The Forms of Flight


Aside from a flying machine, the airplane is shopping center, hotel, cinema, restaurant, kiosk and office; and this intimate relationship with the fabric of daily life is what makes the use of the airline as a weapon so scary. From the shopping on board advertisement to the suitcase commercials, all the symbolic images show the passenger planes as an extension of the spaces for work and leisure. In contrast, the representation of the military aircraft multiplies its threat by accumulation and edges: the cloud of B-52s on the Dr. Strangelove posters, or the carpet of these crafts taken apart in the bone yards of the Davis Air Force base, trace a landscape of orderly aggression that shocks with its repetition; and the shapes of the planes – the profiles of helicopters, the edged folds of F117 fighters, the warped surface of B2 bombers – strike the eye with their violent beauty. The obtuse architecture of the Pentagon was also attacked on September 11, and the airports of Saarinen in the two victim cities remind us that civil aviation promotes friendlier buildings than the military one: photographers compare the SOM chapel for the Air Force with troops in formation and fighter planes, and perhaps these are not bad visual metaphors...[+]