Here's a great example of the adage that playfulness is a mindset more than a method. These images come from artist Nina Katchadourian. She serves on the faculty of New York University and her work has been featured in many prominent galleries across the globe. Being a world-traveler, she has plenty of time on her hands when she's in-flight. Since she's an artist, she uses the time to create images of whimsy and poignancy. Here's a sampling...
I. Lavatory Self-Portraits in the Flemish Style. These photos are part of a larger series entitled "Seat Assignment"--the works of which are created entirely aboard airplane flights. Katchadourian explains:
"Improvising with materials close at hand, Seat Assignment consists of photographs, video, and digital images all made while in flight using only a camera phone. The project began spontaneously on a flight in March 2010 and is ongoing. At present, over 2500 photographs and video, made on more than 70 different flights to date, constitute the raw material of the project.
"While in the lavatory on a domestic flight in March 2010, I spontaneously put a tissue paper toilet cover seat cover over my head and took a picture in the mirror using my cellphone. The image evoked 15th-century Flemish portraiture. I decided to add more images made in this mode and planned to take advantage of a long-haul flight from San Francisco to Auckland, guessing that there were likely to be long periods of time when no one was using the lavatory on the 14-hour flight. I made several forays to the bathroom from my aisle seat, and by the time we landed I had a large group of new photographs entitled Lavatory Self-Portraits in the Flemish Style. I was wearing a thin black scarf that I sometimes hung up on the wall behind me to create the deep black ground that is typical of these portraits. There is no special illumination in use other than the lavatory's own lights and all the images are shot hand-held with the camera phone. At the Dunedin Public Art gallery, the photos were framed in faux-historical frames and hung on a deep red wall reminiscent of the painting galleries in museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art."
If you've ever had to wait for the lavatory to open up for a long time, it could have been Katchadourian in there! :) But these aren't the only works of art she's created in-flight. Read on...
II. Disasters. She explains:
"These images are a response to the inherent anxiety of hurtling through space in extremely close quarters in a room full of strangers while encapsulated in a metal container."
III. High-Altitude Spirit Photography. This is a study in perception. I find this little series fascinating! She writes:
"Many of the images in the High-Altitude Spirit Photography series are made by capturing glare as it glances off the page. Whereas a good number of the Seat Assignment images are made by physically placing something on top of an existing image, in these images nothing is added in any material sense. It is a matter of working with the way the camera mechanically enhances what the eye overlooks."
IV. Provisional Shelters. She offers no explanation of this subset (she's probably just super bored, eh?!) but these images made me think: "all shelter we build is provisional."
You might think, "This woman is off her rocker!" I, for one, think her work is wonderful in its simplicity and creativity. At any rate, she seems to have found a good way to pass the time when she's on those long, long flights! Here's to playful living.
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