I like to take pictures when I fly. I like trying to match the wrinkles I see from the sky with the horizons I know from below.
The images in the series LAST FLIGHT HOME began on a transatlantic flight in late November, 2019. My seat was in an alcove by an exit door, the flight was smooth, and the attendant didn’t mind me shooting out the door’s window. Much of the time the view was obscured by clouds.
I look for patterns in photographs. Using layers of varying transparency and adding colors with gradient maps lets me create motion and perspective. Repetitive shapes allow me to dramatize the tension between the rectangular frame the camera imposes and the fluidity of natural objects and landforms. But that’s just technique. The goal is to create pictures that are tactile, sensual, and mysterious.
Some landscapes out my plane’s window were wonderfully foreign, like Greenland’s half frozen fjords and the marbled ice of Hudson Bay. Others, like the dry lands of the American West, were familiar and well loved on the ground. From high above they turned mysterious, the cinder cones and volcanic debris along I-40 in Eastern California becoming a phantasmagoria of feminine curves and jagged textures. The solar installation at the Nevada-California border made brilliant cones of light echoed by a white-topped peak nearby. Closer to home, the mountain ranges, San Gabriel and San Bernardino, that stand between Los Angeles and the rest of the country, were fissured by shadow and streaked with early snow.
At first I imagined the images I shot as window framed vignettes or sequences of subtly varied terrain. But once the the stay-at-home orders came down, I began to look at them differently. With air travel now a distant prospect, my old desire to know just where we were and what was beneath me seemed irrelevant. What I saw instead were magical lands, all unobtainable. The colors I remembered became more intense, the breakage on the ground starker. No longer verifiable by experience, the images from above took on the shifting shapes of dreams or hallucinations.
San Pedro, CA