Sunday, June 17, 2007

Airports and You

Aileen, on the Furtherfield blog, recently wrote a rant on the rather irrational situations that air travelers regularly subject themselves to. She also asks a few related questions:
Once upon a time, air travel was glamorous, exciting, something different from everyday ordinary life. Wasn’t it? I think that’s what I remember from my childhood, that’s what it looks like in old films. So how did air travel come to be a form of mass transportation? And an increasingly unpleasant form of mass transportation at that? In fact, I am beginning to suspect that more sinister forces are somehow at work here. I have started developing my own personal conspiracy theory about it.
Her questions about airports got me thinking about a project from a while back by Martha Rosler entitled "In the Place of the Public." (find images here) Grant Kester has a short write up about it here, in which he says:
Rosler offers another way to map the airport, not as the adventurous travelers of the jet-age, but as alternately bored and frightened consumers. In her photographs the airport appears like a strange undersea world, filled with a leaden atmosphere, mysterious lights and sounds, and endless subterranean caverns.
While there is lots of theory and discussion of mobility, placelessness, non-places and interstitial modalities involving airports, I recently received an email about a bicyclist that was harassed and beaten by police when leaving an airport terminal on his bike. There's something interesting about the extension of airport security into the surrounding transportation landscape here that has to do with speed and the control over one's own mobility. It also reveals that the move into a society of control, where rules are enforced by means of preemptive design and architecture isn't a complete process. Meat cops will still show up and tase you if you do something unexpected... like ride a bike away from an airport.

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