Sunday 19 June 2016

shuttle 3: whirlpool sky sun skin

(1) 'Materials: airplane, jet of smoke'.

In the summer of 1973, the late Dennis Oppenheim created an art work called Whirlpool: eye of the storm: a skywriting piece created in the sky above El Mirage Dry Lake in Southern California. The lines were produced by radio instruction to a pilot releasing a vapour trail of liquid nitrogen. An initial circle of three-quarters of a mile, then the loop repeated with ever-diminishing diameters for four miles as the aircraft lost height above the ground. A schematic, ephemeral tornado drawn on the surface of the sky.

(2) 'Materials: book, skin, solar energy'.

Three years earlier, Oppenheim lay on Jones Beach, New York, for five hours, exposing his skin to the sun's rays, with a copy of the book Tactics: Cavalry Artillery lying open on his bare chest (Reading Position for Second Degree Burn, 1970). Over time his body, made available as a recipient surface like a photographic plate or canvas, gradually changed colour as the skin reddened and burnt around the stencil-like obstruction of the book. A minimalist white square on red. Skin as a surface for inscription by the sun.

Materials. Surfaces. Mark making. Ephemerality.

Energy transactions between bodies and environments.

The giving over of agency to other elemental intensities.

Documentation as trace of absent event. 

For 'hang time', an earlier post about skywriting practices, see here

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