Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Artist Aaron Koplin Soars with "Flight Patterns"

It's been awhile since I've been as excited by a creative result as much as I am in watching a very short video clip, Flight Patterns by Aaron Koplin, found on YouTube,

A shorter but much higher quality version can be found at the UCLA Center for Embedded Networking Systems

Koplin takes F.A.A. flight data and uses it to create luminous video maps of human interconnectivity in an ingenious and utterly modern retake on the famous video capture of the FAA radar screen going slowly blank on September 11, 2001 after American air space was shut down in response to the attacks on New York and Washington.

Art at its highest level heals, and Koplin's goes a long way in healing the collective wound of 9-11, so much so, in fact, that the work makes the idea of flying seem almost magical again.

Part of its artistry for me stems from the setting at U.C.L.A. that gave rise to it, a National Science Foundation Science and Technology Center, given partial funding by the federal government, since the Christian conservatives haven't caught on to it yet as Art with a Capital A, and demanded the money be used instead for third-world abstinence education.

Koplin's work is part of a larger project called Celestial Mechanics, which is "a planetarium-based artwork installation that visualizes the statistics, data, and protocols of man made aerial technologies---a graphic display of the paths and functions of the machines hovering, flying, and drifting above our planet. The sky is filled with aircraft that transport people from place to place, perform utilitarian duties, assist in communications, enact military missions, or wander above us as debris. Celestial Mechanics combines science, statistical display, and contemporary art by presenting these mechanical patterns and behaviors as a dynamic visual experience," to which I say, O.K!

A work sheet page here documents different components that go into the assemblage.

Flight Patterns has already generated artistic response, a sure sign of merit.

Artists have been at the forefront in stopping the descent of the earth's peoples into the madness of Armageddon, a list that in my opinion includes even the director Mel Gibson---a man true to his artistic impulse. Aaron Koplin (and I insist on pronouncing that as Copeland) is a rising young star with a bullet, up there with the artist who woke me up, old Harold Pinter.

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