Landing Letters from the Airline by
Strange International Encounter by
KIT: Landing Letters from the
Airline by John
Pulp Magazine, Summer issue,
KIT is a fluid international
collaboration constructed in 1990 to work within the auspices
of true 'multimedia'. Fluid in that its members change according
to the dictates of the project being worked on. Like prosthetic
limbs, each member can be attached or detached at any juncture
to recombine KIT's identity - sort of David Cronenberg meets
Mr. Potato Head. Thus architects, industrial and landscape
designers, visual artists and merchant bankers are limbs of
KIT. Given the range of interests represented in the group,
their work reflects disparate contributions. This collision
of ideas, work methods and processes is celebrated by KIT,
something Manchester will witness in the upcoming year.
Following contacts initiated
during their October '96 exhibition, Passport Sized Interface,
which linked 2 photobooth-cum-time machines in the Museum
of Science and Industry in Manchester and Ottawa International
Airport in Canada, we can expect several projects to be executed
in the North West Region in the near future. P.S.I.
began with the idea of exposing some of the faults of new
communications technologies. In execution, however, P.S.I.
turned these shortcomings into celebrations of human input
and dialogue through machines. The heavily pixelated, non-verbal
communication of the live internet (via 'CUSeeMe'), video
link in P.S.I. dumbed the relationship between the
human participants, reducing it to a childlike arena of waving
and face pulling. Within the purpose of the museum as recorder
of the past and that of the airport as projector of future
destination, the booth which was covered in soil and astroturff,
becoming a bunker of inefficiency behind economy's lines.
KIT's current work seeks to
further expose collision and inefficiency. The group is preparing
projects which incorporate the last sentences of airline crew
before the aircraft crash. These are taken from black box
recordings and are then transposed on to open hillsides (a
la Cerne Abbas), with a chalk football pitch marker. When
these huge, white letters of distress are completed, they
are then photographed from the mode of transport from which
they were transmitted before the crash.
Working to expose these
kinds of contradictions whereby certain technical failures
became media spectacles, KIT find themselves looking at the
wreckage and fusing the pieces together to make a new hybrid.
The Ottawa Citizen Newspaper,
October 13, 1996, Canada
Got a ticket to ride? Because
airfare to anywhere comes with an art bonus this month. The
bonus takes the form of an interactive video installation
called Passport Sized Interference, and it awaits
the unsuspecting traveller at gate 22 of the international
airport's departure lounge.
With the support of Gallery
101 and airport staff, an artists' collective known only as
KIT has installed a booth near a quadrangle of departure lounge
chairs. I say booth because P.S.I. looks something
like a Photo-Mat. You can duck behind a short, brown curtain
and sit on a stool facing a video camera lens and a rectangular
video screen. But there the resemblance to an automatic self-portrait
studio ends. The interior and exterior walls of the booth
have been spackled with a gritty black substance. The structure's
roof is made of bright green plastic turf, and its sides are
reinforced with some grotesque looking bulwarks. This great
sod-of-a-bunker houses an Internet video hookup, which connects
it to an identical booth sitting in Manchester's Museum of
Science and Industry, United Kingdom.
In Ottawa, the booth's oblong
screen is split down the middle, showing a self-conscious
you on the left side, and a quizzical Mancunian on the right.
The intercontinental dumb show that ensures is both funny
and pathetic. The interference of the artwork's title manifests
itself in two ways. Your moving image and their's in the U.K.
are shown in slow motion. Once in a while, the action degenerates
into freeze frame, and a person's last move is stuck on screen
for several minutes, without changing. At other moments, the
video is plagued by electronic noise, which turns the image
into a confetti of searing white pixels and black dashes.
Unlike the dime store photomat,
P.S.I. is not just good clean fun. Users who consider
its bunker-like trappings for any length of time will find
that a nervous tremolo creeps into their laughter. What are
we doing in these one-person underground observation posts,
spying on strangers across time zones? The interference-riddled
messages sent to the other side could be setting the stage
for a cyberwar. Our beloved technology cannot make a stranger's
will visible to us. Worse still, a little electronic noise
can make liars of us all, and in our confusion we could easily
rain down computer viruses and untold mischief on each other.
After a close encounter with
P.S.I., you can cock a Bette Davis hat over one eye
and declare that the future is now, voyagerÉ. But are
we ready for it?
If your taste runs to colorful
gesturals on canvas, the airport will provide. You'll find
Cecile Comblen's work in one of the departure lounges. She's
one of several local artists who, with the help of the airport's
manager of community relations Nan Taylor, have mounted show
regularly in this unorthodox venue.