Flying Boat | Progress Post #1

Playing with ‘Variations on Mobility’, the four Creative Commissions teams in 2019-2020 have developed their projects along different trajectories traced by the unfolding movements of People, Objects, Texts and Ideas across times and spaces. As small groups composed of academics who have embraced art in their research practices, or artists working in collaboration with scholars across various disciplinary backgrounds, the Commissions engage different Theories and Methods of mobility, working with ethnographic, archival, historical, anthropological, geographical and creative methodologies. The following text and original images represent a short progress post realised by the team to help us follow the path of their creative work.

Flying Boat | Progress Post #1

In spring 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic has severely impacted air travel around the globe. In April 2020, passenger numbers were 9% of the same month in 2019. Nation states have identified the mobility of people as a means of contagion, some have responded with travel bans and the grounding of airlines. The Flying Boat Geohumanities Creative Commission has pivoted from investigating the possible impacts on climate change on air travel to explore instead how the pandemic will impact on the future of air travel.

Two overlooked aspects of air travel are emerging from the pandemic; the clear socio-economic inequalities of this mode of transport; and its latent materiality. Flying is a privileged mode of movement: from the global perspective, only 20% of humanity have ever set foot in an aircraft; and in wealthier societies it is a luxury activity. Fair travel is framed as a release from gravity and a freedom to roam the globe, yet as its material entanglements with the Covid contagion have brought it to earth. The infrastructure of aviation is deeply invested in material practices; airports are amongst the largest built environment installations, yet now grid-locked by nose to tail, parked aircraft. Oil is trading in April at negative prices; the onstream infrastructures of fuel production are too cumbersome to slow or stop.

This short video, entitled Chek Lap Kok, 9pm, 1 December 2019, documents a walk to Hong Kong Airport from the Expo centre on the airport island, by means of slow travel, under makeshift conditions, and without carbon expenditure. It’s a harbinger of lean and informal travel arrangements which may be a feature of time to come. This is a provisional, work in progress for the Flying Boat project.

Stephen Connolly
Layla Curtis

April 2020


Flying Boat | Presentation

Playing with ‘Variations on Mobility’, the four Creative Commissions teams in 2019-2020 have developed their projects along different trajectories traced by the unfolding movements of People, Objects, Texts and Ideas across times and spaces. As small groups composed of academics who have embraced art in their research practices, or artists working in collaboration with scholars across various disciplinary backgrounds, the Commissions engage different Theories and Methods of mobility, working with ethnographic, archival, historical, anthropological, geographical and creative methodologies. The following text and original images represent a short abstract realised by the team to help us follow the path of their creative work.

Flying Boat

The Empire Flying Boat was a short-lived air service connecting Great Britain with its colonies in operation from 1937 to 1940 and for a short period post war. It offered fast (for the time) passenger travel and mail services following sea routes to Africa, the Far East, and Australia. The “Flying Boat” represented a desired mobility for 48 weekly passengers that was ahead of its time, yet unrecognisable to recent contemporary mobility. And yet the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020 has changed global mobility and aviation in ways yet to unfold.

“Flying Boat” is a GeoHumanities project concerned with the spatial and mobile imaginary enacted by this service projected into this uncertain time for aviation. How did the ‘Flying Boat’ frame its contribution to the mobility of people and goods as a government supported, commercial enterprise? Working with an artist, this framing will be speculatively projected into the future. The material and operational practices of the ” Flying Boat” will be explored in a world of carbon scarcity, climate change, global pandemics and aviation downsizing. This study will be limited to one route; London to Hong Kong, in 2019 the third busiest (seat/km) and still operational despite the 95% reduction in global air traffic by April 2020. Apart from the climate considerations, political and epidemiological rationales may will require a drastic reduction in mobilities; the rationed and slow mobility of the “Empire Flying Boat” is a possible norm in times to come.

Working with an artist will enable the strands of this enterprise – past, present future. Ideas of imaginary projection; speculation; the forging of relationships between spatial practices and their social assumption; this is the territory of the “Flying Boat” project. Projecting the visual representation of this route of spatial dissolution into the future brings a degree of comparative reality to the social consequences of unchecked mobility and climate change.

Steve Connolly, April 2020

 

Team:
Stephen Connolly
Lecturer in Film
University for the Creative Arts
e: stephen.connolly@uca.ac.uk

Layla Curtis
Artist
www.laylacurtis.com
e: info@laylacurtis.com

Flying Boat over Heathrow 2019
UK-World-Airways-2060

The Former State Project | Presentation

Playing with ‘Variations on Mobility’, the four Creative Commissions teams in 2019-2020 have developed their projects along different trajectories traced by the unfolding movements of People, Objects, Texts and Ideas across times and spaces. As small groups composed of academics who have embraced art in their research practices, or artists working in collaboration with scholars across various disciplinary backgrounds, the Commissions engage different Theories and Methods of mobility, working with ethnographic, archival, historical, anthropological, geographical and creative methodologies. The following text and original images represent a short abstract realised by the team to help us follow the path of their creative work.

The Former State Project

What remains of a former state? To answer this question, a geographer, filmmaker and poet follow the route of a six-week ethnographic journey taken in 1937 by British author Rebecca West (1892–1983) through Yugoslavia. Following West’s thousand-page travel-book Black Lamb and Grey Falcon (1941) our aim is to document what remains of Yugoslavia, creating the first film about West and a travel-guide to a country that no longer exists. This project arrives at a time when Yugoslavia remains within living memory and it captures small details and intimate memories of the former state before they are lost. Yugoslavia is remembered differently across the territorial space of the former state and this project provides a comparative study of the seven new states that stand where Yugoslavia once stood. Employing a multi-media, multi-disciplinary approach in the region, it performs a novel yet critical engagement with the geo-humanities and the new mobilities paradigm.

Team:
Jack Wake-Walker
Simon Barraclough
James Riding, Newcastle University


Pearls From China | Presentation

Playing with ‘Variations on Mobility’, the four Creative Commissions teams in 2019-2020 have developed their projects along different trajectories traced by the unfolding movements of People, Objects, Texts and Ideas across times and spaces. As small groups composed of academics who have embraced art in their research practices, or artists working in collaboration with scholars across various disciplinary backgrounds, the Commissions engage different Theories and Methods of mobility, working with ethnographic, archival, historical, anthropological, geographical and creative methodologies. The following text and original images represent a short abstract realised by the team to help us follow the path of their creative work.

Pearls From China

Pearls from China explores routes and types of goods that have characterized the first migratory flow from China to Europe.

Pearls from China is a collaborative project between Ciaj Rocchi, Matteo Demonte and Daniele Brigadoi-Cologna. It is focused on the movement of Objects – fake pearls – but it is also strongly related to the movement of People: in particular, from the rural districts in the hinterland of Wenzhou to many countries in Northern, Central and Southern Europe.

The aim of this collaboration is to further understand how, in the Twenties of the last century, the trade of these fake pearls helped to set the course for the most important migration flow from continental China to Europe. The collaboration will document the beginning of this phenomenon with an animated short documentary.

Although extant archival sources and the relevant scientific literature in the field of migration studies have shed some light on the origins of the Zhejiang migration to Europe, many details remain unclear, like: the intermediaries in Shanghai, the importers in France, the routes that spanned the Eurasian continent and connected China to several European capitals and seaports.

Team:
Daniele Brigadoi Cologna, Insubria University
Matteo Demonte
Ciaj Rocchi


Of steel and (un)stillness | Presentation

Playing with ‘Variations on Mobility’, the four Creative Commissions teams in 2019-2020 have developed their projects along different trajectories traced by the unfolding movements of People, Objects, Texts and Ideas across times and spaces. As small groups composed of academics who have embraced art in their research practices, or artists working in collaboration with scholars across various disciplinary backgrounds, the Commissions engage different Theories and Methods of mobility, working with ethnographic, archival, historical, anthropological, geographical and creative methodologies. The following text and original images represent a short abstract realised by the team to help us follow the path of their creative work.

Of Steel and (un)stillness

Of steel and (un)stillness explores routiers’ social, cultural and material worlds through ethnographic and artistic practices. Routiers are men of African origin that recurrently drive old vehicles from Southern Europe to West Africa carrying with them spare parts, clothing, money remittances, bicycles, appliances, cosmetics, rice, personal luggage, etc. that are delivered, traded and/or bartered along the way. The uses and meanings of carried items lay beyond the mere functional and utilitarian approaches, or monetary value. All the exchanges and (dis)encounters generated by them are culturally located and play an essential role in the production of social relations and of social recognition while in mobility.

Of steel and (un)stillness consists of a kinetic installation that creates a peculiar soundscape, and an audiovisual installation. These pieces metaphorically invoke the transient and cyclical repetition of a polysemic web of floating spaces, places, people, practices, and objects. The resulting assemblages will be affective, speculative and layered with (re)significations.

Of steel and (un)stillness results from the collaboration between two anthropologists and filmmakers (Pedro Figueiredo Neto, ICS-ULisboa, and Ricardo Falcão, CEI-IUL) and an artist (Paulo Morais), and is embedded in a wider research and documentary film endeavor currently in post-production (http://yoon-film.com)

Team:
Pedro Figueiredo Neto, ICS-ULisboa
Ricardo Falcão, CEI-IUL
Paulo Morais


 


Variations on Mobility Creative Commissions 2019

with Royal Holloway Centre for the GeoHumanities

The DiSSGeA Department of the University of Padova and the Royal Holloway Centre for the GeoHumanities are pleased to announce the funding of 4 Creative Commissions on the theme of ‘Variations on mobility’.

Virtual, physical, potential and corporeal fluxes; networks, routes, circulation and stasis of human and non-human entities: Mobilities have become a frame through which we sense spatial practices and relations at multiple scales and levels (local, urban, national, transnational, global; intimate, intersubjective, interobjective, social, collective).

This joint edition of Creative Commissions calls for creative collaborations that explore the relationship between mobilities and the humanities experimenting with the potential of art and creative methodologies in the study, imagination and expression of mobility issues. In particular, applicants were invited to consider the arts and humanities as a frame through which to explore the historical implications of mobility, as well as the constitution of mobile phenomena in both space and time (from antiquity to contemporary history, from present times to possible futures).

We selected four exciting creative collaborations to support:

1) Of Steel and (un)stillness (Pedro Figueiredo Neto, Ricardo Miguel Falcão and Paulo Morais) exploring the relationship between mobilities, humanities and visual and sound art, through an exploration of the experiences of the routiers that drive old cars from Portugal to Senegal.

2) Flying Boat(Stephen Connolly and Layla Curtis) Flying Boat is a GeoHumanities project concerned with a legacy of the spatial and mobile imaginary enacted by the Empire Flying Boat, a live-air service connecting Great Britain with its colonies from 1937-1940, and some time post-war.

3) Pearls from China (Daniele Brigadoi Cologna and Ciaj Rocchi & Matteo Demonte) is an animated short documentary project exploring the mobility of goods and migration flows from China to Europe in the 1920s.

4) The Former State Project: A Journey through Yugoslavia(James Riding, Jack Wake-Walker and Simon Barraclough) a performative retracing of the landscapes of Rebecca West’s (1941) Black Lamb and Grey Falcon: A Journey through Yugoslavia.

(selection committee: Tania Rossetto and Giada Peterle form Dissgea – University of Padova; Veronica Della Dora, Harriet Hawkins and Sasha Engelmann from the Royal Holloway University of London Centre for the GeoHumanities).

The Creative Commissions will run from 1/10/2019 to 1/7/2020.