'Air Corridor' 

Published as 'Thunder, Chatter and Lines of Flight' , in Critical Bastards, issue 15. 2018. 

Cécile Babiole's installation Air Corridor, as part of the Glitch Festival at Rua Red, detects real airliner flight paths overhead the gallery, transposes the accompanying noises, and amplifies their thunderous passings unapologetically within the space. 

As effective and commanding as this action is, the works accessibility lies in its humble means of communicating these flight detections visually, and, as this process of sonic commandeering is not a constant feature in the space (contingent as it is on actual air traffic), it is this visual element that is most likely encountered first. 

En route to the main gallery space, a matt-black monitor screen sits mounted on the wall, encased in a boxy white frame, with a black antenna peaking from its top. On screen, non-alphabetic keyboard characters converse together, roughly depicting (with slight difficulty) an airliner from a frontal view. A similar constellation underneath spells out the work's title, whilst underneath both of these groupings of characters are regimented categories by which the actual flight paths can be described in real time – flight no., altitude, speed, latitude, longitude. 

The monitors formal presentation, in all its protrusiveness, doesn't suggest actual air traffic utility. It does however conjure up a sort of 1980s sci-fi vision of technological progress, far more at home on the set of Escape from New York than at JFK international. The same can be said of the actual graphics on screen. These characters reluctantly depict image, title, and data, and yet more pressingly, they allude to a charmingly naive vision of a cyberspace, but one not yet utopian or dystopian in resemblance. An embryonic vision, almost teething on the screen. 

All of a sudden, along comes the thunderous advent of flight EZY54KB, and over this invasive sound, a rattling that almost seems to make teething pixels chatter. 

EZY54KB crescendos, and the score reads: Altitude 7272, Speed (km/h) 792, Latitude 53.157 and Longitude -6.150. 

And then, the sound dissipates and all that is left is the screen. The conditions are just as they were, but after this sonic trauma, it seems harder to consider the airliner as a coherent image at all. Nothing is moving, or has moved, yet the characters seem to want to break apart from what little cohesion they shared. With an imaginative push, they split, forming little splinter groups of line and dots, and this airliner becomes a mass of unassigned coordinates. Post thunder and chatter, we're left with skeletal forms, floating like little emoticons, although what it is they might be expressing remains enigmatically distant. Origin unknown. Destination unknown. 

image : 

Installation shot. Property of the artist. 

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