Maria Park and Branden Hookway
“Just as flight instruments are means of reconciling the subjective experience of flight to a reality that might contradict it, the exhibition seeks to bring a heightened awareness of controlled environments and to mediate the tension between structured information and intuitive decisions.”
This work is part of an exhibition titled Training Setting, a collaboration between Maria Park and Branden Hookway that investigates social and control protocols using a diagrammatic language of flight cockpits and table settings. To train within a technologized environment is to mediate formal and informal instruction—where a formal understanding of information and procedure coexists with an informal understanding gained through embodied action. In this sense, training is inherently an orientation toward both the actual and the virtual, as performance draws upon tacit knowledge according to formalized protocols.
Central to this exhibition is an installation of 26 shaped paintings, under the same title, depicting fragments of a cockpit and a twenty-first century airfield as seen through the windscreen of a grounded B-29. The iconic bomber of WW2 and the start of the Cold War, the B-29 heralded a new era of globalization in which territory would increasingly be defined by targeting. The windscreen is rendered as a diagram that cuts through both an interior and exterior view, circumscribing a visual manifold encompassing flight instrumentation, ground equipment and crew, airfield and landscape. The curvature of the horizon across the peripheral field frames an oculus with an inactive Norden bombsight at its center. The work describes an environment alive with interconnected protocols, from attitude displays to taxi patterns, but also neutralized: a view of the twenty-first century from the perspective of a decommissioned twentieth century plane.
The paintings are reverse-painted on transparent sheets of Plexiglas and mounted on plywood panels. Their reflective surfaces refer to the difficulty of separating out the place of this historical artifact in the lineage of contemporary techniques of picturing the world through satellite imagery and global communication. Encased between wood and glass, the images occupy a space between painting and diagram, where they are interrupted continuously across the visual field. Rather, it occupies a space between painting and diagram, where images are interrupted continuously across the visual field. As in a mockup of a control room with a multiple-image display, it mimics the screen without the inferred veracity of televisuality.
While the vernacular of diagrams found in manuals and instructional guides delimit a set of conditions and actions, their reconfiguration here addresses how the systems of control that underlie formal diagrams are propagated through everyday life. Just as flight instruments are means of reconciling the subjective experience of flight to a reality that might contradict it, the exhibition seeks to bring a heightened awareness of controlled environments and to mediate the tension between structured information and intuitive decisions.
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Collaborative artwork and statement by Maria Park and Branden Hookway. It was first exhibited at the College of Art, Architecture, and Planning at Cornell University in Fall 2017, and traveled to Nancy Toomey Fine Art, San Francisco, CA, in Spring 2018.
Suggested citation: Park, Maria and Hookway, Branden (2018). “Training Setting.” In Interface Critique Journal Vol.1. Eds. Florian Hadler, Alice Soiné, Daniel Irrgang. DOI: 10.11588/ic.2018.0.44736
This article is released under a Creative Commons license (CC BY 4.0).
Maria Park is an Associate Professor and Director of AAP Exhibitions and Events in the College of Art, Architecture, and Planning at Cornell University. Her work explores human presence and agency within a media-reliant society and is represented by Margaret Thatcher Projects in New York City and Nancy Toomey Fine Art in San Francisco, CA.
Branden Hookway teaches in the Architecture and the Information Science departments at Cornell University. He holds a Ph.D. in the history and theory of architecture from Princeton University.
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