FOOTNOTE #03: GOLD & CLOUDS
According to the French poststructuralist philosopher Jean Baudrillard, everyday life unfolds in a system of signs, a ”car” for example implies ”driving pleasure”, ”progress”, or ”independence”. Baudrillard plays with the re-articulation of theories of structural linguistics and semiotics – terms such as signifier and signified, coined by the Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure. Following this approach, one can examine how the aircraft as an object or signifier has undertaken various shifts in meaning since its invention.
Once it stood for technical progress and the latest evolutionary step in military technology – and technology per se meant military superiority in a post-industrial era marked by enthusiastic nationalism – then, since about the 70s (a date chosen knowingly arbitrarily), the airplane has been increasingly considered as an object which can be instrumentalised for terroristic activities with relative ease. Cheap flight deals offered by discount air lines, a development that began approximately in the 90ies, have made distances appear smaller and smaller (already before the plane has been co-symbol for globalisation), and in addition stripped ”traveling by air” of its hitherto semi-luxurious connotation (the once fashionable term ”Jet Set” now appears rather outdated). Finally, the aircraft has become a symbol for the rapidly progressing depletion of fossil fuels – natural resources that were created over geological time frames, now to be extracted in a crescendo of global consumption: the object plane has turned into one of the motors of man-made climate change, and the frequent traveler is confronted with the term ”carbon footprint”.
For the subject or individual an aircraft offers the possibility of rapidly overcoming distances, in return for subjecting oneself to being “locked up” for a certain period – subjugating any sense of individual autonomy to total confidence in technology and the crew operating the aircraft (this can be seen as one of the reasons why the suicide of the German-Wing pilot in 2015 became such a collective traumatic experience).
The video piece “Footnote #03: Gold & Clouds” aims to be a meditative reflection on the object “aircraft”. It has been realised during a stay at the Saari Residence in Mynämäki, Southwest Finland, and finalised during a residency at the Brno House of the Arts.
Kindly supported by:
BKA, the Arts and Culture Division of the Federal Chancellery of Austria
Brno Artists in Residence
David Muth is an artist, musician and programmer. Having grown up in Salzburg, Austria, he relocated to the UK to study at Middlesex University, where he received an MA in Digital Arts. He currently lives and works in London, Turku and Vienna.
His artistic practice combines conceptual and experimental approaches and is informed by his background in architecture. His projects range from installations and responsive environments, through video and photography, to composition and
performance of music.
Muth’s work has been shown on numerous occasions internationally, with venues and events including the Musée d’Art Contemporain in Montreal, the Kiasma Museum of Modern Art in Helsinki, Ars Electronica in Linz, Le Cube in Paris, Laboral in Gijón, the Museo Reina Sofía in Madrid and the Museum of Modern Art Salzburg. Institutions he has taught at include Ravensbourne University of London and the Royal College of Art, and he currently lectures at Goldsmiths University of London.