For many of us the act of traveling by air — whilst not a daily activity — is now a regular part of our lives. Whether it be for pleasure or business, this very unnatural experience of being transported from country-to-country, or even continent-to-continent at speeds of many hundreds of miles and hour, has become an accepted part of our social life.
‘When we climb to 30,000 feet, our perspective becomes that of a deity, with the rules of time and space altered as we rush over the earth,’ says Greek born, New York based photographer Phillip Kalantzis-Cope, ‘In flight we are able to view the most remote corners of the natural world and the vast spread of the world we have constructed. It gives us the unique perspective to look at the interaction of the natural and constructed in a truly holistic way.’
Like many of us who travel by air, Kalantzis-Cope has made numerous photographs during his many personal journeys over the last few years. In On The Plane, we experience the ‘unique perspective’ that Kalantzis-Cope talks about as we look down on a landscape frequently framed through the distinctly shaped windows of various aircraft.
In one photograph we see a city bisected by a river, as the aircraft banks to the left after take-off; in another image we glimpse through the raised wing flaps the urban sprawl below as the aircraft prepares for its final approach; whilst a grid of illuminated streets and avenues emerges from the darkness in a golden glow in another Kalantzis-Cope’s image.
We confront death a little every time the aircraft doors close — intensifying the whole experience of being inflight, says Kalantzis-Cope. Yet at the same time, much of what we travellers do reflects the banality of our everyday life; a man sleeps his body wrapped in a scarlet shroud; whilst others read, or watch a movie. Here sealed within the pressurised cabin of our jetliner, we enter a temporary and shared world. A world remote from the everyday, we place our lives and trust in those who remain unseen, the pilots, engineers, and air traffic controllers, who form what Kalantzis-Cope calls, ‘a web of people, underwritten by collective knowledge, keeping us alive, together.’