Sunday, September 13, 2009

Heathrow (May 12, 2007)

Here I was waiting for my flight to Milan--actually I think I was waiting for the announcement of the gate I needed to go to in order to get my flight. Heathrow has an odd (and somewhat unnerving) system of disseminating this information. In general, departure gates are not listed until relatively close to the time the plane leaves, and since I am paranoid about plane travel anyway, this tends to prevent me from ever really relaxing.

In this picture I think I am also showing (to myself, if not to others) the "pattern" of airports, their apparent replicability. I think this is something Manuel Castells discusses in The Rise of the Network Society. Airports are international spaces, and they all tend to look the same; much like shopping malls and university campuses, in fact. I don't think it is simply a similarity of form based on function. But the result is that on long journeys, when passing through several airports, one sees a lot of the same (with a few pleasant quirks from time to time; yes, I took that train and yes, there are moo'ing sounds).

This photo shows something of that repetition, for me--the tiredness that permeates the travellers' postures, the darkness that hides their faces, hinting at their anonymity in this "space of (human) flows" (even in this most-surveilled, most securitised space); and the light that shows only the view of planes from the window--which can't really be "placed" either, which could not be singled out as "England" if viewed in a line-up with any five airports from anywhere.
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