Vicki Kerr

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Vicki Kerr's MPhil/PhD Art research project

Airspace: Zones of Fidelity and Failure

Initially trained as an Air Traffic Controller, I bring the largely hidden infrastructural edifice of airspace to the forefront of artistic and academic enquiry, focusing on our increasing economic and personal dependency on air travel and the unpredictable physical and social processes that threaten to halt or disrupt this mobile life we have come to depend on.  When infrastructural systems break down our dependencies on air travel become explicit, revealing the tension between usually hidden infrastructures, a culture of consumption and the politics surrounding interruption, regulation, repair and safety. 

Two real world events - the closure of European airspace due to the presence of volcanic ash (eruption of Eyjafjallajokull, Iceland in 2010) and a commercial airliner’s (Air New Zealand 901) collision with an Antarctic volcano, killing 257 people in 1979, expose these tensions.   As opportunities to learn while in-the midst of catastrophe, especially when events are unprecedented; we are required to be responsive to unfolding circumstances that are unknowable.  The configuration of things is powerful and requires us to act in-relation, forcing us to make sense of contemporary earth forces as they meet human activities and infrastructures.  Evoking something of the sublime, the ash cloud disruption exposed our vulnerability to a nature that exceeded certain tolerances within the air travel system, while the Air New Zealand crash revealed how a system’s management and internal complexity could trigger catastrophic failure. 

My practice engages with archival material and the dispersal of images, through the mass media, working with multi-media technologies such as video and three dimensional printing processes.  Recent projects include ‘the Antarctic experience’ installation, Heathrow Director and Swanwick video works that form part of a larger body of work concerned with the catastrophic breakdown of empirically grounded monolithic systems and the interplay of various agencies and technologies involved in the production of airspace.

Vicki Kerr's website