Flight Lines grows out of my interest in the ecology of the Anthropocene. As our skies become home to not just birds and planes but to satellites and drones, it’s worth considering this shifting landscape. This project, which has grown into a collaboration with my husband Dan Phiffer, is an effort to document the skies as they are today, with the knowledge that they are rapidly evolving and have different characteristics in disparate locations.
As a child I loved to lie on my back and watch the sky. Flight Lines reinstates this activity, but through video and computer vision. By aiming a camera at the sky, excluding all static objects from the frame, and letting the video roll, we record the flight path of everything that passes over the frame, from machines and animals to puffs of plant matter and the occasional plastic bag. Abstracting these videos into frame-by-frame animations using Processing creates a precise record of exactly what the camera registered during this period of time: a series of flight lines.
As of Fall 2015, the project is entering a new phase through support from Turbulence.org and Jamaica Flux. Dan and I have also spent time developing the project at the IEA at Alfred University and the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory (RMBL). Images of the ink drawings I worked on at the IEA are at the bottom of this page, and video excerpts from our experiments at RMBL are below.