Turbulence.org Commission: Flight Lines by Ellie Irons and Dan Phiffer:
Flight Lines is a computer vision project that monitors the sky not just for customary birds and planes, but rapidly multiplying drones and increasingly frequent extreme weather events. Emerging from an interest in the ecology of the Anthropocene, Flight Lines is an effort to document the skies as they are today, with the knowledge that they are rapidly evolving and have variable characteristics in different locations at different times.
Irons and Phiffer have created a network of cameras across New York City. Each camera location has its own particular ’sky signature’ that is revealed through algorithmic processing, which would otherwise remain invisible. As you watch, your computer renders the videos into a series of silhouetted frames that trace the arcs of objects that move through them; birds, trash, flying machines. The paths generated by this process are its “flight lines.”
Watch the sky, or leave your browser window open while you attend to other tasks. Either way, you will accumulate hours of processed footage that will provide Irons and Phiffer with material for a series of paintings and videos that respond to this aerial ecology.
Ellie Irons is an interdisciplinary artist and educator based in Brooklyn, NY. She works in a variety of media, from walks to WIFI to gardening, to reveal how human and nonhuman lives intertwine with other earth systems. Recently she has been an artist in residence at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory and the Institute for Electronic Arts at Alfred University.
Recent exhibition venues include Wave Hill, the Queens Botanical Garden, Pioneer Works and the Center for Strategic Art and Agriculture in New York City, Flora Arts and Nature in Bogotá, Colombia, and garden projects at Sure We Can, a redemption center in Bushwick, and 1067 PacificPeople, an art center in Crown Heights. Her recent writing is published in Feral Research, Landscape Architecture Futures, and the Brooklyn Rail.
Ellie teaches part time at the City College of New York and Brown University. She studied Environmental Science and Art at Scripps College in Los Angeles and received her MFA from Hunter College, CUNY.
Dan Phiffer is a new media hacker from California, interested in exploring the cultural dimension of inexpensive communications networks such as voice telephony and the Internet. Dan is currently a fellow at Columbia’s Tow Center of Digital Journalism, and has had projects exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, MoMA PS1, and SFMOMA.
Ellie and Dan have collaborated on a variety of projects over the last ten years, including work with the collaborative group Future Archaeology and individual pieces ranging from public sculptural installations to web sites. They share an interest in the intertwining of technology, ecology, and public access to information.
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