Up in the Air: early flight and ‘air-mindedness’
A half-day multidisciplinary workshop organised jointly by the Communication and Media Research Institute (CAMRI), University of Westminster, and the London Consortium.
Friday 17th June, 2011 at 2.00 – 5.30pm
University of Westminster, 309 Regent Street, London W1B 2UW
Researchers from the fields of art history, architecture, literature, media history, geography, history of science and the study of emotions are invited to explore the cultural impact of flight in this half-day workshop.
In the first half of the twentieth century, flying at speed through the air was a new and profoundly affecting experience. Our relationship with the landscape below changed dramatically. We saw the surface of the world in new ways. But powered flight was an immersive multi-sensory experience which didn’t just change visual culture. It prompted a whole range of new ideas - about the body, about movement, about space, about human consciousness, about the nature of air itself.
Aviation emerged at almost exactly the same time as radio, and by the 1920s a surprising number of the earliest pilots found themselves working in broadcasting. Soon they talked of ‘taking to the air’ in more metaphorical ways. The BBC was an ‘air service’; ‘ether’ was the medium of communication through which all signals and transmissions must pass; the airwaves even seemed to facilitate mind-control at a distance.
The lexicon of airways and airwaves extended outside these two technologies to have a wider cultural impact. Writers, journalists and strategists spoke about the necessity of ‘air-mindedness’. Aerial photography was commercialised, and became both a tool of survey and planning, and a style of branding for industry and tourism. Archaeologists, travellers and historians found new ways into the past in the view from above.
The workshop will consist of a series of presentations by invited speakers, followed by general discussion. The afternoon will close, over coffee, with a consideration of possibilities for future collaboration.
Open to all interested researchers. Registration fee: £10.
Sean Street, Bournemouth University
Davide Deriu, University of Westminster
Peter Adey, Keele University
James Wilkes, London Consortium
David Hendy, University of Westminster
Lily Ford, London Consortium
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