Thursday, July 14, 2005

Well the emergency state is apparently off, because the flight path is back in its place, above our house. The average pause of quiet between airplanes is about 3 seconds. But then you have the police helicopters noise, so it wouldn’t get too boring.

There will come a day when air travel will be banned, or at least made hideously expensive. This form of transport is the most polluting; airplanes are the best construction workers of the global greenhouse, because they release their emissions high up in the sky, where it stays. But governments do their best to encourage air travel: airplanes fuel is not taxed, and new airports are being built all the time.

One website I was looking at yesterday contemplated the schizophrenic behaviour of humans: they ban smoking on flights, yet they allow airplanes to litter the atmosphere with the equivalent of billions of cigarettes. Of course, no chance of anything changing soon: not only the oil companies, the airlines and the aviation industry make a fortune from the crazy increase in flying during the last two decades; global commerce and tourism are totally dependant on flights being so cheap. Just imagine our lives without these three days breaks in Budapest, or imported figs from Turkey. How could we carry on living?

Smell the fumes of Waste Culture, the odours of Fossil-Fuel Age: so heavy and sweet, like a crate of rotting mangos in a London skip. I’m sure even Exxon chiefs know it will not last forever. Change is unthinkable but inevitable. The question is, will it come too late. Come to think of it, Stone Age doesn’t seem so bad in retrospect: they didn’t have mp3 players, but at least they didn’t make the planet uninhabitable.

On the last day of the Mapping Festival, we watched short films at 56a. This familiar space, usually stacked top to bottom with books, zines, fliers and latest cry of punk high-street fashion, was turned into a strange cave or spaceship; the walls were all covered with cardboard. One of the films was Pete’s dreamlike airplane film. The images were grained, rough and dirty, they looked like out of a comics strip, or ancient WWI footage. It showed a light aircraft descending into flames, in slow motion. The image flickered and faltered. This short sequence of crash/descent was showed again and again, to the howling soundtrack of red and black nightmares. It was hypnotic. Pete’s obsessed with airplanes, he always films them.

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