art daily, british airways, co-pilot, cockpit, curious, e-cyclorama, edinburgh, edinburgh art festival, exploded, flight attendant, flight deck, morphed, north pole, northern lights, painting, painting on the inside of a huge cylinder, pilot, red eye, sanford wurmfield, scotland, september 11, shimmer, subtle color, surrounded, transitions, ultram, unfolded

musings on the northern lights and an earthbound painting.

long before the events of september 11, jumbo jet flight decks were the destination of innocent children curious about the world of airplanes and pilots. if you were an adult asking for entry to the inner sanctum, the request might have been met with a bit of skepticism and concern. after all, if you were too old to wear the plastic “pilot wings”, you were most likely too old to give a toss about the pilot and environs. 

well, i am curious about EVERYTHING. and, as someone with an uncanny talent to make instant bffs, i gained entry to the flight deck on a BA jaunt from san francisco to london heathrow. in exchange for a couple of ultram to a flight attendant who had thrown out her back, i was granted carte blanche to saunter up front. normally, i wouldn’t have bothered, because if you’ve seen one flight deck on a red eye, you’ve basically seen them all.

or had i seen them all? after the pilot announced he was watching the northern lights, i immediately used the ultram in exchange for VIP status. a call was made to the flight deck and before i could whistle dixie, i was spending quality time with the pilot. we watched the mothership of all light shows as we flew over the north pole. mere words cannot  express the consummate beauty and wonder that shimmered, folded, morphed and exploded before my eyes through those tiny windows. the pilot invited me to stay as long as i liked (as if i was going to leave!). after about 45 minutes of non-stop internal ooohing and ahhhing, i thanked the crew for what can only be described as a mind blowing and life changing experience. i did, for a split second, think i may have seen heaven.

should you be in the fortunate population that have seen the northern lights, you can testify that they are not of this world. i’ve seen them high above the earth, an experience that very few have or will be able to have. i love to remember those 45 incredibly important moments of my life. the object below reminded me (but in NO way comes close to what i saw up there) of my ride on that BA flight. the e-cyclorama invites you to surround yourself in color, which is never a bad idea.

“The E-Cyclorama is a painting, but a painting that you’re immersed in, that you view from within. Painted on the inside of a huge cylinder, using one hundred and nine separate colours on more than seven hundred square feet of canvas, the E-cyclorama surrounds its audience, filling the field of vision with a rainbow of shifting colour. The colour moves through the spectrum, but the transitions are rendered in so subtle a way, that you can never be sure where one colour ends and the next begins. The effect is dynamic, an experience almost more like music than painting, more like surround-sound painting.”

E-Cyclorama, Edinburgh Art Festival 2008, by Sanford Wurmfield, via: Art Daily



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