Project Native Informant

Ruairiadh O'Connell

Ruairiadh O'Connell

PNI, London

The calm in the hull of the Comet IV jet is nothing short of a miracle. Eight miles above the earth, moving through the air at a speed of eight miles a minute. A read, a smoke, a doze, a quiet conversation, a coffee or a whiskey-and-soda. In this peaceful atmosphere all is conducive to relaxation.

A graveyard spiral generally lasts 178 seconds. It occurs when a pilot loses control of bank attitude and one wing begins to drop. As the bank steepens, the nose falls through the horizon and the aircraft begins to descend. The pilot senses a drop and pulls back in an attempt to arrest it, but this only accelerates the spiral and the descent rate becomes incredibly steep.

When pilots are flying in bad visibility, the instruments providing accurate information about the plane’s speed, altitude and direction are life-saving. But in a graveyard spiral, inexperienced pilots may decide to fly by the seam of their seat. They navigate according to what they think is happening based on what they see or feel, rather than on the information provided by the instruments.

Sometimes you can make a quick decision against your own instincts; at other times the decision is taken away from you. Spiraling through the air, the pilot can’t figure out what to entrust faith in. The machinery sees the ground coming. The pilot doesn’t believe it.

The patterns of 1950s aviation furnishings, such as those on the seats of the Comet IV, explore abstraction as a way of manipulating the senses, through the unconscious reception of gesture and mark making. They were designed to distract – as tricks to the mind and the eye. What appears to be chance is in fact technique. Instinctively you know they must be perfectly regular. But the patterns never seem to repeat exactly, as if the eye won’t believe what the machine has made. They underline the way sight itself is an unreliable alibi. The patterns seduce the eye by repelling it.

False perception. Wrong rightness! When the brain is given impressions. When feelings are not to be trusted. Love, friendship, insecurities and general paranoia.

Units 1 and 3
48 Three Colts Lane
London E2 6GQ
United Kingdom

Project Native Informant will be closed for Summer Break from 27 July - 20 August 2024. 

Juliana Huxtable's solo exhibition will open 02 October 2024.

Wednesday - Saturday
12:00 - 18:00