“03:36 18th November 1940. After half an hour of circling by an unidentified aeroplane, a parachute-mine silently descends onto Theydon Plain at the edge of Epping Forest. Yates’ Retreat – a popular teahouse and amusement park – is obliterated.”
“18:38 22nd December 1999. A Korean cargo plane slides out of the sky moments after leaving Stansted Airport, and disintegrates into a screaming fireball at the edge of Hatfield Forest. The plane’s cargo, and the cause of the accident are a mystery.”
In both stories, as aerial technologies and alien cultures become fused with rural life, those immediately affected on the ground witness a spectacular event of unknown creation, in a moment of wonderment, awe, terror and thrill, on a biblical scale.
Yet to acknowledge such incidents as being thrilling is considered taboo. Experiences and memories of thrill are displaced by the horrors of human tragedy. Thoughts of thrill are only reintroduced at a ‘respectful’ later date through sanitised stories of heroism.
But what if the emotion of thrill prevailed, and the act of creation were nurtured beyond the moment of fusion? Airphoria explores one possible alternative.
In Terminal 1, Brendan introduces two large-scale prints, 19401118T0336 and 19991222T1838, which represent particular moments of thrill - part fact, part fantasy – the inspiration for Airphoria. He presents a series of collage proposals for the installation, alongside a pallet of found materials including fauna and flora indigenous to Epping Forest, aircraft parts, and fabrics.
Brendan invites you to browse through his library of books and original documents, and view a montage film created from fragments of archive aviation and fairground footage, including a 1916 movie of a Sunday school outing to the ill-fated amusement park on Theydon Plain…
When the installation is finally realised, Brendan hopes to take visitors on a choreographed journey of emotion and experience: from apprehension, generated by stories told on the tube to Theydon Bois; bewilderment, at the spectacle of the incident facing them on Theydon Plain; exhilaration, from their aerial flight into Epping Forest; to wonderment, at the menagerie of creations that await in Genesis Slade.