Airports as Artports

Visualisations of
the airport, the journey and of flight

Charlotte Douglas International Airport has carved a reputation for installing dynamic artworks – with a moving sculpture highlighting the wonder of flight recently joining one of the largest digital public art line-ups in the world. Jason Holland reports.

A public art installation that expresses the wonder of flight and is inspired by aircraft holding patterns was recently unveiled at Charlotte Douglas International Airport in the US – the latest in an innovative line of artworks.

‘Loops’ was created by Los Angeles-based kinetic artist Christian Moeller and is now on view in The Plaza at the corner of Concourse D and E at the airport.

As well as capturing the wonder of flight, Loops also signifies “tremendous scale, airways and the sensation of weightless suspension”, according to the airport. Two gracefully curved lines, made from aluminium tubing and colour coated with industrial automotive paint, are animated by a constant and slow rotation. They represent the holding patterns made by planes, which sometimes appear as white condensation trails in the sky above airports.

The artwork is powered by electric motors mechanically integrated into its support structure.

Christian Moeller

Video caption Artist Christian Moeller’s ‘Loops’ expresses the nature and wonder of flight, as this video highlights

“Formally the work strives to be iconic, graceful, voluminous and levitating, while leaving room for multiple interpretations and readings,” Moeller said in his concept for the work.

‘Loops’ (pictured below) is the centrepiece artwork for the airport’s East Terminal expansion, which adds approximately 51,000sq ft to the airport’s D/E Connector, a food court, baggage handling area, new escalators and more.

“Moeller situates his sculptures in time and space,” said ASC [Arts & Science Council] Vice President of Public Art Carla Hanzal [ASC commissioned the piece along with the Public Art Commission and in partnership with the City of Charlotte]. “The choreography of the two interacting objects is elegant and subtle. In the evening, dramatic shadows are projected on the adjacent wall creating an animated line drawing.”

The public art programme at Charlotte Douglas International Airport aims to promote Charlotte and the surrounding region while enhancing the overall passenger experience.

One of the most striking additions to the programme in recent times was Los Angeles-based artist Refik Anadol’s ‘Interconnected’ – one of the largest digital public artworks in the world.

An ‘Interconnected’ story: The artwork displays dynamic abstract visualisations derived from airport operations data

Installed in 2018 as the focal point of the US$200 million expansion of Concourse A, the artwork comprises three high-definition LED media walls, measuring over 2,000sq ft. They display constantly changing dynamic abstract visualisations derived from real-time airport operations data ranging from flight times and shuttle bus circulation to departures and arrivals.

“What you see is multi-million particles; each particle representing every single operation that the airport has been doing the last 90 days,” said Anadol. “[That] will be the inspiration – the freshness of seeing this invisible world of data transforming itself every single day into something else.”

The same thing is never displayed twice – and that’s part of the beauty of the project, according to the artist.

Ráed Al-Rawi’s pair of ‘Journey’ murals are imaginative and intended to spark conversations

Another recent installation is Ráed Al-Rawi’s pair of murals entitled ‘Journey 1’ and ‘Journey 2’ in Concourse B. The murals feature images of flying people, animals and articles and are intended to give “a sense of dream-like freedom as we travel on our journeys”, according to Al-Rawi.

“Travelling is a journey we take in our bodies and our minds,” he said. “It’s my hope these flying scenes going in the direction of the gates will bring conversations, thoughts and humorous relief to travellers. I believe the images provide to the viewer a surreal quality and imagination to the landscape of North Carolina from the mountains in ‘Journey 1’ to the beaches in ‘Journey 2’.”

From the whimsical to the abstract to the innovative, the public art programme at Charlotte Douglas International creates a Sense of Place

Finally, Nico Amortegui’s ‘We are All on the Same Plane’ and ‘Queens of Catawba’ (pictured below) – also installed in Concourse B in 2019 – serve to remind travellers of the history and culture of the Charlotte area.

“As the Queen City grows, we look to cherish those that came way before us while embracing residents rooted here for generations just as much as the city’s many transplants,” said Amortegui.

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The Moodie Davitt eZine

Issue 275 | 23 January 2020

The Moodie Davitt eZine is published 20 times per year by The Moodie Davitt Report (Moodie International Ltd).

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