Close Quarters and Far Pavilions
Allan deSouza's new video and photographic installation, Close Quarters and Far Pavilions, consists of a four-channel video work of multiple sequences shot from inside commercial flights at the time of take-offs and landings. The title, influenced by M.M. Kaye's 1978 novel about conflicting identities and split loyalties set in India and Afghanistan, suggests the aircrafts' cramped spaces and the hand-to-hand combat of “close quarters,” as well as the exotic allure of faraway places. Each flight in the videos is en route to or from San Francisco, enacting a series of perpetual departures and arrivals. For two videos, the source images are digitally split into two mirror images. In some cases the outside plane wing forms a sinister, self-sufficient object resembling stealth aircraft or drones, which we familiarly associate with surveillance, particularly in the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In two additional videos, similar clips are visually abstracted into circular target-like forms that resemble the rotation of jet engines. The seemingly abstract form is rendered understandable through the soundtrack of the familiar engine drone, cabin announcements and passenger conversations. Photographs of the landscape below, also taken in-flight, complement the videos. These “ordinary” views of land- and skyscapes are also rendered into mirror images. They suggest human-made shrines, mythological figures, aliens and other figments of the social imagination.