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Dreams of Flying

Dreams of Flying

Research centre
Art and Design Research Centre


A research project into what is considered, or at least marketed as, one of the ‘ultimate thrilling experiences of the C21st’: taking a ride in a fourth-generation military jet fighter

On a morning in April 2008 our Agent was collected from her hotel room on the Volga in the centre of Nizhny Novgorod, once the closed city of Gorky. They drove to the Sokol aircraft plant where the MiG fighter was invented. In WWII they produced one plane an hour.  By 2006 the MiG -29 was deployed in twenty-five countries including Peru, Eritrea and Bangladesh. After our Agent’s briefing and a blood pressure check, which registered a little higher than normal, the paper work was signed.  The Agent was suited up and told she would now be referred to as a Pilot.

She laughed out loud…

So begins Dreams of Flying.

The idea of flying in a jet fighter evokes that ancient, almost primal desire to fly reformulated in the twenty-first century through military technology and entertainment.  Significantly the video takes place in the spring of 2008, as the financial crisis was nearing its peak, but what predominates is a drive for the experiential.

The video combines the footage and soundtrack from a tourist flight in a MiG in Russia with a third person narrative taken from historical, scientific, military, and fictionalised texts on flight. The video mixes facts and fictional narratives to explore what circulates around the symbol of the fighter plane, to consider whether its usual symbolic trajectory can be taken off course.   Accumulatively the montage works to objectify the experience of the flight, alluding to both the individual and collective narratives that coalesce around taking a ride in a military jet fighter.

Dreams of Flying has been exhibited at RAF Museum Cosford, UK,  and Zeppelin Museum, Germany 2011, and as part of the Tatton Park Biennial Flights of Fancy 2012.

Visit the Dreams of Flying project website.

Researchers involved

Rebecca Mallett - Senior Lecturer in Disability Studies

Michelle Atherton - Senior Lecturer in Fine Art

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