Kate Joyce

Curvature (an ode to the window seat and Isamu Noguchi's Sky Above 1988) 
September – December 2012
Pigment prints on acetate, gold leaf, matte drafting film, wood


Curvature (an ode to the window seat and Isamu Noguchi's Sky Above 1988) is a medium-scale hanging installation containing a collection of 16 images made during commercial flights. The images are printed on clear acetate and backed by a piece of translucent drafting film containing a life size silhouette of an airplane window in gold leaf.

I have incorporated the birds-eye view in previous bodies of work such as The Quench Tank (2005) and Aporia (2000-2006) but it wasn't until 2007 that I actively began photographing from the sky. During that time I worked for an architectural photography studio. We frequently flew across country on assignment. I clocked many hours looking out airplane windows at the landscape below while thinking about floor plans, the man-made ordering of space and the usage of light to describe materials and volume. I continue to photograph from both commercial and privately chartered flights. The window seat has become as much an anticipated destination as the city to which I'm bound. It is a cherished location and I seek to arrive there often.

The world’s first commercial jet airplane took flight in 1949. It continued to crash, killing passengers aboard until the mid-1950s when engineers realized the structural integrity of the airplane's body was severely compromised under high altitude pressure. Cracks would form in the corners of the airplane's square windows causing the plane to crumble. By creating small rounded windows the energy caused by high-altitude pressure is distributed along a continuation of curved edges instead of getting caught in sharp corners.

The master sculptor Isamu Noguchi (1904-1988) is well known for his influence on mid-century modern design.  Although I am interested in the sculpture he created later in life relating to portals, energy voids and the sky.  The year before Noguchi died he created a small bronze sculpture called Sky Above (edition of 8). It's a flat square with very rounded edges, similar to an airplane window, oriented vertically on an x- and y-axis. The top half of the rounded square is highly polished and angled slightly back reflecting whatever is above the viewer’s head. The bottom half is perpendicular to the ground and not polished. The sculpture is a meditation on the relationship between the earth and the sky.    

Curvature pays homage to the critical design of airplane windows and the insightful sculpture of 20th century artist Isamu Noguchi.

To see more of Kate Joyce's work, please visit her website

(photos courtesy of Kate Joyce)