Jump Jet

5th September - 16th November 2003
Peterborough Museum and Art Gallery
5th 6th 7th September Bourges Boulevard Projection


Below is the text which appeared in the brochure produced as interpretation for this exhibition a pdf of the original document is downloadable (see below)

Outside

A military jet hovers like a ghost over the city, a silent sentinel in the night sky, but what is it doing here in Peterborough? Is its mission to protect or to destroy? If it is protecting us, enveloping us in its tiny wingspan, then what do we shelter from? What if its mission is to raze this place, how do we survive?
Are we proud that we are able to create such a technical marvel, a machine, which seems to defy the force of gravity, or are we cowed into submission by its brutal superiority?

Inside

Dehumanised and emasculated by the pilots’ helmet he struggles against the suffocating constriction, what is he saying? Misunderstandings at a cultural level lead to armed conflict, with the onset of war any meaningful communication is ended.

Modern armies claim to require people who can use their own initiative, to think on their feet, yet they still operate within traditional command and control structures. Which military organization is more effective, the battalion or the cell?

History

Peterborough has enjoyed a long relationship with the military, surrounded by air bases and until recently actually having an active base within the heart of the city. RAF Wittering dates from 1916 and is home to historic and heroic squadrons of Spitfires, Hurricanes and during the cold war era, nuclear weapon carrying Canberra’s. RAF Wittering is now ‘the home of the Harrier’ the worlds first vertical take off and landing (VTOL) aircraft, £25 million ground attack weapon that is 42 years old, yet which still sees active duty, as witnessed in the recent war in Iraq.

The aircraft itself is a bundle of contradictions, beautiful and deadly, a potent symbol of national pride and a tool of destruction. The sharply swept back wing and tailplane, and the large air intakes of the Pegasus engine make the Harrier very distinctive. The cockpit glazing is large and pronounced making it appear almost life-like.

Stubbs questions our relationship with the act of killing, removing us from the comfort of our armchairs… Hovering is about controlling opposing forces… this work seeks to construct a dialogue where previously there was little.

Giles Askham

Artists Statement – Mike Stubbs

Encompassing film, video, installation and performance work, my artistic output has focussed on movement, independence, sexuality and power. Often adopting a documentary style, creating social observations in films such as ‘River’, ‘Little England’, ‘Doughnut’ and ‘Homing’.

Combined with my work as an organiser and curator my practice is increasingly hybrid. At this point the relationships between those activities traditionally defined as producer or artist, making objects (be they made of fine particles of light or architectural space), with processes of social intervention and politics interests me most. The notion of network and infrastructure builder is appealing as is the term ‘professional interferer’. Artists can play in that ‘un-comfort zone' and as an ‘arts professional’ I have been afforded access to people, language and systems that have I hope, made real change happen: artistically, socially and economically.

Gaining permission (trust) to film at RAF Wittering is in itself part of the process of influence. Those in the military in turn negotiate a relationship with an artist working from both a celebratory and a critical position. I enjoy that contradiction. To then manifest the work through public projection and gallery installation is significant in bringing the image of the Harrier into the heart of the City, which has a long standing relationship to the aircraft.

I too have a personal link to the plane, having marvelled at vertical lift offs at air-shows throughout my childhood in Bedford, surrounded by airbases during the cold war. When I was younger, I had a fascination with power and speed, this now turns into an ambivalent attitude towards the masculine fetishisation of technology. In this instance the jump jet, an effective killing machine, beautiful in its innovative design, organic and curvaceous in its lines.
Further complexity then lies in attempts to reconcile issues of national security and economic gain in times of war. How do we feel about our own quality of life in a global environment? During the latest conflict in the Gulf I felt powerless in the face of mediated ‘truths’ and a hegemonic government apparently ignoring protest. Living in Scotland I heard the roar of planes from nearby Leuchars air base in the build up to war. This sound continues to ring in my ears.

download

Press Release

peterborough digital arts has commissioned artist Mike Stubbs to create an outdoor projection and gallery installation entitled ‘Jump Jet’. The piece, a life sized projection of a Harrier Jump Jet will be projected onto the wall of Woolworths, adjacent to Bourges Boulevard in central Peterborough over the weekend of the 5th 6th and 7th of September 2003 and will also form part of a gallery installation at Peterborough Museum and Art Gallery running until 16th November.

Stubbs has worked closely with RAF Wittering in creating his work and chose the Jump Jet as his subject matter because of the close association the plane has with the city of Peterborough. RAF Wittering is ‘the home of the jump jet’ and provides training to RAF pilots wishing to join the elite.

Hovering is about controlling opposing forces. The aircraft itself is a bundle of contradictions, beautiful and deadly, a potent symbol of national pride and a lethal tool of destruction. The sharply swept back wing and tailplane, and the large air intakes of the Pegasus engine make the £25 million ground attack weapon very distinctive. The cockpit glazing is large and pronounced, making it appear almost life-like.

Stubbs’ work seeks to question our relationship with the act of killing, removing us from the comfort of our armchairs. Misunderstandings at a cultural level lead to armed conflict and with the onset of war any meaningful communication is ended. This work seeks to construct a dialogue where previously there was little.

curation

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