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Title: Airspace : zones of fidelity and failure
Author: Kerr, Vicki
ISNI:       0000 0004 5366 8784
Awarding Body: Goldsmiths, University of London
Current Institution: Goldsmiths College (University of London)
Date of Award: 2015
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Given our increasing reliance on air travel to function in all aspects of society, it seems imperative to expand our knowledge of airspace and the social relations that air travel enhances and makes possible. My thesis offers a critical analysis of the technical safety systems that support air travel. It finds fissures in the rationality that underlines our belief in the safety and sustainability of air travel and leaves open the question of whether our confidence in this system can be sustained only by the claim that it is inherently rational. According to anthropologists Geoffrey Bowker and Susan Leigh Star, one of the defining characteristics of technological systems that achieve the cultural status of ‘infrastructure’, is that they ‘become visible upon breakdown’. (Bowker and Star 2000, 335) Two real world events - a commercial airliner’s (Air New Zealand 901) collision with an Antarctic volcano, killing 257 people in 1979 and the closure of European airspace due to the presence of volcanic ash (eruption of Eyjafjallajökull, Iceland in 2010) expose the fragility of the infrastructural systems supporting air travel. As conditions of exceptionality, these events pose a challenge to aspects of our spatial imaginary, allowing us to understand the contradictory interdependence of trust and risk. Working across media, using video, sound, object making and print, my practice is concerned with the ‘breaking down’ of space. My work reflects my increasing interest in the precariousness of empirically grounded monolithic systems that aspire towards comprehensive totality and stability through their own set of formal logics and structural parameters.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available