Take Off


With a history stretching back to the days of analog computing, flight simulators play an important if under-sung role in the development of new media. Flight sims employed some of the earliest practical applications of high-end graphics, not to mention the first-person perspective; they symptomatically display the influence of military and aerospace industries on electronic culture as a whole; and Microsoft’s Flight Simulator PC game is one the most popular and longest-running franchises in the commercial sphere. Such potent provenance undergirds the bad-dream un-logic of Joan Leandre’s shuddering HD video In the Name of Kernel! Song of the Iron Bird (The Flight Recording Series), screening as part of the Barcelona-based artist’s first gallery exhibit at Project Gentili in Prato, Italy, which begins with shots set in the lurching cockpit of a free-falling virtual aircraft. In the Name of Kernel! grows out of Leandre’s past project retroyou nostal(G) (2002-2003), which likewise explored ideas of spatial disorientation and the mechanics of navigation through altered flight sims and user-unfriendly webpage design, and introduced his fictional narrative of one Lieutenant John Kernel, a pilot who relates tales of witnessing light-globe UFOs during missions. The gallery show includes other elements from the series: 7 Columns Mega NFO Film (2008) and NFO Box (2008), two prints of ASCII text designs on plexiglass that resemble both black boxes and ancient monuments, and bear serial numbers that will activate an "expensive unknown software application." - Ed Halter

Image: Joan Leandre, In the Name of Kernel!: Song of the Iron Bird (The Flight Recording Series) (video still), (2006 - 2008)