Outside Tuscon, Arizona in the Sonora Desert is AMARC, the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center. Here the U.S. Air Force mothballs planes until they either need them again or it’s time to salvage them for parts. Whenever the U.S. sells surplus planes to foreign governments part of the sales pitch is that there will always have a ready supply of spare parts. Some are turned into pilotless drones and used for missile target practice.
There are about 4,000 planes in storage, most now from the Vietnam era. I only wish I’d been able to go in the 60’s when there were still planes from World War II there. You can also see the photographs I shot of AMARC in 1999.
I’ve been collecting the stories people have sent. Here are a few:
“Every pilot I have ever talked to wants to visit but never does. It’s kind of like an elephant graveyard, mysterious, exciting, a place where all kids dreams go. I think that’s why not many of the pilots I’ve talked to have ever really tried to visit. I saw a documentary on the aircraft graveyard. They showed a part where they cut up the B-52’s, all my pilot buddies were silent, I think if each of them were alone, they would have been crying.”
“It shows the incredible creativity as well as the incredible destruction man is capable of.”
When you’re finished looking at these photos you can find out about tours of the boneyard given by the Pima Air Museum at the official AMARC homepage.
My final trip to Woody Guthrie’s “Wardy Forty,” just one week ahead of the wrecking ball.
In the Sonoran desert outside Tucson is the remnants of a Titan II missile silo. Someone scrapped off the dirt and got down to the shell, but couldn’t get in.
Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital was abandoned in the 1970s with the deinstitutionalization of patients. It is where Bob Dylan first met Woody Guthrie, and the topic of my book, “Woody Guthrie’s Wardy Forty: Greystone Park Hospital Revisited.”
I’ve been documenting the ship since 1999, with about 40 photographs on this website. Many of the then/now composites were featured in the recent PBS documentary, SS United States, Lady in Waiting. I’m hoping to add more soon.
“Medievalists have been comparing the smart phone to the Medieval book of hours for years,” curator Sarah Celentano, a medievalist and former staffer at New York’s City Reliquary told Artnet News. “They are about the same size, people use them in public, and they are luxury items.”
Phil Buehler has run with that comparison, surreptitiously snapping photographs of New Yorkers engrossed in their phones and turning the images into stained glass-style images displayed on a smart TV mounted in a wooden frame shaped like an arched church window. Right now, only the video files are for sale, for $1,500 each, but the right offer could potentially buy you the whole installation.
The meditative display, beneath a vaulted “ceiling” of blue lights, is paired with dispatches from QAnon printed in Gothic script that Celentano selected for their biblical cadence. “Smart phones give us access to limitless information, not just prayers,” she said, “but we are still prone to radicalization.”
If you’re in New York City this week taking in the art fairs, please strop by my installation at Spring/Break Art Show The theme of this year’s show is Heresy/Hearsay, with a medieval spin.
Book of Ours
An immersive multimedia art installation
highlighting the unsettling correlation between
technology, medieval status symbols & conspiracy theories.
September 10–September 13
SPRING/BREAK ART SHOW
625 Madison Ave (bet 58th & 59th Streets)
Curator Sarah Celentano’s description:
“This project explores the overlaps of the medieval and the modern with a focus on smartphone technology and online-bred conspiracy groups.
In this chapel of the medieval-modern, photos of smartphone users are transformed into sacred imagery through the medieval medium of stained glass. Accompanying these images are selected communications, or “QDrops,” from the online conspiracy group QAnon. The biblical cadence and heroic language of the QDrops recall passages from the Hebrew and Christian Bibles and show how present-day pocket devices have aided in the radicalization of virtual communities who see themselves as modern crusaders.
Upon its debut in 2007, the iPhone intrigued the medievalist community with its parallels to the book of hours. These prayer books, often illuminated with gold leaf and pigments created from crushed gems, were popular among secular elites between the 13th and 15th centuries. They were often small and portable, and thus acted as both devotional object and personal accessory. The book of hours compares closely to the 21st-century smartphone in terms of scale, costliness, and status symbol. Yet, the purpose of each object could not seem more different, one a means of guiding devotion, the other an invitation to limitless inquiry. But the rise of online conspiracy groups suggests that technology is not a guarantor of social progress.”
Some photos from my installation on the Paradise Baptist Church for the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre. You can see visitors pointing out the burned out shell of the original Paradise Baptist Church, which is one of only three churches remaining in the Greenwood Section of Tulsa.