Flying Boat // stephen connolly / layla curtis

Geohumanities Creative Commission 2019-2020

Progress Post: February 2021


The Flying Boat project as research has been delayed by the pandemic. As a visualisation of mobility, the research is hampered by an inability to travel. Across the globe, populations are sheltering indoors. Repeated lockdowns across Europe, a huge market, has decimated international aviation.

Restrictions on travelling to Hong Kong are similar to many Asian and Australasian states - entry is limited to residents who must quarantine on arrival for 21 days at their own expense. As new variant of the virus was discovered in the UK in December 2020; direct travel to Hong Kong from the UK was specifically not permitted.

Hong Kong has a history of witnessing viral outbreaks. Since the flu pandemic of 1968, virologists have identified the city as a sentinel territory for detecting new viral pathogens. This sensitivity implicates poultry and populations of migratory birds, mobile reservoirs of pathogens, as vectors of viral outbreaks. New realms of material mobility and spatiality, and their intersections with known mobilities, have been revealed by the pandemic. London (United Kingdom) 08.30 24.01.21 summarises aspects of this new landscape of non-mobility, referencing distant Hong Kong, in early 2021 inaccessible to this researcher. London ... is a composite work drawn from research conducted online and pre-pandemic material.

In this context, Hong Kong as an urban environment can be freshly understood as a layered, liminal space at the intersection of multiple social, financial, material and biological assemblages, mobilities and entanglements. The Flying Boat research project has undergone multiple revisions of subject and theme; responsive to global events. This is a fertile and generative research area that will reward further investigation, visual studies work and filmmaking.


Notes
[1] For data on travellers to the UK, see table 12 CAA data site
[2] Hong Kong Arrival and Entry Regulations
[3] For a fascinating ethnographic account see Keck, F. (2020) Avian Reservoirs: Virus Hunters and Birdwatchers in Chinese Sentinel Posts.
[4] Hong Kong restricts poultry imports
[5] Historical accounts have located Hong Kong as a centre for business flows - Bickers, R. (2020) China Bound: John Swire & Sons and Its World, 1816 - 1980. More ‘placial’ accounts are emerging such as Du, J. (2020) The Shenzhen Experiment: The Story of China’s Instant City.