Flying Boat // stephen connolly / layla curtis

Geohumanities Creative Commission 2019-2020


Flying Boat is a Geohumanities Creative Commission by Stephen Connolly and Layla Curtis, initiated in autumn 2019. Its initial inspiration was the Empire Flying Boat, a short-lived air service from the UK to the Far East and Australia, in operation from 1937 to 1940 and for a short period post war. The Flying Boat provided 48 passenger seats a week on a service taking 8 days from London to Hong Kong.

As a transport object, a Flying Boat is a material oxymoron, a vehicle simultaneously lighter than air yet bonded to the surface of the water. From a contemporary perspective, the airbridge between London and Hong Kong offered passengers 25 thousand seats weekly in 2019, a journey of 11-12 hours nonstop. The ease and apparent freedom of those with financial resources to be mobile has significant costs nevertheless. The airbridge is an assemblage of engineering, energy and social organisation supported by unsustainable consumption of the material resources of the planet.

How might the Flying Boat offer a window on the assumptions of the scale, speed and volume of this mobility? Can this figure of movement unlock generative and fresh representations of the mobilities and spatial mutability of our worlds? The work presented here is an initial investigation of a number of avenues for further research.

Thanks to
Dr Sasha Englemann / Royal Holloway, University of London
Giada Peterle / Università degli Studi di Padova
Geohumanities Creative Commissions 2019-20