Vol.4, Number 2, July 2008
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If war is conducted largely on the field of logistics, how is the necessary level of involvement in the administrative staff maintained? How do those left behind on the ground remind themselves of how and why they fight? Abandoned office spaces on disbanded squadron facilities may give some clues. This new series of photographs was made at RAF Coltishall in May 2007. Contemporary artists and archaeologists are collaborating in an interdisciplinary investigation of the site during its closure.
KEYWORDS: military airfields, contemporary art, wall art, entropy, architecture, war, memory
GAIR DUNLOP MAKES ARTWORKS WHICH EXPLORE ENTROPIC MODERNISM: THE NEW TOWN, THE MILITARY AIRFIELD, THE FILM ARCHIVE, AND THE MEMORY OF PROGRESS. FINAL RESULTS VARY FROM WEBSITES TO HANDMADE BOOKS, LAWN DRAWINGS TO “EXPANDED CINEMA” EVENTS. HE IS INTERESTED IN COMBINING ELEMENTS OF SITE-SPECIFIC PRACTICE WITH DIGITAL TECHNOLOGIES. SINCE MARCH 2006 HE HAS BEEN COURSE LEADER OF THE MASTERS PROGRAMME IN MEDIA ARTS AND IMAGING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF DUNDEE, SCOTLAND.
Cinema screen, flight crew briefing room.
This was an institution which, so we were informed, was of great, even vital importance to the defences of our country; but it was so well concealed that many visitors to our village have gone away from the neighborhood without ever having suspected its existence, although the sight and sound of perhaps fifty planes in the air at one time must have convinced them that some such concentration of force could not be far distant.
-- Warner, The Aerodrome
> THE WAR OFFICE:
EVERYDAY ENVIRONMENTS AND WAR LOGISTICS
Hidden in the north Norfolk countryside, important vestiges of modern UK militarism are slowly fading. RAF Coltishall is hard to find by road, but represents an entropic conjunction of the pastoral and the apocalyptic. It functioned from 1939 onward – a strategic Second World War and then Cold War interceptor station. The airbase is now closed; its assets dispersed. A few security guards patrol the deserted flight aprons, hangars, and perimeters. The Home Office have now confirmed plans for an overspill prison on part of the site.
Coltishall’s last aircraft – the Anglo-French Jaguar – was trans-ferred to Coningsby in Lincolnshire and then scrapped. Cold War-style interceptions of Russian reconnaissance bombers are now undertaken by its successors from more modern airfields. These highly stylized choreographies of intrusion and alertness once again suit both Western and Russian militaries (Blair 2007).