August 11, 2007

The B-17 Sculpture Proposal


I've just published a rough web site going over my prospect proposal for a large, 1/2 mile long recreation of a WWII "Big Week" bomber formation of 1500 B-17s. The intent is to rebuild this type of formation at about 1/400 scale. The entire flight, which in life could be over a hundred miles long, could be installed in an area roughly 1/2 mile long and from 40 to 100 feet high, supported by a long series of open-air towers built around a form related to a cathedral-style open double vaulted ceiling.

Big, big project, to say the least; it would take some years of planning and work but I can't see anything unfeasible about it. The idea for now is to circulate among the contemporary art and aviation history communities and get er, rigorous criticism.

I would greatly value your suggestions. What are the glaring omissions, the killer technical obstacles, the conceptual or historical errors, the missed opportunities? I've been thinking about this idly for a year and more seriously for the last two months - so far, I've got a fairly enthusiastic response and am optimistic this project can be pursued.

Conceptually, it has aspects as a geometrically formal sculpture, war memorial, Seattle and aviation history, critical political perspective and personal totem. Viewed in person, and executed precisely, I believe it would induce suitably complex emotions when thinking about the reality of the bombing in WWII , perhaps spme sense of the awe the witnesses must have felt. The web site closes with a quote from Slaughterhouse 5:

Billy looked at the clock on the gas stove. He had an hour to kill before the saucer came.
He went into the living room, swinging the bottle
like a dinner bell, turned on the television. He came slightly unstuck in
time, saw the late movie backwards, then forwards again. It was a movie
about American bombers in the Second World War and the gallant men who
flew them. Seen backwards by Billy, the story went like this:
American planes, full of holes and wounded men and corpses took
off backwards from an airfield in
England. Over France a few German
fighter planes flew at them backwards, sucked bullets and shell fragments
from some of the planes and crewmen. They did the same for wrecked
American bombers on the ground, and those planes flew up backwards to join
the formation.
The formation flew backwards over a German city that was in
flames. The bombers opened their bomb bay doors, exerted a miraculous
magnetism which shrunk the fires, gathered them into cylindrical steel
containers, and lifted the containers into the bellies of the planes. The
containers were stored neatly in racks. The Germans below had miraculous
devices of their own, which were long steel tubes. They used them to suck
more fragments from the crewmen and planes. But there were still a few
wounded Americans, though, and some of the bombers were in bad repair.
Over
France, though, German fighters came up again, made everything and
everybody as good as new.
When the bombers got back to their base, the steel cylinders were
taken from the racks and shipped back to the
United States of America,
where factories were operating night and day, dismantling the cylinders,
separating the dangerous contents into minerals. Touchingly, it was mainly
women who did this work. The minerals were then shipped to specialists in
remote areas. It was their business to put them into the ground., to hide
them cleverly, so they would never hurt anybody ever again.
The American fliers turned in their uniforms, became high school
kids. And Hitler turned into a baby, Billy Pilgrim supposed. That wasn't
in the movie. Billy was extrapolating. Everybody turned into a baby, and
all humanity, without exception, conspired biologically to produce two
pefect people named Adam and Eve, he supposed.

3 Comments:

Blogger Corresponding Secretary General said...

Preparing for my trip, I don't have the time or mental energy to give this idea its due. Give me a week, but off the top of my head: I love the idea, consider involving boy scout troops (if they still have those there, studying for their history and aviation merit badges), and there are few typos on the web site. Let me know if you want notes.

August 11, 2007 at 7:16 PM  
Blogger First Sea Lord said...

Please email any notes- I'm aware of many of the errors, but will certainly miss others.

The real trick here is: will Boeing be interested? They really should be.

August 11, 2007 at 8:01 PM  
Blogger Corresponding Secretary General said...

Do some homework on Boeing's Board of Directors: http://www.boeing.com/corp_gov/board_directors.html

I note a retired Marine commandant and a former ambassador to East Germany. Could be promising.

August 11, 2007 at 11:09 PM  

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