The Black Box (Downing of Air Force One) Version 2

In 2003 I built a second version of The Black Box (Downing of Air Force One) for the Rotunda Gallery in downtown Brooklyn, NY for a show called Critical Consumption. For this version I wanted to build a large wooded landscape and settled on a 6’x6′ floor piece. I had been making smaller landscape models that fit into pedestals for early Future Living Projects pieces but wanted to make something larger and this was the perfect opportunity. Since I had already made my model of Air Force One for Version 1 I only needed to concentrate on making the landscape. I started by buying many packets of railroading trees and railroading grass used for model railroading. I decided that for transportation and storage purposes that I would split the landscape into two 36″x72″ plywood pieces and use trees to cover the seem. I started with these two 3/4″ thick pieces of rough plywood and glued newspaper onto it to create a paper mâché landscape. I crumpled up pieces and placed newspaper on top to create small hills. I used watered down Elmer’s glue to help seal it all together and create a rigid surface. I did this for both sides and made sure that the contours of the surface matched at the adjoining seam. I painted both sides with dark green paint. I mixed 2 different kinds of railroading grass in a glass grated cheese container. I squeezed glue out on the surface of the green landscape in small sections and spread it out using my fingers. Before it could dry I shook the grass from the glass container onto the glue covered surface, making sure to cover the glue completely. I did this for a few sections and after they dried I would tip the plywood onto some newspaper to collect all of the grass that didn’t get stuck to the surface so I could reuse it. I did this until all of the surface was covered on both pieces. The last part was attaching the green railroading trees that I bought. Before I glued them onto the surface I made sure to rip them down into smaller sizes. I covered most of the surface with these trees but made sure to leave space in the middle for the airplane wreckage.

Next I made my 2″x4″ understructure and placed the landscape on top. I measured the height of the piece as it would sit on the floor and added one inch to get the height of my sides. I needed the landscape to be sunk below the sides so that the edges of the plywood would be hidden. This design is an extension from my previous pieces that I built into pedestals where I had used this same technique. In order to emphasize the aerial view of the wreck, I pushed the landscape to the floor and in effect, created a very shallow pedestal for it. I would use this same technique for Epicenter City and Pure City/ Sigma 6.

I painted these sides white and took everything to the gallery to build. Everything went smoothly during building and I needed to wood fill the seams of the white sides and sand several times to eliminate any imperfections. I also covered up the seam in the middle with extra trees and also used these around the edges. Before the show I made both stickers and pins to give out at the opening. The stickers were of Air Force One in black and white and I had 2 types of pins made, nine that said A.A.P.R. Co-conspirator and one that said Chief of Protocol on it, which I wore. At a third showing of this piece I also made a 11″x17″ take away poster of a drawing that I made on vellum of a plane going down in flames with what look like cross hairs on it. At another exhibition I made an all white version of the Air Force One model which I showed on top of a light box pedestal with a vitrine on top (It was later found to have been destroyed due to an irretrievable missing piece.)

Below are 2 images from the show, the sticker, the pins, the poster and the model.

The Black Box (Downing of Air Force One) Version 2 by Brian Higbee and Associated Artists for Propaganda ResearchThe Black Box (Downing of Air Force One) Version 2 (Detail) by Brian Higbee and Associated Artists for Propaganda ResearchThe Black Box (Downing of Air Force One) Sticker by Brian Higbee and Associated Artists for Propaganda Research

A.A.P.R. Pins by Brian Higbee and Associated Artists for Propaganda ResearchThe Black Box (Downing of Air Force One) Poster by Brian Higbee and Associated Artists for Propaganda ResearchAir Force One Small Scale Model by Brian Higbee and Associated Artists for Propaganda Research

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Filed under Associated Artists for Propaganda Research, Sculpture, Small Scale Model

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