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.