Bradley Pitts

Working as a visual artist, architect, and scientist, Bradley Pitts used the Russian parabolic-flight aircraft (the IL76-MDK) as his control room and laboratory. Aboard the IL76-MDK, Pitts experienced a series of 25-second periods of weightlessness and double-gravity that structure his study, Singular Oscillations: Playback (2013), which debuts in Free Enterprise. The eleven-channel video installation presents a work that’s not only technologically critical, but strangely intimate and phenomenological in its approach.

Once aboard the aircraft, Pitts entered the variable-gravity space with his eyes closed, ears blocked, and naked in an attempt to displace his own sense of orientation and create a minimal presence. Eleven video cameras recorded this flight from multiple angles, circumscribing the one perspective left undocumented: that of Pitts himself and his meditative experience. The resulting, fractured visual sequences disorient viewers, challenging them to grasp all details at once or experience their own singular perspective.

Singular Oscillations: Playback is not a documentary, nor a performance piece, nor a second-hand experience of a past mission, but a way for the viewer to participate in the process of visual recalibration that the brain and body do naturally. The project highlights the inability of objective measurement to fully capture or record an event, even a seemingly simple action. In creating observable and not so observable internal and external trajectories, Pitts reveals a series of shifting cultural inquiries, however, the truest document, i.e. human experience, still evades accurate capture.

The project is especially timely given the advent of tourism in space. The artist is interested in the shift from the scientific paradigm of space exploration to one that involves a reinvention of both technical and cultural inquiry. While most engineers and scientists use the observable and measurable to define their approach, Pitts has chosen instead to upend the rational and the logical, investing in the unknown.

Bradley Pitts is a New York based artist and aerospace engineer, trained at MIT, NASA and the Rijksakademie van beldende kunsten (NL). He is currently at work on a custom modification of the IL76-MDK that will involve placing monitors in the cockpit of the plane to create a live video feed of the cabin during weightless maneuvers. As part of this he is developing a portable flight simulator of the IL76-MDK. Pitts has worked with the Royal Academy of Arts and Sciences (NL), the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center (RU), the Pic du Midi Observatory (FR), and the European Space Agency (ESA), and has shown at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie (FR), the Netherlands Institute for Media Art (NL) and Kunsthalle Bern (CH). He shows with Annet Gelink Gallery (NL), lecturing internationally at Yale, the Van Gogh Museum and the Royal College of Art, among others.  Singular Oscillations first began in 2008 and has been produced in collaboration with Projekt Atol Flight Operations, founded by Marko Peljhan, as well as the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center (GCTC) and the pilots of the IL76-MDK. Singular Oscillations is made possible with support from Rob Defares, the Fonds BKVB, Fokker Technologies, the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten (NL), and UCR ARTSblock.

Artist website: http://www.bradleypitts.net
Interview with the artist: http://rhizome.org/editorial/2012/jun/4/artist-profile-bradley-pitts/

Credits:
Installation Producer: Eugene Tsai
Studio Executive Producer: Cheryl Kaplan
Sound Engineer: Jason Grisell
Editor: Jesse Allen
Cameramen: Erwan van Buuren, Ben Geraerts, Saso Podgorsek
Photographers: Eddo Hartmann, Nejc Trost
Electrical Engineer: Kees Reedijk


• Still images and drawing from Singular Oscillations. Pitts is floating and falling freely within the cabin of the Russian parabolic-flight aircraft with his eyes closed and ears blocked. The project explores the empty volume of the plane in and of itself. Photos and drawing courtesy of the artist.