“…the [ground] wore the appearance of an installment of night which had taken up its place before it’s astronomical hour had come, darkness had to a great extent arrived hereon, while day stood distinct in the sky. Looking upwards, [one] would have been inclined to continue work; looking down he would have decided to finish [..] and go home.”
— From, The Return of the Native, Thomas Hardy
I flew into New York JFK airport from London on the 10th of September 2001, arriving around 10 pm. An electrical storm lumbered and raged as cabs poured passengers into Manhattan leaving a wash of recent storm water flooding the sidewalks all the way downtown. It was warm with flickers of cool air and the unpredictable atmosphere was brought closer by jet lag and the bewilderment of stepping off a seven hour flight into this.
After 9/11, I stayed on in the city for ten days not photographing much at all, it didn’t feel like my job and there was too much of that going on already. I returned to London late September then went back again to New York in early November; Though the city smelt the same as it did in late September, all fused electrics and burning dust, everything was different.
I had made some ‘Plane’ photographs in London before 9/11. The work was beginning to refer to my Dad and him taking us to endless air shows as children, something I actually enjoyed. He had done his national service in the RAF and then worked for most of his professional life as a Production Engineer for Rolls Royce redirecting his passion for aircraft into engine projects for civil airliners.
I started to make more of these ‘Plane’ pictures, I re-read a passage in Thomas Hardy’s ‘The Return of the Native’ which describes an English heath at the onset of Autumn, on which all of the action of the book takes place. It is literally setting the scene for what is about to happen and describes the place on which a tragedy will occur. I had always liked these words and they had governed much of the ‘Planes’ work I had done. At the beginning I liked the idea of photographing near to the end of the day, and as the seasons changed, of my feet being in darkness and what I was photographing still being lit by the sun.