I dread flying. I become so focused on the destination that the journey feels like a chore. There are absolute hassles, of course: rushing all morning to wait all afternoon, walking barefoot and beltless through security checkpoints, anxiously checking – and rechecking – IDs, tickets, flight times, gates. Tired and cramped, I rarely look out the airplane window with the same sense of wonder that I felt as a child.
But I’ve been inspired to adjust my perspective through my recent work with Adriel Heisey’s From Above: Images of a Storied Land, a stunning exhibit of 60 aerial photographs of archaeological sites across the Southwest. Heisey’s images remind me of the rare perspective flying affords us. From his incredible vantage point in his custom-made plane, he shows us land stretching out and across in every direction – it’s possible to see a house, village, field, or city as a place situated within a greater and more expansive spatial context. We see highways alongside Hohokam pithouses and ancient fields across parking lots – inevitably, these photographs encourage us to contemplate our relationship with the past and the traces that we, too, will leave behind.
Here in the present, we at Archaeology Southwest are very pleased to announce that selections from the From Above exhibit are now on display at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor and Deer Valley airports. To accompany this exhibit, we have also launched a mobile site (our first!) that will help visitors find out more about the places in Heisey’s photographs. If you have a mobile device, check it out and let us know what you think (http://arsw.org). You can also view the full catalogue for From Above online here. I enjoyed compiling the catalogue, and I hope you enjoy viewing it.
Perhaps you, too, will be inspired to really see the view from the airplane window. And, as the land rolls by in dramatic sweeps below, take a moment to imagine what life was like long ago.