FROM WORKSHOPS TO FLASH MOBS - HOW LIFE HAPPENS IN AIRPORTS
Airports are transforming our culture and countries. From cultural experience workshops and big-screen digital video art to flash mobs - airports world wide are becoming cityports and cultural hubs, and are shaping up to be the center of our civilization.
“Airports are changing our sense of time, distance, style, and even the way cities are built and business is done.” (Alastair Gordon, “Naked Airport: A Cultural History of the World’s Most Revolutionary Structure ”)
No longer a cultural void, a non-place deprived of ethnic and national symbols - a territory in limbo. Airports today are very different from what they were decades past - place where the moment one passes through immigration into the departure lounge, one is immediately removed from the impediments of society.
We are all too familiar with ‘third culture’ that has long been characteristic of departure lounges. Pidgin language and iconography, code of conduct, security procedures, relativity of time and space are what we immediately adapt to when entering an airport. The impersonality of it all is what creates the sense of freedom and cosmopolitanism we experience during air travel procedures.
“Icons signifying toilets, banks, duty-free shops, departure gates, customs and so on are almost uniform in airports all over the world. Their language is largely non-verbal and easy to learn; it is accessible in a manner reminiscent of traffic signs.” In Limbo, Notes on the Culture of Airports
The number one enemy of all air travelers - boredom - used to be alleviated by shopping for luxury goods and dining on rare foods in otherwise sterile environment. Nowadays there is much more to it. As mentioned above - airports are more often than not turned into cityports, miniature cities even. Apart from hospitality services, offer activities such as golfing, taking a class or participating in workshops, preserving heritage; and locations such as swim-up cocktail bars, bedrooms by hour, cinemas and lounges dedicated to video art.
A decade or two ago, social anthropologists came to a conclusion that airports can not be considered microcosms as its main users - air passengers - pass through. In the 21st century though, things are changing and airports are becoming destinations as well as serving their purpose as transit territory. To attract more attention airport boards are coming up with some pretty creative happenings, like flash mobs.
A flash mob is a group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual and sometimes seemingly pointless act for a brief time, then disperse, often for the purposes of entertainment, satire, or artistic expression.
The first flash mob was created in Manhattan by senior editor of Harper’s Magazine in 2003 and took place in Macy’s department store.
The latest flash mob that proved to be a big hit on YouTube, was organized in Dubai Airport (DXB) and has attracted over 700 thousand views to date. Malaysia Airlines in Kuala Lumpur International Airport successfully orchestrated a flash mob showcasing the talents 100 singers and dancers in Arrivals Terminal 3 in January 2012, the theme of the event was “Missing you” and it lasted 10 minutes.
Will a flash mob happen in Sydney International Airport, remains to be seen, but we certainly hope so.