The '03 Flyer


On December 17th 1903 in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, history notes that Orville and Wilbur Wright made the first successful sustained powered human flight. They did this with an aircraft of their own design powered by a custom 4-cylinder 12-horsepower engine. The first flight lasted only 12 seconds for a duration of 120 feet. They would make three other flights that day in an aircraft that would become known as the '03 flyer.

In 2003 with his umbrella as his aircraft and my personal computer technology as his engine, Gene Kelly achieves his destiny and transcends the bounds of gravity, duplicating the 4 flights the Wright Brothers made 100 years earlier.

The visual content of this piece consists of still images extracted from the 1952 MGM musical Singin' In the Rain. Moments were chosen when Gene Kelly momentarily took flight and both feet left the ground. Still images were manipulated, zoomed, cropped and recomposited using video editing software to create motion. Four segments were created, each matching the duration of the four flights the Wright Brothers made on December 17th 1903: 12 seconds, 11 seconds, 15 seconds and 59 seconds.

On the 100th anniversary of the Wright brothers achievement, this installation serves as a celebration of the grace of human flight and the first victory over gravity.