99 inkjet prints mounted to aluminum connected by red graphic tape applied to wall, 28 feet x 10 feet, 2000
Airplane Family Tree is a wall chart tracing the lineage of 11 generations of aircraft. The relationships were determined based purely on the physical characteristics of the planes. A viewer can trace various traits as they are passed down from parent to child, often becoming more pronounced with each subsequent generation. At top, two conventional domestic airline jets spawn three conventional children. One branch of the family develops into sleek, daredevil military planes. Another cluster become experimentalists, such as flying wings and unmanned aircraft. There are the tacky cousins, "logojets" covered with ads for casinos, television shows, and fast-food restaurants. Cargo planes intermarry with blimps and finally devolve into big inflatable advertising signs. Exploiting the anthropomorphic qualities already quite latent in airplanes, the piece prompts many viewers to identify planes that resemble their friends, their parents, or themselves.
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