Photographer William Laven creates delicately printed black and white photographs which examine the unassembled details of model airplane kits of aircraft flown in the current Iraqi war. Forty aircraft types have been flown in Operation Iraqi Freedom. This includes 30 types of airplanes
- fighters, troop transporters, aerial tankers, and reconnaissance planes - eight types of helicopters and two kinds of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), one armed with missiles, the other with cameras. Of the forty aircraft flown, model kits are made of twenty-one. The prints are scaled in proportion to the actual aircraft: each image is 1/50 the size of the actual aircraft. The AV-8 Harrier (pictured above), for example, is small enough that two could squeeze into a typical Brooklyn brownstone lot, while two B-52 Stratofortress bombers would overcrowd a football field. The AV-8 weighs 14,000 pounds: the B-52 carries five times that weight in bombs alone. The print size of the AV-8 will measure 39×28 inches while the B-52 will be printed as a diptych, each panel being 50×60 inches.
These images of children’s toys touch on the American fascination with symbols of power and acknowledge the complex relationship to the destructive power of the actual aircraft. The tones of these prints shine metallic. The glistening surface reveals both their beauty and their danger.