This article, one element in a multifaceted art research project, explores the agency of the aircraft landing gear compartment (wheel bay) in global transfer. It takes as its beginning histories of human and other-than-human actors falling from aircraft wheel bays as aircraft descend into London Heathrow and asks what art research can bring to the problem of their political and ethical framing. Its theoretical touchstones include John Ruskin on dust and the object-oriented philosophies of new materialism. These are brought into conversation with an account of the process of modeling and exhibiting a wheel bay, as well as extracts from a microstratigraphic survey conducted on the original. The article ultimately contends that the wheel bay gives shape to otherwise intangible aeromobilities, knowledge of which is integral to a nuanced understanding of the political geography of airspace at London Heathrow.
Nick Ferguson is an artist, curator, and academic based in London. His research examines the relationship between art, space, and power, with recent and ongoing projects focusing on London Heathrow, its neighborhoods and airspace. He holds a BA from Oxford University, an MA from the University of the Arts and a PhD from Goldsmiths, University of London. He is Associate Dean for Research at Richmond University and Senior Lecturer in Critical and Historical Studies at Kingston School of Art. Email: email@example.com