We — and possibly you, too — are a big fan of large coffee-table art books by the likes of publishers Taschen, Phaidon and Rizzoli, to name but a few. Among our favorite stack of these large tomes is a book by a lesser-known German publisher. It’s a book of photographs by the artists Peter Fischli and David Weiss titled “800 Views of Airports.” And that’s exactly what you get, literally 800 photos taken in airports by the artists over several decades of international air travel. There’s no accompanying text, no explanations, no captions. Just photographs of airports, airplanes, tarmac vehicles, control towers and views looking out of windows from air-terminal boarding lounges around the globe. The book is a mesmerizing document of the airport’s cultural landscape. For those who have traveled widely and often by air, the images in this book may feel in their own way comforting.
Photographer Mike Kelley photographed airplanes taking off from airports around the world and then composited the images to provide a visualization of all the various airlines and takeoffs. Kelley calls these “Airportraits.” You can view more of these images on his website. The image of LAX above was used for the front cover photo of Nicholas Felton’s recent data-visualization book “PhotoViz.”
In the latest installment of our ongoing photo project series What’s Outside the Window?, here’s an image of the view from our Delta airlines window seat of the control tower at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in New York. An El Al airlines’ Boeing 747 jumbo jet is parked at Terminal 4 in the foreground.
There’s a Mattel toy store in the Delta Airlines terminal at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). WTF? Who knew? Well, we do, now. So in case we need a set of Hot Wheels at the last minute, we’re all sorted out.
The shopping-mall-ification of airports isn’t new. In places like London Heathrow, Amsterdam Schipol, Milan Malpensa, Dubai and Barcelona (especially Barcelona!), the airport terminals are practically luxury shopping malls on their own. But aside from the usual duty free, magazines-and-snacks and tourist merch stores and retail food chains, there aren’t as many major luxury or mid-range retail brands with stand-alone stores in most major American airports.
But that seems to be changing rapidly, though through a process that we imagine has been years in the making. The Mattel store is an example. At Atlanta’s Hartsfield, there’s a Kiehl’s. At New York’s JFK’s Jet Blue terminal there’s a Muji store. and the Virgin America terminal at JFK really looks more like a shopping mall than an airport.