Sunday, 13 June 2010

Video Screens Announce Departures

Las Vegas airport. Image from my Flickr stream.

On the airport after the arrival of the Boeing 747:

Something was lost. In the jumbo era passengers became oblivious to the outside world, moving through concourses that were double-glazed and super-insulated to muffle the roar of jet engines. Conventional points of entry and transition disappeared. Glass doors opened automatically at the command of seeing-eye photo-electric cells. Moving sidewalks, escalators, and baggage conveyors whispered hydraulically. Departure lounges became shadowless holding tanks, saturated with Muzak and fluorescent lighting. Video screens, first introduced in the 1970s, glowed dimly with arrival and departure times. The experience was ersatz and vacuum-sealed from beginning to end.

From Naked Airport by Alastair Gordon, Chicago, 2004 (partially quoted in my article on the 747 in this month's Icon).

On the tanatorio, a Spanish morgue:

One might expect this to be a solemn place. But, with vigils going on for up to twenty-six dead, all neatly arranged in adjoining cubicles, the tanatorio bustles like a railway terminus. First-timers might think they have stepped into a small airport terminal. Groups of people mill about. A TV monitor tells you which corpse is in which cubicle. A cash dispenser sits in the middle of the foyer. Another machine produces prepaid phone cards. There is, inevitably, a large bar-cum-restaurant doing brisk trade. I even have friends who, because of its extended opening hours, have used it for the last drink on an evening out. A new tanatorio, I notice, has just been opened in Madrid. It advertises on the radio with the slogan "the most modern tanatorio in Europe".

From Ghosts of Spain by Giles Tremlett, Faber, 2006

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