Flight Lines

December 2015

Supported by Jerome Foundation

Flight Lines is a computer vision project that monitors the sky not just for customary birds and planes, but rapidly multiplying drones and increasingly frequent extreme weather events. Emerging from an interest in the ecology of the Anthropocene, Flight Lines is an effort to document the skies as they are today, with the knowledge that they are rapidly evolving and have variable characteristics in different locations at different times.

Irons and Phiffer have created a network of cameras across New York City. Each camera location has its own particular ‘sky signature’ that is revealed through algorithmic processing, which would otherwise remain invisible. As you watch, your computer renders the videos into a series of silhouetted frames that trace the arcs of objects that move through them; birds, trash, flying machines. The paths generated by this process are its “flight lines.”

Watch the sky, or leave your browser window open while you attend to other tasks. Either way, you will accumulate hours of processed footage that will provide Irons and Phiffer with material for a series of paintings and videos that respond to this aerial ecology.


Java-enabled web browser. The code can be forked at Github.