Contemporary Approaches to Aerial Art:
An Exploration with Kites by David Wagner
I am an artist and art consultant working primarily in large scale architectural art glass.
Glass is a heavy, brittle, expensive, and unforgiving medium. What attracts me to glass is the interaction with light. The artwork is illuminated with transmitted as well as reflected light. Also, images can appear to float in the air, when presented on large sheets of clear glass, which is not unusual in my projects.
Kites share these attributes. My early experiments silkscreening images on glass in art school often became kites, as I framed up the paper proofs and flew them before the sun. Paper was fragile, and I could not manage to get the contemporary inks to stick to the more appropriate synthetic fabrics, such as ripstop nylon. I also realized that kites in this country are perceived as a toy or a sport, and I soon lost interest.
I spent 10 years in South East Asia, through the 90’s, and there was exposed to a different approach. Throughout the region, kites were accepted as a viable medium of artistic expression, often in a highly refined or ritualized context. Some of the work I saw and recorded was fantastically detailed and rendered.
Over this decade, I traveled extensively and shot thousands of photographs in documenting the work I found in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, China, and Japan. I published articles in art and aviation periodicals, and curated a number of shows in Asia and the US. I was primarily interested in the way the artists interpreted their work, relating it to cultural motifs and incorporating unusual mediums.
I also began building my own kites, initiating several series that I continue today. I have explored a number of approaches, utilizing the traditional Japanese edo planform. Some of this work is illustrated on the website.