Brian McCutcheon, Splashdown, 2011. Commissioned by the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Courtesy of the Artist.
Splashdown (2011) reconsiders the ambitious terrain of flight, as well as an imaginative exploration of the realities of everyday life on earth. It represents an alternative flying machine that consists of an aluminum folding lawn chair that has been tethered to thirty-nine colorfully painted fiberglass balloons with long black cords. The previously taut cords have become tangled upon landing, in contrast to the optimistic spiraling trajectory into space made concrete in Flight and Rocket Scientist. Here the flying machine sits inert, a metaphor not only for the conclusion of the exhibition and the return to reality but also for the end of NASA’s space shuttle program. Above all, the sculpture reminds us of the enduring need for creativity and imagination in the scientific, industrial, interpersonal, and commercial world that we inhabit today.