VertexList Gallery
Brooklyn NY, 2005

Petriflight is a sculpture that integrates aspects of biological species with contemporary technological machines. The project has involved sculpting the form of a full size helicopter from simulated dinosaur bones. I am interested in exploring both real and metaphoric influences that living organs and fossils have had on the evolution of objects. I am attempting to create an object that merges contemporary technological phenomena with prehistoric remains in order to create an object that merges two distant epochs in the evolution of life on earth.

Petriflight fuses the remains of an ancient world with a contemporary flying machine in order to offer an alternative reconstitution of the archeological fragment. While paleontologists piece together a body and theorize a way of life from bones and fossils, Petriflight moves from the forensic to the fantastic. I am interested both in the unique sculptural properties of the helicopter -an agile and economic vehicle for human flight with clear links to the world of insects and birds - and its similarity to the skeletal characteristics of dinosaurs. The sculpture links our desire to fly with our archaeological knowledge of early life, both of which represent dramatic cultural and technological achievements. The fantasy of Petriflight liberates fossils from the earth and launches them into a context in which a sculptural object can represent ideas from two distinct worlds and thereby create its own timeless existence.

I have been researching my project and building models of the piece over the past two years; while visiting three dinosaur collections: The Fundy Geological Museum in Nova Scotia, The Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto and the Museum of Natural History in New York City. All three museums have unique collections that allowed me to explore the evolution of different bone structures; from the early Triassic period at the Fundy Museum to the wide range of creatures from several pre-historic periods on display at the other museums. There is an enormous range in size of specimens and diversity of interpretation of the different dinosaurs found in these three museum collections. Spending time in these collections has allowed me to look at some of the parallels that exist between museological displays and contemporary sculptural practices.

Ilan Sandler, 2005