This was the last image I captured in Toronto prior to boarding a long haul flight to Taiwan 台灣 little more than a week ago. Pictured here is Tilted Spheres, a massive steel sculpture by Richard Serra, installed 2002–2004, prior to the opening of Pier F at Toronto Pearson International Airport in 2007. The building was actually constructed around this imposing monument to the ritual disorientation of international air travel.
The airport is a movement processing machine, which directs the passengers through its spaces to the aeroplane (and back out). It channels and directs the flow of passengers through both security and retail spaces. Serra’s Tilted Spheres requires an act of passage, the walls all tilt inwards as well as curving, creating a looming pathway to be traversed.
The sculpture slowly comes into view as the traveller descends the escalator from the mezzanine. After reaching the floor, a decision must be made: pass through one of the three channels or go around. I decided to pass straight through—and stopped in the middle to test the acoustic properties of the piece by clapping my hands together. Sure enough, there was a strange, reverberated echo, an alien sound ringing in my ears.
With an odd smile I continued on my way. 17 hours later I landed in distant lands.