Katchadourian started with a basic paper toilet seat cover and a camera phone, and then introduced a few scarves to create different backgrounds and airplane accessories ranging from an eye mask to a neck pillow to build a group of portraits. The resulting photographs resemble Dutch masters you might see in an art museum, but savvy travelers will recognize some of her props from around their airplane seat.
This isn’t Katchadourian’s first appearance on Gadling. We’ve previously admired her work with maps, and Mike Barish found a kindred spirit with her “Skymall Kitties” video.
Want to put your own spin on the laviator portrait? Snap a pic on your next flight and add it to the Flickr pool. You might even usurp my title as cutest laviator.
We’ve covered a lot of SkyMall contraptions here at Gadling. And, while many of those products have improved the lives of our furry friends, we’ve never been able to truly capture the essence of SkyMall’s relationship with animals. Now, however, the video above does that for us. SkyMall Kitties, created by Nina Katchadourian, is the best use of the internet ever.
It’s rare that we encounter someone who loves SkyMall as much as we do. But this week, SkyMall Monday is honored, excited and a wee bit giddy to profile not a product, but a person whose singular passion has enriched our lives. Nina, an artist based in Brooklyn, NY, produced the song and video that pay tribute to the cats of SkyMall. Needless to say, she has a place at the SkyMall Monday table anytime she chooses to join us.
And join us she did, for an exclusive interview. You’ve seen the video on other sites, but only Gadling spoke with Nina about SkyMall Kitties, her favorite SkyMall products and the unheard voices of SkyMall Puppies.How does one become inspired to write a song about the kittens of SkyMall?
First, you develop a compulsive travel habit, almost superstitious in character, which dictates that you have to flip through every single page of the SkyMall catalog each time you get on a plane. Second, you have to wind up on a lot of planes as part of your profession, which I do-I’m a visual artist, and I travel quite a bit for exhibitions and lectures.
Have you always been a fan of the catalog?
“Fan” might not be quite the right word. “Stalker” might be more accurate. I’ve been taking issues from the seat pocket in front of me for nearly a decade.
You’re amongst friends now. We share your compulsion. But, what do you actually do for a living?
I lead a few different lives. First and foremost, I’m a visual artist working in a lot of different media, including photography, sculpture, sound and video. I also lead a sort of sub-life playing music and play in a band called The Wingdale Community Singers based in Brooklyn. I also work part-time running a program for emerging artists called The Viewing Program at a great museum called The Drawing Center in New York.
The video is obviously very pro-cat. Do you own any felines?
Three of them, in fact: Sardine, Stickies, and Minimus, who appear in that order in the “Mount Rushmore” sequence of “Sky Mall Kitties.” The fourth cat on Mount Rushmore is Ellington, who belongs to a friend.
You’re shameless with your cat plugs. More importantly, do you own any SkyMall products?
Can’t say I do, although for a long time I’ve coveted that wedge thing that lets you lie down without having to smush your face into the floor when someone gives you a back rub. [Author’s Note: Nina is referring to the SkyRest Travel Pillow, which SkyMall Monday has covered in the past and I continue to test regularly.]
So is that your favorite SkyMall product?
I can’t really pick one product, but my favorite product image is probably the one of the guy slumped onto the inflatable pillow on his tray table [Author’s Note: She’s referring to the SkyRest Travel Pillow again and that’s pretty awesome.]. It looks so ridiculous, yet every time I’m on a long flight I secretly wish I had one, no matter how dumb it looks. I am also in mourning over a picture that doesn’t appear the same way it used to. It advertises a product that allows you to connect two beds in order to make one big bed. [Author’s Note: She’s now referring to the very awesome Create-a-King Bed Doubler.] They still have the picture, but they changed the caption. The caption used to read, “Together forever…or only for one night.” It was so romantic.
Let’s go back to the song and video. Do you feel bad for saying that one of the dogs looks like a seal?
Absolutely not. That is a factual statement, so I am cold-blooded about it: that dog DOES look like a seal. Nothing wrong with seals. Nothing wrong with dogs, either, I should say; the condescending anti-dog viewpoint of SkyMall Kitties reflects the views of the SkyMall Kitties themselves, not those of the maker of the song or video.
Speaking of dogs, will there be a SkyMall Puppies response?
I am crossing my fingers someone takes that up.
If people take away one important lesson from SkyMall Kitties, what would you most like them to learn?
I’d like people to realize that even when you are incredibly bored on an airplane, you can put that time into making something that can make a lot of people happy for just a few moments. Lots of “wasted time” can be an opportunity to pull from the mundane world around you and extract something of interest or value.
At the end of the day, do you believe that the SkyMall Kitties are happy?
We raise our voices and celebrate them in joyful song, but the SkyMall Kitties are actually a bit bored, disgruntled, and disdainful of those around them, like someone who has been on a long flight and is ready to land.
Very special thanks to Nina Katchadourian for producing SkyMall Kitties and for taking the time to talk to Gadling. Nina has made the song available for download here (for a $1 fee – totally worth it). You can learn more about Nina on her website.Thanks, as well, to Matt Gross, The New York Times’ Frugal Traveler, who alerted us to SkyMall Kitties via Twitter. If you’re a Twitter user, you can and should follow @frugaltraveler.Hat tip to The Awl, who appear to have posted the video before anyone else.
Check out all of the previous SkyMall Monday posts HERE.