The First Flight of Misha Nikolayevna (work-in-progress)

Artist: Randy Ginsburg

Medium: Live Film and Digitally Painted Background Art



Welcome to the maiden voyage of  The First Flight of Misha Nikolayevna, a work-in-progress film about finding freedom through flight.  

Here is a beginning. 


Misha Nikolayevna: Randy Ginsburg

Director of Photography: Peter Pavlakis

Camera Assistant: Stuart Solomon

Grip/Prop Handler: James Treadwell

Seamster: Cynthia Marrero

Prop Handler: Kartik Amarnath

Prop Handler: Max Freedman


A behind the scenes look:


What began as a hobby experiment I made to help myself cope with impending winter in quarantine is now an art piece to be shared outside my apartment. 


My experiment began unsuspectingly in October. I had a particularly thrilling Halloween where I experienced my first taste of flight on an e-scooter. And then suddenly one of my favorite days of the year was over in a blink. It always takes me a second to come down from it. Coupled with post-election whip lash and the weather starting to get chilly, I began experiencing the first whiff of the winter blues, a kind of seasonal depression I'm used to. However, this year it was amplified by the impending claustrophobia of quarantine in the winter. I felt like I had been sentenced to the Gulag. Simultaneously though, I discovered that, through an app which connects a drone's live video feed to a VR headset, it was possible in virtual reality to "fly" in real-time, outside of my apartment, while staying warm physically inside. 


This inspired me to begin building a flight simulator in my bedroom. I obtained an 8 foot tall hammock swing stand and successfully suspended myself from it with a motorized construction cable and harness. Then, I placed high powered fans in front of it while wearing a silk cape, a material most suited to billowing majestically in the wind. The last ingredients I needed were the drone and VR headset. As I ventured into obtaining these last items, I discovered that New York City (for good reason) has the strictest drone flying laws in the United States. And like a naughty teenager, I found myself completely grounded. 


Then, for fun one day, I showed up on zoom for one of our regular Ararat meetings, suspended from my flying contraption with cape and fan as a surprise spoof. In our conversations, we often shared what we were up to and this was literally what I was "up" to. At some point, I shared my disappointment around the drone laws and undeterred desire for flight. With the encouragement and support of the group, I realized I could still fly in another way and that this side-dish flying simulation hobby could in fact become the main dish for the upcoming Zine. 


So in the midst of an epic computer crash, surprise blizzard, and the coronavirus pandemic, I still insisted on taking off, though it wasn't all easy flying. Check out this video below which documents my process of experimentation of making the flying contraption!