flight

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Art Design

Solar-Powered Air Balloon by Tomás Saraceno Shatters Records, While Protesting Lithium Mining

February 18, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images courtesy of Aerocene Foundation. Photography by Studio Tomás Saraceno

In late January in Salinas Grandes, Jujuy, Argentina, artist Tomás Saraceno (previously) launched a black air balloon powered only by the sun and air, forgoing lithium, helium, or fossil fuels. By absorbing ultraviolet rays to heat the air and allow it to raise, the balloon can hold 250 kilograms, or about two people. The project, titled “Fly with Aerocene Pacha,” became the world’s first sun-powered flight with a pilot and was exhibited as part of Connect, BTS, an arts initiative organized by the South Korean boy band. The global project has connected five cities with 22 artists who have helped fulfill the mission of redefining “the relationships between art and music, the material and immaterial, artists and their audiences, artists and artists, theory and practice.”

Breaking six records with the World Air Sports Federation,  Aerocene Pacha eclipsed previous markers in altitude, distance, and duration for both men and women, thanks to pilot Leticia Marques. During its flight, it reached an altitude of 272.1 meters above ground and crossed 2.56 kilometers. The longest flight lasted an hour and 21 minutes.

In a statement, Saraceno added context to the project that falls at the intersection of art, culture, and environment, speaking to the abundance of lithium in the area that’s being mined for use in batteries. “This extractivist attitude is evidenced in the Salinas Grandes by the recent rush to mine lithium, furthering the man-made violence that incites climate change and mass extinction, the race to colonize space and disturbed balance of interconnected ecosystems,” he writes. The ballon prominently displays the phrase, “El agua y la vida valen más que el litio,” or “Water and life are worth more than lithium.” Activists from indigenous organizations attended the launch of the balloon, protesting the extraction process.

The Kirchner Cultural Center in Argentina is hosting a special exhibition, which includes video of the historic flights, devoted to Saraceno’s work through March 22. To see more of the artist’s ethically minded projects, check out his Instagram. (via Hyperallergic)

Aerocene Tethered Human Flight, launches in White Sands, NM, United States, 201.5 Courtesy of Aerocene Foundation. Photography by Studio Tomás Saraceno, 2015.

 

 



Photography Science

A Rainbow of Light Diffracts Through Hummingbird Wings in Photographs by Christian Spencer

July 18, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

All images © Christian Spencer. Shared with permission from the artist.

Australian photographer Christian Spencer has lived within Brazil’s Itatiaia National Park for nineteen years. The lush natural surroundings offer a multitude of photo opportunities ranging from pumpkin toadlets to false coral snakes. One of Spencer’s most fascinating finds is the way that light diffracts through the wings of hummingbirds in flight, resulting in a rainbow of colors within the birds’ feathers. The photographer has been following the petite birds for years, and his film recording of the phenomenon was included in his award-winning 2011 short film, The Dance of Time.

More recently, Spencer has returned to these full spectrum moments. Each image in the artist’s hummingbird series captures sunlight filtering through the wings and tail of a black and white Jacobin hummingbird. Despite our age of post-production and photo manipulation, the images were not digitally manipulated; the visual phenomenon is naturally occurring.’WINGED PRISM’ (below) won a prize at the Museum of Modern Art in Resende RJ Brazil, and is available as a fine art print on Spencer’s website. You can follow along with Spencer’s animal encounters and nature-inspired paintings on Instagram. (via My Modern Met)

“WINGED PRISM”

 

 

 



Design

Fasten Seat Belt Sign Not Included: New Furniture Designed Using Retired Aircraft Parts by Plane Industries

May 3, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

In 2016, Plane Industries (formerly Fallen Furniture) debuted a massive chair made using a reclaimed cowling from a Boeing 737 airplane engine. Over the last three years, the small UK-based company has continued to expand their array of furnishings and home goods that are designed and built with parts from civilian and military aircraft. Using exit doors, wheels, exhaust cones, and leading edge slats, Plane transforms them into functional lamps, tables, clocks, and chairs. Their newest design is the BAe 146 Cowling Chair, a smaller companion to the original 737 design.

Plane Industries was founded in 2012 and is led by two brothers who were inspired by their farmer father’s ethic of saving and repurposing materials. The team works out of a studio in Bath, England. See more from Plane Industries on Instagram and Facebook and shop the collection on their website.

 

 



Design Documentary

Rubber Powered Model Airplanes Take Flight in New 'Float' Documentary Trailer

March 10, 2019

Andrew LaSane

The full trailer for the documentary Float (previously) introduces the world to a niche indoor sport that involves building and flying self-propelled model airplanes. Directed and edited by Phil Kibbe, the film follows two American pilots, Brett Sanborn and Yuan Kang Lee, as they gear up for the sport’s main event: the F1D World Championships in Romania.

The new trailer showcases the elegant movement of the model planes, and the delicate technique that the pilots use to tightly twist the rubber bands that power them. The movement of the planes appears to be slowed down, but the movement of the pilots and spectators confirms that the footage has not been altered for effect. The world premiere of Float will take place on April 5 at the 43rd Cleveland International Film Festival, in Cleveland, Ohio, with additional screenings throughout the weekend.

 

 



Photography

Time-Lapse Photographs Capture Swarms of Airplane Lights as They Streak Across the Night Sky

December 31, 2018

Kate Sierzputowski

Pete Mauney has been interested in observing the dizzying patterns of planes at night since high school. As a teenager the photographer would watch airplanes has they circled Manhattan, imagining their trajectories and how they might intersect. Although he has worked with night imaging for the few decades since, it wasn’t until he began to photograph fireflies that the idea to return to his initial inspiration struck. As he practiced and improved his techniques for long exposure and editing, he realized he could make similar images of the swarms of airplanes that were circling large cities, rather than his backyard.

“Like the fireflies, airplanes are highly engineered systems that do the same thing reliably over and over again,” Mauney tells Colossal. “The chaos and form in the images come from them not happening in the same spot, but maybe a bit more over there, introducing difference. Each image is a mystery and I find the reveal moment about as magical as one can get within the otherwise non-magical world of digital photography.”

His photographs capture the streaks of light that blaze across the night sky when slowed down during a long exposure, showcasing prismatic flashes combined with starscapes and positioned above calm environments. Mauney will have an upcoming solo exhibition at the Kleinert/James Center for the Arts (Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild) in Woodstock, New York from July 5, 2019 to August 18, 2019. You can see more of Mauney’s images, of both flying planes and darting insects, on his website and Instagram. (via Kottke)

 

 



Amazing Photography

Floaty Bird: When a Camera's Frame Rate Matches a Bird's Flapping Wings

July 18, 2017

Christopher Jobson

When reviewing the security footage from outside his house in Austin, Texas, Al Brooks spotted an unusual sight: a bird seems to hover past the camera with its wings completely stationary. Of course it wasn’t really hovering (and no, it’s not suspended by strings) but rather the frame rate of the camera matched the flaps of the bird’s wings perfectly resulting in a stroboscopic illusion. This is the same stroboscopic effect you might see in a video of airplane propellers that aren’t moving or when the wheels on a car appear to be frozen. (via Swiss Miss, Neatorama)