hot air balloons

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Art

Massive Human Faces Loom Over Japanese Cities in Uncanny Balloon Works by Mé

July 27, 2021

Grace Ebert

“Masayume” (2019-2021), Tokyo Tokyo Festival Special 13. Photo by Kaneda Kozo. All images courtesy of Mé, shared with permission

An unlikely sight was spotted hovering over Tokyo earlier this month in a disorienting installation by the Japanese collective 目 (Mé). Titled “Masayume” or “dream come true,” the eerie artwork featured a giant human face printed on a hot air balloon, which launched above the city on July 16 as part of the Tokyo Tokyo Festival, an event organized to coincide with the start of the Olympics.

Bizarre and unexpected for most passersby, the single-day piece was derived from a dream Mé artist Kojin Haruka had as a teen. “‘Masayume’ will be carried out suddenly and without prior notice nor a clear reason, just like an image a 14-year-old Japanese girl saw in a dream, momentarily disabling the ordinary,” a statement reads. “The face will be gazing back at us from the sky in the midst of this pandemic. It is as though we are a part of the spectacle.”

“Masayume” is a follow-up to a 2013-2014 project titled “Day with a Man’s Face Floating in the Sky” (shown below) that floated a similar black-and-white balloon over Utsunomiya City, Tochigi. Each of the anonymous figures depicts a real person, and about 1,400 people applied to have their faces loom over Tokyo this round.

Mé’s work is on view at the Towada Art Center in a three-part group exhibition that runs through May 29, 2022. Check out the collective’s Instagram for more of its large-scale projects, including a massive wave sculpture rippling through a museum. (via Spoon & Tamago)

 

“Masayume” (2019-2021), Tokyo Tokyo Festival Special 13. Photo by Tsushima Takahiro

“Day with a Man’s Face Floating in the Sky” (2013-2014), Utsunomiya City, Tochigi. Photo by Takao Sasanuma

“Masayume” (2019-2021), Tokyo Tokyo Festival Special 13. Photo by Kaneda Kozo

“Masayume” (2019-2021), Tokyo Tokyo Festival Special 13. Photo by Igarashi Tomoyuki

 

 



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.

 

 



Amazing

Timelapse of the 2014 Albuquerque Hot Air Balloon Fiesta

October 30, 2014

Christopher Jobson

balloons

Here’s a fun timelapse of the 2014 Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta (previously) filmed by Knate Myers. The annual event is currently the largest hot air balloon event in the world, seeing over 500 balloon teams take flight over a 9-day period.

 

 



Art

Albuquerque Balloon Festival Timelapse

November 18, 2013

Christopher Jobson

balloon-1

balloon-2

Even though I thought I could fully anticipate what this video would look like, I still wound up being delightfully surprised. Shot and edited by Joel Schat at the 2013 Balloon Festival in Albuquerque, New Mexico. (via swissmiss)