The Black Balloon Project

Hive Projects in collaboration with City of London presents:
The Black Balloon Project

 ‘Human beings can see nothing around them that is not their own image; everything speaks to them of themselves. Their very landscape is alive‘ Guy Debord, 1959.

With the kind permission of City of London, Hive are pleased to announce the upcoming opening of the public art installation

The Black Balloon - Northbank by Charlie Hope and Jamie Hamilton.

The Black Balloon is a video installation documenting an artistic intervention into London airspace. The piece gives a unique perspective on the city of London which is by turns playful, uplifting and technologically innovative.

A video camera and GPS tracking system were attached to two helium weather balloons and released in the east end of London. The balloons and their payload swiftly ascend, drifting southwest over the city, crossing the river Thames, propelled by the wind, ascending several thousand meters until the balloons reach their apex over southwest London, looking down onto Battersea power station. As altitude increases and air pressure drops, the balloons expand, one exploding when it reaches it’s burst altitude. From here the remaining balloon begins its descent, making its way out, over the changing urban landscape and landing beyond the city limit of the M25 motorway in a field. The locations depicted are on a recognisable stretch of the Thames, the most distinctive landmark of the city when viewed from above.

The piece comprises three synchronised video projections with audio, observable through the windows in the metal façade along Paul’s Walk -pedestrians passing by will trigger the playback of the installation, the three screens will simultaneously play different image sequences from the balloon’s flight - allowing the viewer to form their own narrative of the balloon flight as they pass by.

The video is accompanied by a sound piece consisting of two elements. The wooden panels of the facade resonate, producing ‘Shepard tones’ - a sonic illusion in which we can hear what appears to be a pitch infinitely rising. From within the space we can hear the sound of three violinists, echoing gradually descending phrases back and forth giving the viewer the impression of hearing street-musicians accompanying the film they walk past.

The project has an enjoyable naiveté of child-like exploration that belies the highly calculated nature of it’s production based in the study of meteorological conditions and the employment of the latest technology. Through this we are offered a new perspective on our conventionally structured perception of the built environment of the city as part of Hive’s aim to bring alive idle sites and humanise public spaces as a platform for artists and the public to engage.