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Inflatable Art: A Look at How Artists Use Air in Their Work

Posted by Spencer Darr on Jul 18, 2016 9:00:00 AM

As we have blogged about before, inflatables are used for far more than constructing bounce houses and obstacle courses. Space architects are designing inflatables as a means of transportation for humanity to get to Mars, and the military used inflatable tanks to intimidate Hitler. But beyond science and military technology, there is a budding trend in the art world: inflatable art. Not restricted by the rigid form of other mediums, inflatables allow artists to conceptualize pieces that literally bend to their will.

Le Geant, Champ de Mars by Nadar

Nadar, a prolific writer, photographer, and hot air balloon enthusiast, constructed the largest hot air balloon in the world in 1858. Called the Le Geant, Nadar used the balloon to take aerial photographs of the Earth's surface.

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Photo from Nate Maas

The balloon was made of 20,000 meters of silk and could carry up to 80 passengers in its two-story basket. The enormous basket included six bedrooms, restrooms, a printing press, and dark room. The enormous balloon comes in slightly larger than the modern Goodyear blimps spotted over America's biggest football games.

Luminarium by Alan Parkinson

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Alan Parkinson creates inflatable art with his company, Architects of Air. In his luminaria pieces, he constructs winding mazes for adults using moon bounces as his medium. Blending Islamic, Armenian, and Gothic design elements together, each luminaria is composed of 20 tunnels zipped together. The luminaria are famed for their blending of light and color.

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These installations have appeared all over the planet, including Ireland, Belgium, France, and the United States. Check out their touring schedule to see if you'll have a chance to explore a Luminarium for yourself (the tour will be visiting New York or Florida this fall).

Sacrilege by Jeremy Deller

Unveiled at the Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art in 2012, Sacrilege is an inflatable construction of Stonehenge, complete with a moon bounce floor for visitors to bounce across as they interact with the public work.

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Artist Jeremy Deller describes the inflatable art as, "a way of interacting with history and archaeology and culture in a wider sense."

Self-reproducing Pedestal by Andreas Zybach

This piece by Andreas Zybach mergers the art world with the science world. Using wooden latticework, an air pump, and a cluster of balloons, the Self-reproducing pedestal represents the biological process of breathing. As visitors walk on top of the latticework, a balloon attached to an air pump inflates with each step. Once it is fully inflated, it becomes part of the cluster of balloons.

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Beyond a medium for artists to employ, inflatable art adds an interactive element to the pieces that everyone, from children to seasoned art critics, enjoys. The interactivity allows those who may not engage with art an introduction into the world and hopefully an appreciation of the different techniques that go into developing these bouncy pieces.

Topics: Inflatable Art

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