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Falling Up, Dancing Down


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Photograph by Alan Richardson

Falling Up, Dancing Down is a performance and installation which explored ideas of failure and how can we fail without falling.  This performance was inspired by a weather balloon flight that took place in California in 1982 where truck driver, Larry Walters, unable to achieve his dream of becoming a pilot in the USA Air Force due to bad eyesight, decided to attempt flight by creating his own flying machine.


Walters used 45 eight-foot, helium filled, weather balloons and a deck chair with the aim of floating above his home approximately 30ft in the air.  His aircraft accidentally broke free from the tether line that held him to the ground and he soared over15,000 feet into the air, illegally entering controlled airspace.


For Falling Up, Dancing Down, the artist’s body was suspended approximately 15ft in the air using 22 eight-foot helium filled meteorological weather balloons with rope and weighted ballast preventing the body floating further into the sky.  The body remained suspended, being pulled in two polar directions by both gravity and the helium filled balloons, until individual balloons were released, controlling the descent to the ground.


This performance took place on 15th July 2011 and commissioned by Dundee Live, a performance and public art festival organised by D-Air: Dundee Artists in Residence.

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