LAUNCH Research

Ongoing survey of D.I.Y. and unorthodox “launches.”

A simple survey for artists who have launched things into the air was created in conjunction with our ‘AIR/LAUNCH’ event on May 15, 2011. Survey results are indexed below.

What did you launch? To participate, fill out our launch questionnaire and email us at spweatherstation(at)gmail(dot)com.

Background / History of D.I.Y. and unorthodox launches

Artist Survey Results (surveys below):

KELLY COYNE

What did you launch?

An AstroCam® RTF Ready-Built™ Flying Model Rocket

How did you launch it?

Estes engines and launch platform.

Why did you launch it?

I wanted to see what it could see, and what I couldn’t. It was about the strategic aerial view, and about rocketry, missiles, and bombs. The launch area was Wendover, Utah, a significant American WW2 historical site, where the Enola Gay practiced before going to drop the bomb on Hiroshima.

One of the launch points was right outside the hangar that housed the plane. It was also a region used extensively for the development of missiles and rockets, from Buzz Bombs to ICBMs, with several historic and contemporary sites nearby as well. It was about the dialectic of rocketry: being on one hand about positivism, optimism, upward-ism, assertion, “male-ness,” the immediate; and on the other hand the dropping, the collapse, the spent-ness, the after effects, the impact, long term. Between these two things is that soaring moment of momentary stasis, of transition, the peak, betweenness. That is the fragile moment I wanted to capture too, the fulcrum, between up and down.The eye.

How long was it airborne?

Not long. It launched, reached its apogee, snapped a picture on 110 film (!) and came back down.

How did you retrieve what you launched?

It landed near the launch site, moments after taking off.

What did you find?

I caught black and white images of the desert floor. Dust and scrub. It didn’t really matter. Whatever was there. It was about the act of capture, of aloft image-making at the apogee, that sort of dizzying view downward, after the joyride up, when you are just realizing you are about to fall, maybe to your death. The liminality of inevitability.

Are there other examples (from science, art, or popular culture) of other launches that interest you? Was there one in particular that inspired you to do this project?

Not really. This was a whim, based on place.

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More about project at Wenover, UT – CLUI Residency

CAROLINE WOOLARD

What did you launch?

My freshly cut hair- braids attached to balloons.

How did you launch it?

First, I attached balloons to my braids. Second, I cut the braids and released them to the sky.

Why did you launch it?

Because hair belongs to the heavens.

When did you launch it?

July 12, 2006

How long was it airborne?

A few days? I don’t know for sure.

How did you retrieve what you launched?

I attached a ribbon with text to the balloon-braids:
“Five years of hair released to the sky three days before August and please tell me how you found it.”

What did you find?

One braid was found on by a lone surveyor on Sable Island, 180 miles (290km) from where I released my hair in Halifax.

“Hi there my name is Susan Hamilton and i live in Dartmouth nova Scotia and i found your ribbon on the shore lines of sable Island i was there doing research for BIO(Bedford Instatute of oceanography and i was suprised to see a balloon so i checked it out and thought i would e-mail you and let you know someone has found it ….good luck ”

Sable Island cannot be visited and is notorious for shipwrecks and wild horses. This mythical place is a protected island with 250 days of fog, white sand, and 150-400 wild horses. It is visited only by scientists and a preservation society and lifesaving establishment founded in 1801 to “reduce the suffering and loss of life and cargo that resulted from the frequent shipwrecks” and perhaps limit plundering. There have been over 350 recorded shipwrecks since 1583. Today, giant weather balloons are used daily to alert ships at sea like a lighthouse.

Are there other examples (from science, art, or popular culture) of other launches that interest you? Was there one in particular that inspired you to do this project?

Not that I can think of.

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Artist’s website

Video of the launch on youtube

CHRISTINA LEUNG

What did you launch?

A small goldfish inside of a toy capsule, filled with just enough water for it to travel safely. A wire and twine basket was customized to hold the capsule and then attached to a helium filled weather balloon.

Why did you launch it?

To let the fish experience a sensation that it could not experience safely on its own.

How long was it airborne?

It was in the air and in the capsule for less than 10 minutes at a time. In between flights, I would put the fish in a larger tank, for resting. But the balloon was used over a period of several days, after that the helium started to leak out of the balloon and could not carry the capsule with the water as easily anymore.

How did you retrieve what you launched?

The balloon was always tethered by the tied end of the balloon with 70 feet of balloon string, so the goldfish was flying over 70 ft in the air, among trees and open air, but then safely pulled back down.

What did you find?

That the fish could survive the journey but that I would never know if it enjoyed it or was frightened by it…

Are there other examples (from science, art, or popular culture) of other launches that interest you? Was there one in particular that inspired you to do this project?

I’m not that knowledgeable about other “launches” but I do like airborne things and the science behind flying – planes, space shuttles, or birds, etc. I was more inspired by using an animal and trying to give it an experience outside of its natural system.

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Artist’s website (for fish launch)

JANE D. MARSCHING

What did you launch?

A silver and blue 12 foot long revisioned version of a failed experimental kite designed by kite meteorology pioneer Lawrence Hargreave in the late 19th century

How did you launch it?

It took three people: one on the line and two to hold the kite, waiting for the right wind on top of Blue Hill in Milton, MA, at the Blue Hill Weather Observatory

Why did you launch it?

To read a story to the sky: the central chapter of Jules Vernes’ Journey to the Center of the Earth, in which the narrator reaches the open sea at the center of the earth and exclaims in wonder. The story was broadcase to the sky via a small mp3 player and speaker attached to the kite line.

How long was it airborne?

Multiple times over a three month period of testing, testing, and more testing, with lots of crashes into various trees and buildings. Finally it was up for over an hour as the sun set.

How did you retrieve what you launched?

Long poles, tree climbing, and running

What did you find?

The sound of the sky listening to a story being read to it. Migrating birds followed the kite as it crossed their path.

Are there other examples (from science, art, or popular culture) of other launches that interest you? Was there one in particular that inspired you to do this project?

The kites of Lawrence Hargreave, Otto Lilienthal, and the Wright Brothers, as well as the vast world of kite enthusiasts.

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Artist’s website

Article about the work in Drachen Foundation Journal, ‘Discourse from the end of the line’ (journal approx 15mb PDF)

EMCEE C.M.

What did you launch?

Balloons with K.I.D.S. membership cards attached, and an invitation (written on the balloon) to come to hang out in the blanket fort we made at the Bronx Blue Bedroom Project on Alexander Avenue in Mott Haven.

How did you launch it?

The balloons were just filled up with air, not helium, and I threw them out the window.

Why did you launch it?

To meet new people.
How long was it airborne?
Maybe 20-30 seconds. They ended up across the street or around the block pretty much.

How did you retrieve what you launched?

I didn’t.

What did you find?

Only one person responded, but he was pretty cool. He came up to the blanket fort, up three flights of stairs on his roller blades. He was 10 I think. We hung out for awhile, drew pictures, had some snacks. And I invited him to come back for a dinner a few weeks later with some other artists and folks. He brought his friend and his appetite. There’s some documentation about that launch on this site.

Are there other examples (from science, art, or popular culture) of other launches that interest you? Was there one in particular that inspired you to do this project?

Not really. But my partner Caroline did this project before I ever knew her.

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Artist’s website

MATT HILGER, JASON HIRATA, NEPO HOUSE

What did you launch?

A pre-paid cell phone that had 3 contacts (Jason Hirata, Nepo house, and mine (Matt Hilger)) sealed in a balloon filled with helium

How did you launch it?

We tied a weather balloon filled with helium to the smaller party sized one that housed the cell phone. Then attached a series of party sized satellite balloons to ensure flight.

Why did you launch it?

As part of a show happening at the Nepo house that was titled Water, Wind, and Fire we overheard a subtitle that jumped out at us or maybe we invented it, ‘Leaving Earth Behind’. Out of that conversation we built this idea to leave earth or the place of the show behind, and created a conversation elsewhere. To meet and possibly collaborate with the finder of the phone in the next Nepo house show.

How long was it airborne?

I cant say for sure, but the last time I saw it, the cell phone was flying very high in a south westerly direction

How did you retrieve what you launched?

We are still waiting for contact

What did you find?

Anticipation

Are there other examples (from science, art, or popular culture) of other launches that interest you? Was there one in particular that inspired you to do this project?

Chat Roulette and Richard Holmes’s book ‘The Age of Wonder’

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Websites: Matt Hilger, Jason Hirata, NEPO House

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