James Bridle & TDO Architecture: The Right To Flight

Sep

13-21

2014

Installation

This summer, artist and writer James Bridle is flying a balloon from the roof of the multi-storey car park and art space in Peckham, South London. The balloon, a large military-grade helikite, ascends to heights of 500 ft. from a structure designed by London based architecture and design studio TDO.

The structure consists of a rooftop hangar, workshop and exhibition space where the project has been ongoing since June. Attached to the balloon have been a variety of payloads, from darknet routers to aerial cameras, and the results of its experiments have been shared publicly and online.

'The Right to Flight' takes its name from a treatise written by the Parisian photographer and balloonist Nadar in 1866. He proclaimed that mankind had a right, even a duty, to ascend to the heavens. His friend the novelist Victor Hugo urged him to "deliver mankind from the ancient, universal tyranny of gravity!" Nadar was the first person to take aerial photographs, and led the daring effort to break the Siege of Paris in 1870. But ballooning has also taken a darker turn: from the Zeppelin raids of the First World War, to the use of surveillance balloons in Iraq and Afghanistan, and along the US/Mexico border.

Using an aerostat designed for just that purpose, The Right to Flight project investigates ways to return the powers of surveillance and omniscience to the surveilled, and attempts to rediscover Nadar's utopias in the possibilities of contemporary technologies, while making its own claim on London's increasingly crowded skyline.

BOLD TENDENCIES

Bold Tendencies is a summertime non-profit arts commissioning organisation which has transformed a disused multi-storey car park in Peckham.

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