Falling Up, Dancing Down was a performance/installation that is part of my ongoing research interest into the limits and constraints of human movement through and within space, and ways in which the body can suspend and evade gravity. Particular to this project the focus is on notions of achievement and failure and how can we fail without falling?
Falling Up, Dancing Down was based on a balloon flight that took place in California in 1982 by a Lawrence (Larry) Richard Walters, where he used 45 eight-foot, helium filled, weather balloons and a deck chair to soar 15,000 feet into the sky, entering controlled airspace. Walters achieved his life’s ambition but less than a decade later he took his own life, unable to meet his own expectations beyond that achievement.
Using performance as a method of addressing and questioning ideas surrounding success and failure I adapted elements of the original event to develop a performance/installation where the body was suspended approximately15ft in the air by helium filled weather balloons whilst rope and weighted ballast prevented the body floating further into the sky. Once reaching a state of suspension I remained there until I chose to release individual balloons and allow gravity to slowly pull me back to the ground. My aim was to achieve this state of suspension in mid-air – the body being pulled in two polar directions by both gravity and the helium balloons - but also to control my descent to the ground.
Falling Up, Dancing Down was part of Dundee Live, a city wide public art and performance festival in Dundee between the 8th and 17th July 2011