Saturday 2nd May 2009 and it was due to be a sunny but mild day. I had previously attempted to do this intervention 2 times before but had to cancel at the last minute due to weather changing at the last minute.
Ideally I didn't want too much wind, as it would make the setting up ridiculously difficult, but I also did not want it to be windless as then the balloons would not move around, as my intervention required this. For filming purposes I needed it to be fairly sunny to provide enough light for the camera to film successfully.
With me I had 2 video cameras, 1 digital camera, 2 tripods, 300 balloons, 2 balloon pumps, 200 balloon ties, string, top of a gazebo and the gazebo leg poles I used to weight the balloons attached to the string down with (as the duct tape did not stick to the ground as it had rained in the night).
I aimed to leave at 6 but didn't leave my flat until 0630 as I had balloons to tie up with string (used for the outside square of the balloons), which I had blown up during the early hours of the morning, all 56 of them.
I had 6 helpers (who all owed me favours by the way) to help me set up this intervention and it proved very essential by the time we got to the hoe after getting odd looks from the public who obviously have never seen people walking around town with 56 balloons!
Once we got there I was a bit annoyed to find it had rained a little in the night so the tarmac was damp, this meant I could not stick down the string with duct tape, so using the legs of the gazebo (that weren't needed anyway) I tied the string around them to act as weights. This worked fairly well as it keep them down, but also moved a bit in the wind to show which way the balloons wanted to go.
The balloons attached to the string turned out to be just a way of getting these balloons already inflated down to my site on the promenade as by the time we had walked there the balloons had tangled up so I got everyone to undo the string and then re do it. Four of us did this whilst the other three started to inflate more balloons.
Using the top of a gazebo we put the balloons that were slowly blown up, under it to keep them all controlled. Needless to say one or 2 did escape but lucky I had bought a pack of 300 balloons so I had 100 just incase some burst/broke/blew away.
Once the outline of the 56 balloons were attached to the string and in place like a square outline all the remaining 144 balloons were inflated and put under the gazebo.
When all the balloons were done we took out the metal pole structure of the gazebo so it was just like a plastic sheet over the balloons. I attached string to each corner and got 4 of my helpers to take it off taking care not to pull any balloons out with it. This worked very well and looked rather cool on the video, like we were unveiling some new balloon product range or something. But we weren‚Äôt. We were unveiling my intervention!
After taking a small amount of footage for the balloons with the cameras set how they were, I thought it would be best to place the cameras facing upwind as then I would be able to watch the balloons fly off.
To start with the wind seemed to die, so the balloons moved and shuffled a little, but after 15 minutes the wind seemed to pick up a little and then a few balloons fluttered out of the square and moved off into the distance. To avoid annoying the council or general public I then sent of a few of my helpers to go and catch the balloons so we weren‚Äôt littering the environment. Call me an 'eco-warrior' but I could not be the one to litter the place with nice 'un-green' plastics.
This didn‚Äôt seem like a good idea to one dog owner who was mouthing off (unprovoked I may add) about the noise of 3 balloons popping, which ‚Äòsounded like fireworks‚Äô which could scare dogs. A legitimate concern I may add but we made sure that no dogs were close, and even then all but that one were fine with it, some joined in! But to be fair, how else can you pop a balloon? And I would have been more than happy to have made sure no balloons were popped whilst her dog was nearby if she had politely just said. I can say though she was the only member of the public to be mouthing off, everyone else was fine and pleasantly surprised by the intervention.
Then after a few more minutes some more balloons went off which created I almost path like following of these red balloons! Again I sent some of my helpers off to get them as by this time some bin men had arrived and were giving us annoyed looks even after telling them they would all be picked up.
After a not too spectacular display of run away balloons and because of the fog that was moving in very rapidly (one camera was having difficulty focusing because of it) I decided to start packing it away. A lot of dogs and there walkers had been interested and intrigued by what we were doing and after asking one dog owner for some help, he got his dog to start popping all the balloons which was a good example of the public interacting with the intervention, along with people stopping and asking us what it was for. The red balloons seemed to bring a smile to everyone!
Then the balloons were swept away by a gust of wind and luckily I was filming so I could catch loads of the balloons moving off like what I was originally hoping for.
It looked great and if the fog had not moved in so quickly the camera would have been more able to focus properly and capture it better. The balloons moved quite quickly and in the same general direction obviously because of the wind, but they moved in a very human like way as the majority stayed on the tarmac and went in a fairly straightforward line in what seems like a skipping motion. I know their just balloons, but it looks like it.
I then made sure that we got all the balloons and picked up all the mess and left the site as we had found it.
Overall I was happy with how this intervention turned out. It is the first intervention I have ever done in this sense so I wasn‚Äôt too sure about it all but I feel I achieved what I set out to do. It would have been better to capture more balloons moving out of the square and leaving just the square outline of balloons but Mother Nature just didn‚Äôt want to help, until the fog came in and packing up had started! I would have liked to just let the balloons go and then go around with a camera later on showing where they ended up, but that just would not have been possible with dogs and people around, as they would think they are litter and bin them. To make the intervention better I think more balloons would be needed to just be let loose. 1000 maybe, that would be quite a sight again!