Hale Tenger: Balloons on the Sea

April 2011

'Balloons on the Sea', a video installation by turkish artist hale tenger, creates a technologically mediated space in which a popular turkish pastime can be experienced in both its meditative and anticipatory aspects.

Along the rivers and coastlines of turkey, a common game is to lay out a string of colourful ballons in the water and attempt to shoot them from the shore. Drawn to the visual impact of the bobbing balloons, Tenger structured an immersive space in which the visitor is first confronted with a large screen
on which filmed footage depicts the intact string of balloons floating along the ocean.

Crossing behind this display, however, the viewer finds a series of smaller projections installed at a range of angles, each of which focuses on an individual balloon. at random, a balloon will pop, only to reappear whole later on, waiting to be again blown up and reemerge in an endless cycle. As in the turkish pastime itself, a tension is created by the knowledge that a balloon will pop, without any way to predict which it will be.

The environment permits viewers to move back and forth between the gentle flow of the full string of balloons and the expectant tension of the layered screens that lie both physically and conceptually 'behind' it. The effect
'leaves the viewer in two worlds: while one charmingly invites to indulge oneself in the joyful reverberations of the gently floating balloons, the other, almost as soft as a whisper, brings the spectral side of their existence into focus.'