Art that isn’t just a load of hot air or pie in the sky thinking
Doug Aitken’s shiny balloon continuously presents different creations and voices on the ultimate road trip
It’s 72 hours to takeoff when Doug Aitken telephones from his studio in California. The US artist is preparing for the departure of his latest sculpture – a mirrored hot air balloon that will, from Friday, be floating through the Massachusetts landscape at will. He’s about to get on a plane, he tells me, to meet it in Martha’s Vineyard. He has hardly slept, eager for the journey to begin.
Commissioned by The Trustees, a members organisation that protects more than 100 sites across the state of Massachusetts, New Horizon is part travelling art installation, part happening, part rabble-rouser, designed to provide an entirely different encounter at each of its 16 scheduled pit stops.
Along with live music in the balloon’s gondola and light displays on the skin of the balloon itself, the ticketed programme includes conversations on climate change, digital identity and green cities, involving figures such as the architect Norman Foster and Nasa designer Scott Bolton (currently overseeing the spacecraft Juno’s mission around Jupiter), in tandem with artists, economists and ecologists...