Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Killer performance art

An idiotic artist by the name of Simon Faithfull created an ‘art work’ by attaching an office chair to a weather balloon and setting it free over Hampshire. A video camera was attached to the chair to record the images, as well as a GPS so it could be recovered once the balloon bursts and the chair made a re-entry.

Here’s what the Telegraph’s art correspondent had to say about it:

You watch, in horrified fascination, as a generic office chair rises 18 miles (over South East England) dangling from a weather balloon.

The sound of static is ritualistically punctuated by a bell-tolling noise (which is actually sending back a GPS signal) as the chair twitches vulnerably in an environment where there’s no oxygen and the temperature is minus 60 degrees. Suddenly there’s a violent spasm and a leg hurtles off into the void.

“At that point, the pressure has burst the balloon off camera,” Faithfull says, “and the chair is actually falling. Only you can’t tell because there are no reference points.” While captivating at its most basic, physical level, Faithfull’s work also speaks of the futility of human attempts to escape “the trivial, the mundane and the self”. And also of the beauty in the soul’s constant attempts to soar beyond “the forces of everyday reality”.

To me it speaks of the danger of a bloody great 20 kilo (if it’s an ounce) office chair ploughing through someone’s skull at terminal velocity after hurtling through the atmosphere from a height of 18 miles - and the artist’s futile attempt to get a grip on reality. Christ - is the man totally insane? He needs locking up as a public nuisance!

A man in Australia burst into flames when he was shot by police with a Taser. He was carrying a can of petrol and a lighter at the time and had been sniffing the petrol. The police suggest that the lighter caused him to erupt in a ball of flame. Mmmm, strange that – you’d think it was the 50,000 volts from the Taser!


  1. Can I assume that the piece of performance art was called "The thoughts of chair man Simon" What is extraordinary is that the Health and Safety Executive seems to have allowed it to take place whereas they don't let you walk through some graveyards in case the gravestones fall over on you.

  2. If bits of chair hit people, will they photograph the mutilated bodies and call it art?

    As for the Taser story, it would have been more credible if the Australian police claimed that it was spontaneous combustion.

  3. Alan: You can't even have a rugby club bonfire on the 5th Nov these days.

    Kapgaf: Methinks there was a bit of fudging on their behalf.

  4. The man and the police in Australia were also performing art. But it went wrong.