Like Alien Organs: A Chat With Jason Hackenwerth
In the hands of Jason Hackenwerth, balloons become car-sized anemones and quivering beasts. They become deep sea insectoid monuments in museums and exhibitions; they become pulsating and head-turning curiosities in public. Hackenwerth’s work shows up everywhere from the New Museum to TED to the Guggenheim to Poptech. And that’s where I caught up with this mad balloon artist of the future, at the annual Poptech conference in Camden, Maine.
This year’s theme was ‘resilience,’ and the curators asked Hackenwerth to create a new piece for the event. He obliged with ‘Bang Bang Boom,’ a work whose fleshy follicled tubes descended from giant booms in the trees. We talked about building a career out of balloons that look like alien organs from beyond.
MOTHERBOARD: So, why the balloon?
Jason Hackenwerth: Well, one of the things about balloons is that they are very compelling. Everyone’s attracted to balloons. Your hair is attracted—when I work on balloons in the studio everything wants to attract to them, they have so much static attraction. On some level they have that effect on people, the way that they are compelled. When I use them, they are warm and inviting and people want to imagine themselves in there. And so if I can capture people’s imagination for just long enough and just stop them for a minute from the daily routine and just think about nothing except for the potential for discovery.