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Giant Biodegradable Balloons Are The New Messages-In-A-Bottle

David Colombini's "Attachment" lets users send messages—as text, videos, or photos—up into the air on a biodegradable balloon.

If you're the kind of person who waxes poetic over messages in bottles or time capsules, the new project from ECAL student David Colombini should capture your imagination. Like both the bottled scroll and buried coffer, it's about sending something out into the world to be discovered by strangers.

Known as Attachment, the project imbues a sense of intrigue and mystery to digital communication. Through a website you can choose to send a message—a video, photo, or text—up into the atmosphere, transported on a biogradable balloon. The website is connected to a custom-built machine which receives requests, prints them along with individual codes, attaches the notes to balloons, and off they go. If you're lucky enough to find a balloon, you can head to the same website to retrieve your message and its attached digital content using the code.


It might be a convoluted convoluted way to blast a video into the viral stratosphere, but that's not the point. "The basic idea was to take a stand against the current use of 'smart' technologies by creating a poetic concept, using current technology that allows us to communicate differently and rediscover expectation, the random, and the unexpected," Colombini states on his website.

There's also an interactive map which shows you where the balloons have been discovered (mostly in France, since that's where this hybrid of performance and interactive sculpture is situated). The next step for this work-in-progress? Biodegradable tubes and full automation, says Colombini. At the moment, the rolling of the paper and its clipping to the balloon are done by human hands—"a poetic performance between the human and the machine which is interesting as well." the artist notes. One day, however, Colombini wants it all done by a machine at the click of a button.

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