In 1858, Félix Nadar sailed above the newly transformed city of Paris in a hot air balloon. Camera in tow, he photographed the city from above and aerial photography was born. Returning to this early and simple form of aerial photography, Aurora Tang (assisted by Andrea Zittel and others attending the event) will guide a weather balloon, equipped with a camera, across the expanses of A-Z West, creating a series of photographs that depict the land from above. High Desert Test Sites invites those interested to come out and join us in the endeavor.
The exercise of photographing A-Z West with aerial balloon photography will be both conceptual and practical in nature–Andrea is in need of photo documentation of the land that is of a higher resolution than the satellite imagery available through Google Earth. For Aurora, the exercise in balloon photography explores the aerial photograph’s seemingly contradictory function as documentation–a precise recording of site–amidst its effect of distortion–its ability to render the three-dimensional flat and details indiscernible.
Aurora Tang is a program manager for the Center for Land Use Interpretation (CLUI). Prior to her involvement with the CLUI, she researched methods of documentation for conservation at the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI), working with colleagues from the GCI and Dia Art Foundation to document Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty using balloon photography.