These helium-filled balloons create striking installations
May 9, 2020 / 3 minutes of reading
About Philippe Parreno
Philippe Parreno likes to work across different mediums. As a result, throughout his career that has spanned decades, he has been able to blur the lines between film, photography, documentaries, and various other types of media. He has built up interest over the years that allowed him to distort the established boundaries that exist between real-time and the cinematic impression of time passage.
Parreno’s speech bubbles
Speech Bubbles, created in 1997, consists of massive cartoonish 3D speech bubbles that had been trapped against the ceiling of the gallery. Unmarked and floating in the gallery space, the speech bubbles have been filled with helium to make them weightless and also enable them to congregate and drift in one area.
Parreno designed his Speech Bubbles to hover on the ceiling of the space that they occupied creating a massive cloud with the intention of paying less attention to the architecture and more attention to the story. This philosophy and line of thought are completely in line with Parenno’s legacy of transforming gallery and museum spaces.
Additionally, the cloud that is created by the speech bubbles helps to change the nature of the space in which they are contained. By including them in the gallery, Parenno automatically creates a high-tech environment that is almost futuristic, managing to successfully link the present with the future.
Audiences turned into protagonists
Since the bubbles are also unmarked, Parreno was inviting visitors to inject meaning into them. As you may already know, speech bubbles are commonly used in comic books and cartoons to allow words and conversations to be understood. In this sense, the bubbles are frozen and empty without words or thoughts. As such, it is up to the attendee to fill them with meaningful language and in doing so, Parreno successfully turns audiences into protagonists that have the ability to control where the conversation goes.
Influenced by Andy Warhol?
According to some critiques, Parreno was also paying homage to the Silver Clouds which was created by Andy Warhol and exhibited back in 1966 in a New York gallery. However, while Warhol’s balloons were always in silver (and not speech bubbles at all), his were designed to defy density and gravity. Parreno’s speech bubbles, on the other hand, were designed to be filled with imagination.
This post-modern perspective of contemporary art, which Parenno shares with many other successful artists such as Warhol, helps to explain why Parreno’s bubbles are an asset that introduces audiences to new ways of inhabiting and exploring the world.