In Cantonese, “wasting air” is a phrase commonly used to describe things or actions that are useless. Inflatable objects, for example, have long been associated with toys and disposables such as balloons and bouncy castles, and may be seen by many as dispensable, temporary, recreational and unsophisticated—a futile “waste of air”. Dancing with the Light aims to challenge this stereotype by delving into the potential of inflatables. The result is an interactive installation combining light and inflatable motion, transforming air into shape and movement.
Dancing with the Light comprises 15 glowing inflatable motion components, arranged radially in three layers. Programmed air pumps continuously adjust airflow into the light-weight structure to coordinate its movements, which are simultaneously coordinated with lighting. These components are connected to sensors installed around the exhibiting area, enabling them to respond to audience behaviour with “latent”, “vigilant” and “dynamic” movement. This demonstration of the range of movement achievable by inflatable motion may point towards a future where it is utilised in architecture, stage design and even lighting—and no longer uselessly “wasting air”.
AIR23 is an inflatable structure research team founded in London in 2020 by Paul Chung and Johnathan Ma. It began as part of the architectural master programme at the University of Westminster. The team focuses on digital inflatable-motion design and works on experimental installations that explore the potentials of air structures for the future.