Helium (2018), Shawn Tang
Artist statement: In one of the popular destinations in Turkey, Cappadocia, we set out on hot-air balloon rides with some locals for multiple times in a span of 3 days. Different rides met different weather conditions, bringing us different colors in the sky. We as human beings, rising up in the sky, as spectators of the game we created, and seeing this world in a different perspective. In the mid air, as the sun permeates through the misty landscape below, one is urged to question our role pertaining to the environment we inhabit. Sure, having flying object going up above the clouds and across the oceans, yet it doesn’t necessarily imply our prominence in relation to the environment. We come and go, and no one will be there to see the rise and fall of our land. We’ve seen what we were meant to witness, and now we shall leave this land in peace.
The ‘Helium’ documents the ever-changing landscape of Cappadocia through a local popular sight-seeing transportation hot-air balloon. While it captures the colors of this place as seen from way up above and the merge of civilization and the ancient landscape, it also questions how much we, as human beings, are actually in control of in this vast landscape. Hot-air balloons, similar to viewing points at some tourist places, are supposed to provide a fixed and specifically curated view for us as visitors; most flying routes are carefully planned, and everybody is to have the same visual experience. We seem to want more out of the landscape, and that’s why we created hot-air balloon rides in the first place. However, the carefully planned routes and same-old routine is limiting our footprint, and letting our curiosity and ambition in exploring the landscape fall short. The series questions how much we are seeing, and how much more there is to see.
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