The assignment during the workshop 'Documentary' of the Foac was open. 'Make a documentary series.' Already during the first lesson, the omens of Covid-19 were in the country. Less than a week later, the intelligent lockdown started and although the workshop came to a halt, I needed a project. And I wanted to do that at home. So that I could continue to follow my subject. I decided to blow up a balloon, tied it around a thick nail, and put it in a hole in the wall. I put a flash on it and placed my camera on a tripod. From then on, I captured the balloon every 12 hours, at 11 a.m. and 11 p.m., hoping to capture the process of time, decay, and impermanence.
Before reading on, I would like to ask you to keep in mind an answer to the question below.
"After how many days do you expect the inflated balloon to become an empty sachet?"
Assuming that a balloon would have shrunk to its maximum after 16 days, which would have yielded a perfect 4x4 grid, I had to adjust my expectations. The balloon barely emptied. On April 15 I had to replace my battery, so I tried to approach the old position of the camera based on old images. A small difference was visible. In the meantime I also noticed that my freedom of life was limited. I had to be at the camera every 12 hours and therefore could not visit my family in Friesland. Something I felt more in need of as time went on. Given the slow pace of decay, ideas arose about how the process could possibly be accelerated. Although I did not want to, on the one hand, mix the human hand in this report, this seemed to take the form of a month-long action. When the barely shrunk balloon shifted on April 26, I grabbed it from the wall and pushed a safety pin through the knot hoping to speed up the process slightly. An exciting action, but due to the elasticity of the balloon, the tiny hole was closed without anything happening. Then I tried again in the middle of the balloon. I was surprised that nothing happened even then. It felt like a sign that the balloon should continue on its own path. I hung it on the wall again and continued the recording.
May 10 was my brother's birthday and that coincided with Mother's Day. I had not been with my family for over 2,5 months so I wanted to go that way. However, I did not want to give up my photos for that. I decided to ask my punctual neighbor to take the pictures while I was away. On May 8, I asked her if I would write the instructions on paper, film, or if she could come over and practice it. She came along with cleaning wipes and mittens, and I talked behind the furthest curtain. She did the action 3 times.
I left for Friesland and she sent me a message on May 9 and 10 that things had gone well. Once home, on May 10 before my evening shoot at 11 pm, I saw that the last images were black and the flash had not fired. I just picked up my key and thanked her with chocolates. Somewhat disappointed, I called a friend who laughed and told me to ask for the chocolates back. She pointed out to me that this did benefit the report. After all, it was how things went. It made it a stronger story.
The window that was ajar has blown off the hook. The balloon has blown off the wall and landed on something. It has a tiny hole. Not visible but I feel the air flowing when I put my finger in front of it. From then on, I capture the balloon every few minutes.
The decay is now visible, 44 days later.
I excluded the pictures of 11am in this document to keep in more simple. The time of recording this experiment has felt like an eternity. I have experienced time more consciously. Because I couldn't leave home, because it is a time of crisis. I am curious how long the balloon would have hung if it had not fallen. The contrast with the balloon I gave my niece (that balloon that lasted only a minute and a half) is great.
A path for everyone, a path in time.