Created by artist Luke Jerram Sky Orchestra is an artwork designed to deliver music to sleeping people from out of the sky. A form of provocative urban art, Sky Orchestra questions the boundaries of public artwork, private space and the ownership of the sky.
The Sky Orchestra is made up of seven hot air balloons, each with speakers attached, which take off (at dawn or dusk) and fly across a city. Each balloon plays a different element of a musical score, creating a massive audio landscape:
"Like whales calling in the ocean, the same sounds may be heard in succession passing from one balloon to another across the sky..."
Many thousands of people experience the Sky Orchestra event live as the balloons fly over their homes at dawn. The airborne project is both a vast spectacular performance as well as an intimate, personal experience. A form of provocative acoustic urban art, Sky Orchestra questions the boundaries of public artwork, private space and the ownership of the sky.
Through the use of surround sound, Sky Orchestra aims to deliver a sculptural experience to the public, by lifting them into the creative space on the edge of sleep and then acoustically seeding their imaginations. To investigate the effects of sound on sleep Luke Jerram has been working with sleep psychologists at The University of West of England. A series of Dream Concerts have taken place and and the Dream Director installation has toured the UK. Findings influence the development of new Sky Orchestra compositions.
The Sky Orchestra is a collaborative project brought together by individuals from far-reaching disciplines:
Luke Jerram is an established international artist and creates sculptures, installations, live arts projects and gifts. Since his professional career as an artist began in 1997 Luke has created a number of extraordinary art projects which have excited and inspired people around the globe. His celebrated street pianos installation 'Play Me, I'm Yours' is currently touring and being shown in different cities around the world. Luke remembers:
“I first had the idea for a Sky Orchestra when I experienced the call to prayer at 3am in Tunisia. The voices calling from many different areas of the town simultaneously opened up a kind of sculptural map in my imagination. I could see the layers of sound building onto one another. The sky Orchestra is designed to share this experience, and deliver a giant surround sound performance artwork to the peoples homes. I hope that the music we play, lifts the public into the perceptual space on the edge of sleep, inspiring their imaginations with sound”
Dan Jones is a BAFTA award winning composer and sound designer working in film and theatre. He is the author of one of the earliest pieces of software for generating fractal music and his scores for films include Shadow of the Vampire and he has written for all the major British television broadcasters including Sir David Attenborough's The Life of Mammals. Dan Jones has produced 14 separate tracks of music for this innovative experimental art project. Some of the best musicians from around the UK have been recorded for this production. Among them Daniel Newell on Trumpet, Katherine Baker on Piccolo, Philip Harmer on Oboe and Cor Anglais. The extraordinary Japanese musician Joji Hirota was also commissioned to play Japanese flute and percussion.
In 2006 the RSC commissioned a second compositon for the Complete Works Festival which contains sleep related Shakespeare, spoken by Patrick Stewart and Janet Suzman.
Lead pilot Peter Dalby of Pheonix Balloons has coordinated and assembled balloon crews for London, Stratford, Switzerland, Birmingham and Bristol.
Tracking the balloons
This website features live tracking of The Sky Orchestra balloons on a Google map and archives of the balloons' journey that it can be re-played. The site has been created by Watershed, Bristol City Council and Play Nicely in celebration of this extraordinary project, which began in his home town of Bristol. The live balloon data is captured by a custom-built Android phone app, created by The Pervasive Media Studio, which records the balloon's GPS position every 10 seconds and uses the mobile network to relay this information to the web site.