Everyone knows how helium can produce a funny voice. The larynx is a resonator and sounds propagate faster within it if it is filled with a gas that is lighter than air. But a helium balloon is more than that. It works similarly to panting in the frost, to blowing warm air on a cold windowpane, to jumping under a bridge and listening to the echo, to putting your tongue out in snow to melt a few snowdrops. Each of these activities is pleasant, because it gives us direct proof of our presence in the world. It’s actually difficult to call it an activity. It’s more like resonating. And the effects are more experience-focused than causing any permanent changes within the surrounding space. They consist of another form of physical presence and involvement, of stimulating interest in the world and its rules.
We took this experience and use it as inspiration for interactive fun in public space. These games with helium hinted at the need of a prism: something that will transform our everyday urban experience, something that will change the sound. We replaced the eponymous balloons with other effects. Apart from encouraging us to emit energy, these were also be helpful in testing the local boiling point. They suggested what excuses can provoke people to become keenly involved in the evolving of the city, to being present in public space.
Idea by Maciej Frąckowiak