This Floating Sea Of LED Balloons Turns Music Into Dynamic Patterns

Adding LEDs and the use of digital tools, “Cyclique” revisits the primary function of this party time favorite.

CYCLIQUE (version courte) courtesy of NOhista.

If you’ve got a few hours to spare, try racking your brain for a practical use for a balloon. Tacky birthday party decorations aside, the humble balloon doesn’t seem to offer a world of possibility. But with a bit of childhood nostalgia, creative minds have given the balloon its magic and splendor back--and are trying to redefine its primary party function. Think of it as giving the balloon a little dignity. 

That’s exactly what new media artist Bruno Ribeiro AKA NOhista and Collectif Coin artistic director Maxime Houot have done with Cyclique, transforming the balloon into a sort of blank sheet onto which drawings can be executed--with light, and with music. 

Recently revealed at a nuit blanche event in Amiens, France, Cyclique is a light and sound installation composed of a matrix of 256 balloons inflated with helium and equipped with LED lights. Each balloon plays an important and unique role in this hypnotizing audio-visual display. 

The floating 700 square-meter structure changes its shape as the wind flows through the balloons, immersing viewers in an artificial synaesthetic landscape where the soundtrack becomes the orchestra conductor. For over 25 minutes, as the music and wind vary, the structure alternates between contemplative passages and more rhythmic sequences centered on a revisited version of the Tenori-on digital music sequencer designed by Japanese artists Toshio Iwai and Yu Nishibor.

To create Cyclique, the Collectif Coin focused first on the installation’s technical details, including air-resistance tests, implantation of the LED lights in the balloons, and the creation of a DMX system which affords a control of the entire lighting system, conceived as a pixellated projection for the balloon backdrop. 

Using Ableton Live and Resolume, Nohista was able to create a symbiosis between Cyclique’s sound and lighting elements. As Ableton plays the sound sequences needed for the installation, it feeds midi notes to Resolume, which translates them into a brightly-lit video projection. The end result of this electrifying union are the geometric and dynamic patterns of Cyclique’s army of LED lights. 

An interactive version of the project is in the works, which will allow viewers to create their own universes by playing with the Cyclique sequencer. We’ll keep you posted...

Check out this example of video animation who can be interpret by the LED balloons : 

Etude du rebond from NOhista on Vimeo.

Director - set design - concept : Maxime Houot

Set design - sound and lighting design : NOhista

Production : Collectif Coin

Coproduction : CCSTI Grenoble-La Casemate