Tickling the Sky

Israeli designer Doron Gazit has harnessed the wind to create immense visual surprises — and a whole new form of art

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Doron Gazit's artistic revelation came two decades ago when he visited a remote Bedouin tribe in the Sinai Desert.

 The Israeli designer always kept a handful of balloons in his pocket, a habit from his college days when he earned money twisting them into shapes for children in Jerusalem. Never before had these nomads seen a balloon — and it caused instantaneous delight. "They tried to hug and squeeze it," he says. What was it about balloons that caused so much joy, he asked himself? And then it hit him: it wasn't the colored latex of the balloon itself that was so fascinating but the air it contained. From that moment on, Gazit became a sculptor of the wind, and as he puts it, a student of "airchitecture."

Gazit has spent the intervening years working not with paint or marble but with wind, using immense tubular inflatables to give it shape, form and color. With powerful blowers, he's created "vertical wind," sending tubes shooting up into the sky. His collection of lifelike 60-foot-tall Fly Guys caused a stir during the closing ceremonies of the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta as they danced and twisted among the crowd. His colorful creations have been wrapped around buildings, draped from a cliff and joined together to form immense, freestanding sculptures. He is planning now to weave clouds using tubes dragged from airplanes.

He and his designers at Air Dimensional Design, Inc., have created breathtaking pieces that have entertained millions, yet the artist always comes back to those thrilling moments with the small group of Bedouin. "It's the capacity of balloons to cause such a deep feeling of joy," he says, "that makes working with the wind so exciting."

By John Ross

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