Plzeňské sympozia

Eva Bendová

Svět mezi dnem a nocí. Balon-oko, slunce, zatmění

s. 242–248, resumé s. 249-250

The article is devoted to the phenomenon of balloon flight and the motif of the balloon in art in 19th-century Czech and European culture. Empirical research into the fields of aeronautics and meteorology contributed to a deeper understanding of the atmosphere and to its "secularisation", and at the same time the possibility to liberate oneself from terrestrial gravity through balloon flights developed the field of artistic imagination. Taking off and flying could be regarded as spiritual meditation, freeing the soul from matter, "a flight into the sphere of dreams and poetry", and purification from the material world. The balloon itself is a borderline object; it can be related to the sun, like the mythical Icarus, and at the same time to the dark abyss of the earth. The ways in which the sky appears in its brightness, at twilight, or at daybreak, when its everlasting spheres are looked at, is the central theme of this paper. The balloon, with its perfect form, represented a metaphor of light and of contemplation, and was also an essential feature from the viewpoint of technology, a modern way of facilitating
the observation of unimagined meteorological phenomena, of climbing up to the clouds, and thus going beyond not only gravity but also sunrise and observing the eclipse of the sun.

Key words: aviation - balloon flight - balloon - 19th-century visual art

 

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