Just over 60 miles north of Tokyo, in the sky over Utsunomiya, there floats a giant head. Yes, a giant head, which appears to be of a gigantic middle-aged man. It is a phenomenon that has caused quite a stir among the local residents. The mysterious object was nearly 50 feet long and 23 feet wide, and first appeared over the dry Kinugawa riverbed on the afternoon of December 14th. The head then ‘magically’ made a second appearance – this time right in the heart of the city of Utsunomiya, over Nishiki Elementary School.
The balloon installation came courtesy of the Utsunomiya Museum of Art and an art collective called ‘Me’. In order to choose a face, the artists collective set up a booth in a crowded street in North Tokyo, and asked people to submit their faces for consideration. An elderly local was eventually chosen because his face reminded one of the artists of a dream that she had when she was young.
Images of the faces of 218 men were collected in total from the booth on Union Street in the middle of Tokyo. From among those many local faces, the one that was chosen was drawn onto a balloon in three dimensions, incorporating thousands of tiny dots to create a pointillist portrait; the art collective spent two months meticulously painting Ben-Day dots onto the balloon’s surface, giving the art object a comic book effect. It took 67,000 dots to cover the 50-by-23 foot surface. Then, another balloon filled with helium gas was inserted inside, and the huge face was able to take flight over Utsunomiya.
The floating head project was created from the simple idea of allowing people to enjoy works of art outside of a gallery setting, and also as a way of fostering communication and exchange. The “Middle-Aged-Guy in the Sky Day” project was proposed last year by the modern art team called “Me” which means “eye” or “eyes”.
As you might imagine the ojisan has been a huge hit on social media, with several observers posting illusory images that make it look like they are holding the face in their hands.