Balloon Mapping Collaboration


Balloon Mapping is a DIY form of aerial mapping using helium balloons and digital cameras. On Oct. 10, three SAIC classes in Sculpture and Art and Technology Studies visited an area in South Chicago to Balloon map the site. We launched two balloons from 91st Ave and S. Green Bay Ave at the southern border of what was the site of US Steel’s Southworks steel mill. The factory began in 1857 and eventually grew to a 600 acre site, employing some 20,000 people. In 1992, the factory closed.

The site had been cleared of all buildings with the exception of one, which now houses a real estate office. A Lake Shore Drive extension opened on Oct. 25, marking a new plan for the area. While at the site the classes took aerial photos and employed other tools (air sensors,  temperature sensors, soil tests) to record this land now– after its industrial nadir and before its predicted development to high-rise, lakefront condos.

Classes included were:

  • Art & Technology Studies: Sensing the Landscape
  • Sculpture: Mapping, Networks and Territories
  • Sculpture: Installation, Site, Environment

The Public Lab balloon mapping tutorials offer great resources for DIY aerial photography.

The map we stitched together can be found here.

Aerial images during the launch:

Images of the launch:

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