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Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL

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Open Burble – Usman Haque

  • On August 30, 2006

Project Development, visualisation & flight tests

Commissioned for the Singapore Biennale 2006, Open Burble is the most recent public art work of Usman Haque. It is a further development of his earlier well known Sky Ear project where a non-rigid carbon-fibre structure, embedded with one thousand glowing helium balloons, mobile phones, sensor circuits and LEDs responsed to electromagnetic waves creating a floating "cloud" of light that revealed the natural electromagnetism of our environment, and also how our mobile phone calls and text messages delicately affect the new and existing electromagnetic fields.

Sky Ear 2004

Open Burble adopts the technology of Sky Ear but explores a more intuitive way to enable people to engage directly with the tactile experience of flying the cloud. 'Participants will divide into groups in order to assemble about 140 hexagonal "clouds" into a complete Burble, built to such a scale that, when inflated with helium, it will soar upwards like Jack's beanstalk.'

Building a module of Open Burble structure, the final construct will be 10 times as big

Just as the participants are the generators of the Burble's 60m tall form, so too are they the ones to control it. They hold on to it using handles with which they may position the Burble as they like. They may curve in on themselves, or pull it in a straight line – the form is a combination of the crowd's desires and the impact of wind currents varying throughout the height of the Burble. The Burble will move, rustle, tangle, fold in on itself and create turbulence as the wind catches it like a sail. Suddenly, the entire construction will ignite with colour, sparkling in the evening sky.

These images some some night testing of 1/10th of the whole piece.

As people on the ground shake and pump the handle bars of the Burble, they will see their movements echoed as colours through the entire system. They will see their own individual fragments, perhaps even identifying design choices they have made. Their invididual contributions will become an integral part of a spectacular, ephemeral experience many times their size that they have come together to produce.

Concept image

Open Burble will premiere this coming Friday September 1st. at the opening of the Singapore Biennale. I wish I could go but I'm at Ars Electronica so if anyone does get to see it please let me know what you thought of it and send me some images.

Also involved at stages in the project were Rolf Pixley – algorithmist / dynamic chromaticist; Fred Guttfield and Kei Hasegawa – detail designers; & Susan Haque – logistics

The Burble is constructed from:

  • Over 1 km of 6.35mm carbon fibre rods
  • Over 1 km of Excel D12 high performance sailing rope
  • Approx. 1000 latex balloons (24" and 36")
  • Approx. 1000 fishing lock-swivel clips
  • Approx. 1000 Sky Ear boards by Senseinate/Seth Garlock


  1. verity gwyther

    This is a weird one! I am trying to find a lost loved friend called Sue who had a son called Usman! Her maiden name was Woodcock. Once I have got over the excitement of thinking that I might have found her, I will look at your stuff which looks amazing. If Sue is your Mum can you pass my email address on to her please. Here’s hoping. Best wishes Verity



  3. Why don’t you ask Usman –

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