During the past few months, MovingCities has been moving around – in China and in-between China and Europe. We saw cities stitched together by runways, gazed upon the world from our windowseats. A selection of 20 – aerophotography – images from recent arrivals in and departures from Lisbon, Brussels, Shanghai 上海 and Kunming 昆明市.
And a short introduction to a 24-year old Portuguese priest making real airplanes (from real paper) in 1709.
The first documented balloon flight in Europe was by the Portuguese priest Bartolomeu Lourenço de Gusmão [1685-1724]. On August 8, 1709, in Lisbon, Bartolomeu de Gusmão managed to lift a small balloon made of paper full of hot air about four meters in front of king John V and the Portuguese court. [source]
The history of the hot air balloon is one of many attempts, as this short story on Bartolomeu Lourenço de Gusmão attests [source]:
On April 19, 1709, Bartolomeu de Gusmão announced that he would present a flying machine to the court.. He received authorization from King D. João V to demonstrate his invention before the Royal House.
On August 3, 1709, he made the first attempt in the Hearing Room of the Palace. However, the small balloon made of paper was set on fire before it could rise in flight. Two days later, a second attempt was successful: the balloon went up about 20 palmos, to the astonishment of the assembly. Fearing the possibility of a fire, the palace servants attacked the device before it had reached the ceiling.
Three days later, on August 8, 1709, the third trial was made in the Patio of the House of India before D. João V, queen D. Maria Anad and Habsburgo, the Papal Messenger Conti Cardinal, the infant D. Francisco of Portugal, the Marquês de Fonte, nobles and ladies of the Court and other personages. This time he had total success. The balloon had risen slowly, then started to fall, having exhausted the flame, into theTerreiro do Paço. The first lighter-than-air device having been constructed, The King was so impressed that he granted to the right any and all flying ships to Gusmão from then on. And for all those who dared to intervene or to copy his ideas, the penalty would be the death.
MovingCities wasn’t flying in paper machines – and nowadays a few hours longer, a few thousand kilometers further – and saw a lot from up in the air: tents, towers, road, detached houses, bridges, office buildings, warehouses, shopping malls and holiday homes. And possibly everything else: large-scale Chinese factories and mega-festivals on Belgium soil, Portuguese road infrastructures and Shanghainese suburbs, glasshouses around Kunming, the fussy inhabitation of Flanders,the incredible repetitive residential compounds of China.
We fell asleep, woke up in many different cities.
We saw linear, circular and kind-of rectangular cities.
We experienced monotony.
Boredom and the built environment.
We saw artificial lakes, cities and countryside crawling into each other.
We travelled back and forward, oftentimes wishing we invented the hot-air balloon.
We left from airports located in the center of the city, arrived in airports located in peripheral – almost placeless – areas.
From above, we saw the Green of Europe, the Grey of China.
Pictures by movingcities.org