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ACMI Re/commends: Destruction Diaries

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Pop! Pop! Poppoppoppop! 

Within 20 seconds, I’ve lost count of how many balloons have gone bang. Yet somehow whenever a sharp implement nears the vulnerable rubber, the moment manages to warp and stretch time itself. It expands into a seemingly infinite pocket of dazzling anxiety, only to disappear again in an instant. This is the attraction and repulsion of Jan Hakon Erichsen’s balloon obliteration.

Jan Hakon Erichsen is a Norwegian artist who creates video art that features contraptions sculpted from found objects. He’s “exploding” right now thanks to his series called Destruction Diaries.

In these videos, he comes up with increasingly elaborate ways to make balloons pop, using (and often wearing) those sculptural contraptions. They’re fascinating, just not for the easily stressed.

The series recalls Marina Abramović & Ulay’s Rest Energy (1980), or Bas Jan Ader’s Fall videos (1970), or Erwin Wurm’s series of One Minute Sculptures (2006) (made famous by the video for Red Hot Chili Pepper’s Can’t Stop). 

Yet it's viral popularity shows that its very much of the moment. There’s a surreal deadpan humour that makes these videos so clearly internet culture. The rhythm of editing wouldn’t be out of place on TikTok or Vine. The sculptures have the same energy as Simone Giertz’s robots. The pursuit of endless variations on the same idea mirrors Kazuhisa Uekusa’s tablecloth tricks.

Perhaps most interesting is the comment section, where one Instagram user wonders, “What is the intention of this?”. When art and internet culture collide it's bound to leave a good chunk of us baffled, and yet, we can’t look away. I'm giving Erichsen a solid double tap.

By Jim Fishwick, curator