The A–Z of Gravity’s End
– Your Ultimate Guide to Free Fall and Levitation
“Art is the method of levitation, in order to separate one’s self from enslavement by the earth.” Anaïs Nin
Much more than simply a guide or glossary, this book responds to the colossal themes of levitation and free fall through an artistic lens. We have combined a selection of ground-breaking anecdotes, legends, poems and essays on the history of levitation. It is a collage, a summary of our own experiments and investigations, that will take you, the reader, on a journey that straddles the fictional and the real. Encounter stories in which humans, frogs and objects are capable of floating freely through space, be it through magic, cheap tricks, advanced technology or other, more imaginative methods. An A to Z index helps you navigate your way through the dense jungle that is gravity.
Dreams of achieving weightlessness have plagued mankind throughout the ages. In the early days, levitation was a mythical phenomenon with religious, magical, spiritual and psychic connotations. Today, it is something we can accomplish in several ways, such as free-falling in aeroplanes or in space stations. Similarly, when man walks on the moon earth’s gravitation is partially nullified, and the weak gravity force on the moon’s surface make things fall in slow motion. If an astronaut were to jump high enough, he or she might fall into space.
Research into levitation and free fall is currently being undertaken across a kaleidoscope of subject areas, from chemistry, physics and parapsychology all the way through to the arts. United in our commitment to exploring various natural and mythical phenomena, we have had an ongoing partnership for more than twenty years. This collaboration has resulted in a series of installations that explore space and its limits, where everyday objects seem to have a life of their own. A recurring theme in many of our installations has been counteracting the force of gravity with the help of various tricks.
Within the framework of the artistic research project A Study of Free Fall & Levitation, we have given form to how levitation and free fall can, or may appear to, occur. The project is also about failing – situations where everything collapses in free fall. It has been the catalyst for further artistic endeavours exploring levitation, including a number of exhibitions, objects, installations and, most recently, this book. In addition to our texts, there are contributions from philosopher Aaron Schuster, who provided an essay about levitation in the art world entitled The Cosmonaut of the Erotic Future: A History of Levitation; and author Mikael Löfgren, who wrote the essay The Weight of Weight, where we can trace levitation through the political, scientific and cultural worlds. Pamela Jaskoviak’s poetic essay Face Down, focuses on falling and is written in three acts and Ann- Charlotte Glasberg Blomqvist wrote a piece on our collaboration and artwork.
Levitation has also been used for political means. In the summer of 1967, the activist Abbie Hoffman planned to perform an exorcism and levitate the Pentagon 90 metres into the air in protest against the Vietnam war. Thousands of protesters, armed with flowers and guitars, attempted to encircle the building, but were stopped by military police force. Despite the exorcism not going ahead as planned, the moment strengthened the political power of the left and marked a shift in history. So maybe levitation can help to change the world for the better. At the very least, it can help put things in perspective. As the professional wrestler Finn Bailor said:
“We’re all humans living on this tiny little rock, floating through space at, like, thousands of miles an hour. We should all just get along.”
Björn Hegardt & Theo Ågren, 2019