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The technical feasibility is confirmed. The team is ready. The sky is waiting. The fundraising objective is attainable. The project is happening.
After two years of collaborative research with a broad group of independent artists, engineers and scientists, the art project Geostationary Banana Over Texas (GBOT) is ready for production.
The GBOT team has confirmed the feasibility of the project and awaits funding confirmation to start the final stage—the production of the 1,000-foot banana that will hover at near-space altitude.
Since the beginning of the project in November 2005, the team has steadily been verifying the technical aspects for the construction of this unique airship thanks to the input of an active group of consultants donating their time and expertise.
Briefly, in 2007 two key tests were carried out, thus concluding this series of verifications. In June, the navigation system was put to the test with the launch of three banana-shaped stratospheric balloons. Later in the fall, a final piece was launched from the north of Mexico, reaching an altitude of 95,000 feet and staying up for five days. These final tests served to verify meteorological studies of high altitude winds and prove the feasibility of having the banana loitering above the same region. To view a history of the major developments, please refer to the GBOT website (in Latest Update).
In addition to being ready for the final production of the 1,000-foot banana, a major airship company has offered their expertise for this production. This last fact represents a positive collaboration that will ensure launching on schedule. However, certain specialized fees and material costs for this production have increased the final revised budget to 1.5 million dollars.
Finally, there exists a high level of optimism about raising the necessary funds before mid-June, the deadline to start production. Consequently, the team is ready to immediately implement the logistics for the final production as soon as half of the amount will have been reached (750,000 dollars). And later when the objective is attained (1.5 million), a live feed will start on the internet showing the development of the project. Thus, people will be able to see the ongoing construction of the banana online, as well as listen to comments from the team working on it. This live feed will continue until the launch of the piece and during the entire month of the intervention.
In all, everything is in place; presently, we are focusing our efforts on getting the necessary funds to start the final production and make this artistic intervention a reality.
HOW TO MAKE IT A REALITY
To gather the necessary funds, we have adopted a new system of fundraising where people, on an individual basis, can make a big difference. In a way, it is similar to the research process where specialists, as individuals, have had a major impact through their collective contribution by helping to resolve the technical aspects of the project.
This funding initiative comes from the point, an organization with an innovative way for setting up grass-roots fundraising campaigns (without taking any cut on the funds raised).
Its strategy can be summarized by the money back guarantee concept: If you want this project to happen, participate with what you can. If the project is not realized, your contribution will be reimbursed.
What this really means is that people supporting a project make a pledge, but only send their donation if the objective is achieved. For this project in particular, it means that each contribution will only be collected once the 1.5 million dollar objective is reached, which is what is needed to make the banana fly. For more information, please go directly to the People’s Campaign.
This fundraising system, honoring people’s efforts, has attracted many participants to collectively support projects. For this particular artistic production, we believe that the number of people needed to participate is entirely realistic. For instance, if one person contributes ten dollars, 150,000 people (less than a small city) can make it happen.
Naturally, interest and dissemination of the project will increase the number of people engaged in this collective participation, about which we are confident. Many people are following and supporting this project; close to four million have already visited the website, and the idea has reached many more through worldwide media attention.
In sum, the project presents itself today with a viable strategy to generate its own funding. The technical aspects have been resolved and the team is ready to start the final production; this makes us believe that the project Geostationary Banana Over Texas will be realized within the pre-established time frame.
A FINAL REMARK ON THE IMPACT OF THE PROJECT
Beyond just the realization of an art project, this accomplishment means the first near-space intervention of its kind, with the largest airship ever built, all supported by ordinary people. Further, it will unlock (in a universal way) the access to this technology, which up to now has been monopolized by wealthy governments and large corporations. For example, a small community could develop its own communication system—free internet, telephony, cable television and so on; or, it could serve for monitoring forest fires, the weather or rescue operations, all at a fraction of the cost in today’s industry.
Seen as a major art project supported in its entirety by regular people in different locations, this realization can offer a new way to support the arts that transcends geopolitical boundaries. At a time when profit-based economy prevails, this project presents itself as an alternative for large-scale artworks, without necessarily falling into entertainment or commercial productions.
The fact that people can get together and collectively support artistic expressions, beyond what an artist or artist collectives can produce on their own, frees the imagination to the impossible—and yet, it is possible.
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