Evan Taylor gets spacey with his art

When Evan Taylor tells people that he is a Studio Art and a Biology major at Gustavus Adolphus, the response is usually along the lines of: What’re you gonna do? Illustrate textbooks?

In early February he demonstrated  a place where art and science collide when he sent a weather balloon outfitted with a Styrofoam cooler holding a video camera and a GPS system about 125,000 feet into the air to capture footage.

For comparison sake, this is about three times as high as an airplane flies — and incidentally required conversations with the FAA. He is not the only person to have done this experiment.

“I watched $800 fly into the air,” said Taylor, who is from the Mankato area and worked here at the Great Lakes Aquarium this past summer. “Once it went into thin air I just thought ‘Oh crap. It’s gone.’”

The GPS was programmed to send back location information every 10 minutes, but Taylor lost contact with the balloon for about three hours. He and a friend headed toward Faribault, and when they finally reconnected with with the navigation system they found they were less than 10 miles from where the gear landed in the snow, making just a 6-inch divot.

He was able to watch the footage on his laptop as they traveled back to Mankato. The video from the less than 3-hour space tour (above) includes the ascent, the weather balloon bursting, and the fall back to earth — slowed by a parachute.This is compressed into a video that lasts just more than 2 minutes and is set to music.

He says on his Vimeo site: “The idea sparked when I climbed to the highest point of Oahu, Hawaii to take photographs, and realized that I wanted to go higher…into Space.”

Taylor doesn’t have big plans to top this feat.

“I told all of my friends, I need help getting my bucket list together,” he said. “Not that I’d be trying to top that. For me, I think so many people have nothing but good ideas. Just go do it.”

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