“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward," Leonardo da Vinci famously mused. Artists have long been fascinated with the prospects of flying and floating, from da Vinci's sketches of flying machines to Marc Chagall's dreamy paintings. And as advancing technology has catapulted art into the 21st century, the dream of "tasting flight" has become that much more real. Take for example, the mesmerizing art of levitation photography.
Black Balloon Antics by Damon Dahlen (Photo credit: Damon Dahlen/Huffington Post)
We have photographer Damon Dahlen to thank for this hypnotic moving image, a kaleidoscope of visual trickery and aesthetic awe. He's the mind behind an entire series of levitation photographs that seems to achieve the impossible. Men and women defy gravity with magical ease -- dancing, falling, hovering and soaring in midair. The stunning acts are captured in GIF form, bringing the act of flying to new and more beautiful heights.
To create his levitation objets d'art, Dahlen engages in a complex process of puzzling together static photos one after another. "I generally shoot the levitating person (a person in frame, resting on a stool or a ladder) and then a base shot. I then lay the levitation photo over the base photo and remove what the person is resting on," he explained. His moving images -- the GIFs -- are a bit more complicated, and can take anywhere between a couple of hours to a several days to complete. He has to repeat the process above over and over again, shooting several photographs, and taking into consideration speed and emphasis as the images come together in a frenzy of motion.
"I love the fact that the GIF has unlocked the middle ground between photo and video," Dahlen added. "It's no longer a medium that is just used for quick hits of funny parts of videos. With the powerhouse that photoshop has become and the realization that this new ability can allow artists to play in spaces that were not possible before makes the possibilities seem endless."
His results, featuring dark marionettes and ethereal music box dancers, seem well worth the exhaustion. Take a peek at Dahlen's hypnotic GIFs below and let us know your thoughts on his levitation style in the comments.
Editor's Note: Damon Dahlen is a photographer at The Huffington Post and these images are but a few examples of the breadth of his work as a professional artist. Many of the models in this series are, in fact, HuffPost writers, editors and staff members. His work has previously been featured by Saatchi Gallery, and you can see more of his static levitation photography below. For more levitation goodness, Dahlen suggests checking out the work of yowayowa and Ms. Aniela.