It was all coincidence, finding at YouTube a video from this barely unknown FAI category, the F1D. Titles were written in japanese and the video looked like slow-motion until somebody appears walking normally behind the “floating” air-model; an exquisite feeling of deceleration took over us completely.

Following the ‘Fédération Aéronautique Internationale’ notation, “F1” means uncontrolled and “D” means indoor. Besides the maximum wingspan of 55cm, FAI limits the minimum weight at 1,4g. Competitions with this kind of air-model take very long time and the goal is flying as much as possible (sometimes it can take around 45 minutes after one launch). As a result we have more like a waiting competition or an antithesis of many nowadays’s performance concepts.

The F1D’s structure is built in balsa wood and handcrafted microfilm – very craftsman style – with a thin strip of rubber as propellant which will cause the propeller to rotate around 50 RPM, reaching a speed near 1m/sec. It should be noted that the energy required to maintain them in the air is minimal, and even small oscillations of air in the surroundings – like moving too fast or breathing stronger – are capable of influencing their glide.

This context means a great respect for other competitors. In other words, they are like an image of fragility and maybe sublimity… more than a competition it leads into some solidarity feeling.


The Volatile Hypothesis

So, our proposal aims to share with others that exquisite feeling of deceleration. Visitors will see through a modified LCD monitor an F1D slow flight exactly from the point of view of the video camera. It will virtually recreate the action ‘in loco’, matching the screen image to the adjacent room view (please see pictures bellow).

Hacking the LCD monitor by removing its polarizing layer and its fairing is a strategy to help visitors easily find the camera point of view and also an option to avoid fetishizing consumer electronics. Everything into this installation must be connected, from the air-model transport case to the electronics, construction plans and the recorded images.

Time length for the video will be the flying duration of our F1D (hope next time we can make it longer by having a wider space while recording). To set up this artwork we need just a couple of days and, after finished, it doesn’t need any maintenance.


general view from “Hipótese volátil”


vitrine with F1D and a bottle of nitrocellulose that was used to produce the wing’s microfilm


detail: the transparent acrylic structure was designed to hold the polarized filter considering the video camera focal length


detail: the video can be seen only through the polarized filter



hacked lcd monitor rearview: a RaspberryPI automates the video loop


Hope we can show you this time distortion device someday!

All the best,

Luciana Ohira and Sergio Bonilha