We commissioned multidisciplinary art and design studio Troika to create an artwork that would welcome passengers to the new British Airways Galleries Lounges at Heathrow Terminal 5. Troika responded with the brilliant and well-conceived kinetic sculpture, Cloud. Suspended between the escalators, Cloud signals the soft transition between the hustle and bustle of the shopping mall and the sanctuary of the British Airways Galleries by evoking the sensation of elevation and the feeling of rising above clouds and passing from grey skies into sunshine during a flight. At 5 metres long, Cloud was the first non-rectangular 3D structure ever made using 'flip dot' technology, a technique previously seen on 2D information boards in places such as railway stations. Using over 5,000 'flip dots', with bespoke engineering and specially developed animation software, Cloud constantly changes throughout the day. The 'flip dots' used represent Troika's programming by audibly flipping between black and silver, creating a mesmerising wave as they chase each other along the surface of the cloud. Reflecting its surroundings, the mechanical mass is transformed by external colours into an organic form that appears to come alive, shimmering and flirting with onlookers passing by both above and below.
Cloud was commissioned and curated for British Airways during an inspiring and long-standing relationship. Starting in 1996, BA had recognised the potential that art could play in its re-branding by increasing brand awareness and creating a new, contemporary image for the company. Our aim for BA was to establish a series of long-term strategies and a programme of diverse artist-led initiatives that would incorporate the company's goals and engage both passengers and staff. These strategies needed to reflect the world-class status of the company and also demonstrate its innovation and leadership within the industry through art. Over the twelve-year period that we worked with British Airways we helped them to develop an impressive art collection that included over 1,500 works and over 60 special commissions, several of which have since been the recipients of esteemed industry awards.