Move over Skywhale, there’s a new icon gracing the skies of Canberra! | HerCanberra

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Move over Skywhale, there’s a new icon gracing the skies of Canberra!

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We all know and love the monumental Skywhale but Canberra has a new iconic balloon—and you don’t need to leave home to catch a glimpse!

Don’t bother looking out your window—this supersized cockatoo is an augmented reality hot air balloon, created by Canberra design duo Camila De Gregorio and Christopher Macaluso.

Launched on Wednesday 8 September, the sulphur-crested Cockatoo balloon is an Instagram filter that allows users to fly the balloon all over Canberra, from Lake Burley Griffin to outside their bedroom window.

As new Canberrans, the founders of Eggpicnic decided to make the filter after talking about their regret of missing out on Canberra’s iconic balloon festival earlier this year.

“This is on our daily walks because we live a few minutes away from the lake, and it was just so beautiful,” says Camila. “I kept telling him [Chris] ‘I wish we were here for the festival.’ Then we kind of just looked at each other and went ‘Let’s make an AR balloon!’”

“The main idea is raising the profile of local native flora and fauna but also just allowing people to build a sense of joy to people as well at the same time,” says Chris.

Bridging the world between art, science, conservation and the public, Eggpicnic is a Canberra-based design studio devoted to wildlife conservation and the end of wildlife extinction through education.

Normally creating large-scale public art that has been featured in Sydney Olympic Park and Bondi Beach, augmented reality is the duo’s newest art form, as they look for novel ways to connect to their audience.

“I feel like it’s a new way in which we can communicate and showcase our work and have that inclusive aspect with the audience as well,” says Chris.

“It’s something which is more available, more participatory and more interactive.”

Along with a literal egg picnic in Milan 10 years ago, the cheeky cockatoo has played a significant part in Chris and Camila’s journey as artists and conservationists.

“We were living in Sydney for 10 years. When we moved to Sydney I was on the balcony and then I see this…like a baby dragon, and I have this cockatoo land on my balcony,” says Camila.

“Being from Chile, we have amazing birdlife, but we don’t have that level of interaction with birds where I was coming from.”

“This interaction that Australians have with their bird life actually occurs in very few places on earth, and the cockatoo was literally what got me into birding.”

Humbled by the overwhelmingly positive response from Canberrans and balloon lovers from around the world, Chris and Camila say that they’re going to release more Canberra based AR work in the future.

With their eyes on the skies, the duo hope to one day attend the Canberra Balloon Spectacular in person—and possibly watch a tangible supersized cockatoo take off from Lake Burley Griffin.

“If we find funding, if we find someone to make it, we’re 100% for making a real one,” says Camila.

“We’re keeping our fingers crossed and doing some research.”

Visit @eggpicnic and check the highlight reels to try the filter for yourself!

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