'Attachment' is a poetic machine conceived by Swiss designer David Colombini. The machine allows people to send digital messages, images or videos into the air by attaching them to biodegradable balloons.

The idea began as David's diploma project in Media and Interaction Design in Spring 2014 at ECAL (University of Art and Design, Lausanne). In October 2014, the project received support from the the Migros Culture Percentage (Grant fund for Digital Culture) to develop the final object. In 2016, the machine was built in collaboration with designer Thomas Grogan and the help of Niklas Hagemann.

'Attachment' is a poetic concept, a message in a bottle 2.0. Inspired by the rusty machines of Swiss sculptor Jean Tinguely, our fully automatic poetic machine gives physical form to the digital message you send via our website.

First, it engraves your message onto a thin piece of balsa wood that is connected by a string to a wooden clip. A balloon stock conveyor belt is then activated to place a balloon above a helium valve that automatically inflates it. Finally, a simple two-piece wooden clip seals the balloon, which is then released into the air where it will travel haphazardly to a random recipient.

  • Photo of the Poetic Machine, London, december 2016
  • Photo of the Poetic Machine, London, december 2016, Screenshot video
  • Detail of Attachment, At Mapping Festival, Geneva
  • Balloon just released in the air. At Mapping Festival, Geneva
  • Found wooden message and detail of balloon and clip
  • Attachment at Cinekid Festival, September 2016
  • Attachment at Cinekid Festival, September 2016, Screenshot video by Maarten Berkers
  • Attachment engraver in action, At Mapping Festival, Geneva
  • Detail of engraved message
  • Detail of the control box of Attachment and air compressor

"I have always been attracted to what is in the air, and remember winning a balloon release contest when I was about ten years old. My balloon flew from Switzerland to Austria."

Attachment was inspired by the book "La société de l'anticipation" by French writer Eric Sadin and is a way to take a resist the current use of «smart» technologies. this poetic concept, using current technology allow us to communicate differently and rediscover the unexpected, the random, and the serendipitous.


Video by Calum Bowden and David Colombini. December 2016.

The video narrates the true story of a message sent by Thomas during an exhibition in Zurich and found by someone in Slovakia at more than 1000km from the location of the machine.

How it works

1. Connect to attachment.cc, upload a poetic message, and attach an image or a video if you like.
2. Thanks to the mini engraver included in our machine. Your name, your message, your email address and a generated code will then be engraved on a thin wood plate. 3. Your message is attached to a balloon inflated with helium and sent in the air. 3. The balloon and your message will travel randomly.
4. Someone, somewhere might find it.
5. If so, they will connect to this website, type the generated code (www.attachment.cc/discover.php) and discover your entire message and image or video (if you include one). If they decide to, they may send you an email back. They can also locate the balloon they found on our interactive map of all found balloons (www.attachment.cc/map.php).

Ecological concerns

have always been important to this project. The balloons are made of biodegradable latex, while the message itself is engraved on a thin piece of balsa wood. We have also developed a simple two-piece wooden clip to seal the balloons. As the machine will primarily be installed outside, we are aiming to make it fully solar-powered.