According to videos captured by onlookers and shared on social media, the orbs gradually shed their reflective coating until a white core remained.
While many assumed the orbs were giant Christmas baubles that had somehow been released during Storm Claudio, which battered France and the UK this week, they were part of a temporary art installation set up in central London to promote the new album of a musical duo.
The installation, called “Four World Set” and created by American artist Tom Shannon, was installed on Sunday night and was supposed to be on display until Saturday in St. Giles, off Tottenham Court Road.
Online, the footage sparked reactions ranging from obvious joy to utter disbelief, as some wrote songs and poems to the orbs running in noise.
🎶 Cover the roads with big stones
Watch the spheroids bounce and wobble
Waves of shredded Mylar casting
Fa-la-la, la-la-la, la-la-la
All London drivers are afraid
Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la la-la 🎶 https://t.co/uLDqUq9bXO
— Avram Grumer 🎲 (@avram) November 1, 2022
For some, the orbs brought back memories of the 1960s British TV series The Prisoner, which featured a large white sphere called Rover with the power to immobilize people’s movements. Others joked that the scene reminded them of Raiders of the Lost Ark, when Harrison Ford, playing Indiana Jones, is chased through a tunnel by a giant boulder.
“Imagine going home and sharing how you almost got hit by a giant, Indiana Jones style, and no one would believe you until this video,” wrote one Twitter user. “Life is really weird right now,” wrote another, simply.
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For those behind the installation, the news hit harder. Musician Kai Campos, one half of electronic music duo Mount Kimbie, said he was “heartbroken” after the wind caused at least two of the orbs to come loose.
He said the team responsible was “prepared for bad weather and strong winds, but it was just really unlucky”.