Watch This Now: A Stairway to Heaven Made Out of Fireworks

Image by Lin Yi, via Cai Guo-Qiang

Image by Lin Yi, via Cai Guo-Qiang

New York-based artist Cai Guo-Qiang has been working with gunpowder to create art since the 1980s, when he first started experimenting with it in his drawings. Eventually, this led him to experiment with gunpowder on a much more physical and site-specific scale, what he calls "explosion events." 

His most recent explosion event, "Sky Ladder," took place on June 15 at 4:49 a.m. in his home town of Quanzhou City in Fujian Province, China. Created as a tribute to his grandmother, who recently turned 100 years old, this installation used pyrotechnics and a hot-air weather balloon to create a blazing ladder that rose 1,650 feet into the sky above Huiyu Island Harbour. The fiery event lasted about 2 minutes and 30 seconds.

This is the third attempt by Cai to create the "Sky Ladder" – he also tried in 1994 and in 2001, 9/11 happened and he had to postpone another try until now.

See "Sky Ladder" below, along with two other impressive gunpowder works by the artist: