Weaving art & science | Earth Day Network

EDN Artists for the Earthtm Spotlight: Tomas Saraceno

Argentinian artist, architect, and inventor, Tomas Saraceno, experiments artistically and scientifically in a cross-disciplinary network with the concepts of interconnectedness both in the terrestrial and the extraterrestrial realm, and in his practice, draws inspiration from clouds and spiders.

Aerocene (The Age of Air) is an artistic project that imagines an environment in a post-Anthropocene world without borders where mankind turns increasingly to the unlimited potential of the sun and the wind. Aerocene sculptures are enormous balloon kites kept afloat during the day by the sun’s heat and by infrared fluxes at night. Presented at the United Nation’s COP 21 Conference as a prototype, the first solar balloon broke world records in November 2015 by being the first and longest flight by a solely solar-powered vehicle – without the use of fossil fuels, solar panels, helium or batteries.

Reflecting a fascination with structures is the artist’s ongoing project, Cloud Cities, installations on the theme of interconnectedness and sustainability. They resemble networks of floating cells or suspended habitats including airborne gardens, floating bridges and large-scale models for futuristic dwellings.

In Orbit is a web of nets suspended 20 meters above ground, spanning 2,500 square meters and dotted with massive PVC planet-like spheres. As participants climb over the installation, their movements affect the other participants and communicate through the vibrations of the web.

Saraceno has been studying spiders since 2008. A pioneer in scanning and reimaging, he invented the technology to make the first scan of a Black Widow spider web. He recreated it in 14 Billions (2010, Bonniers Konsthall, Sweden) with 8,000 lengths of nylon rope connected by 23,000 individually tied knots and spanning over 400 cubic meters. Walking through the installation, the viewer observes himself as part of the structure and part of a community.

The artist sees the silk habitats of spiders as works of art and exhibits their ingeniously interconnected webs in Plexiglas boxes as sculptures. They are woven by a variety of spiders, some spiders adding to the work of another in ‘hybrid webs’. The beautiful hybrid designs are a metaphor for co-existence, collaboration and connection with other species.

The spider web artwork ties Saraceno’s interest in the cosmos and travelling through the air without the use of fossil fuel. Much of a web is suspended as Earth is within a complex universe, and the exhibits call to mind the ‘ballooning’ aspect of spiders that can use the wind to carry their webs great distances.

Saraceno’s world is utopian and stands against the current view that continues to record the calamity of climate change, but envisions no alternatives for change. With his balloon sculptures he proposes not only a way of traveling but a way of perceiving ourselves “at the bottom of an ocean of air”, his cloud cities envision new ways of living, and his spider webs are metaphors for creative collaboration. As such, he creates positive stories that offer visionary, forward looking solutions and hope for the future.

Photos:

In Orbit, 2013
Installation view at Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, K21 Ständehaus, Düsseldorf, Germany.© Photography by Studio Tomás Saraceno, 2013
Courtesy the artist; Andersen’s, Copenhagen; Ruth Benzacar, Buenos Aires; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York/Los Angeles; Pinksummer Contemporary Art, Genoa; Esther Schipper, Berlin. Aerocene, launches at White Sands (NM, United States), 2015
Courtesy Aerocene Foundation 
Photography by Studio Tomás Saraceno, 2015, licensed under CC by Aerocene Foundation 4.0