Born in 1973 in Argentina, Tomás Saraceno is a contemporary artist who has gathered an impressive number of feats over the span of just a few years. After obtaining an architecture degree, he completed art and architecture postgraduate studies in both Buenos Aires and Frankfurt, the latter in 2003. Passionate about engineering and science, he took part in the International Space Studies Program at NASA Ames in 2009. That was also the year he participated in the prestigious 53rd Biennale di Venezia. He has also won the Calder Prize and his works have been exhibited in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and in Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin.
His art focuses on floating sculptures, with various projects circling around the idea of cities or structures suspended in the clouds. Saraceno’s latest project is Aerocene, but it is much more than an art installation. The goal is to create air-filled sculptures that can float around the world, without using any kind of fossil fuels or engines, but merely clean energy in the form of solar panels and rare gases. Suspended in the air thanks to the heat of the Sun, the sculptures transcend their aesthetic value to present a Utopian theme of a future where flight and passenger carriers are 100% free of CO2 emissions. Air, sun, wind – the sculptures open up a welcome discussion on our dependency on fossil fuels and climate change, but also provide an answer.
The solution is a collaborative and open platform that has the well-being of the planet and its inhabitants in mind. The artist has presented his first prototype at the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP21, in Paris. Large spheres with both transparent and reflective surfaces floated inside the striking Grand Palais, offering a unique and spectacular sight to the visitors. After the conference, Saraceno’s sculpture has successfully carried passengers in a flight that lasted almost three hours, at the White Sands National Monument, New Mexico.
The performance won the artist a new achievement, the World Record for the first and longest solar-powered tethered flight. Now, Saraceno is looking for partners in order to achieve his next goal, of sending Aerocene on a trip around the world. This flight will be a wonderful culmination of a collaborative project where the aim is to better understand the future of our Earth and of our species. Images courtesy of Tomás Saraceno.