Utopian Constructions

Tomás Saraceno (b. 1973) currently holds the world record for the first and longest fully solar-powered manned flight. Having spent his career amassing a portfolio of research informed by art and architecture as well as astrophysics, engineering and natural sciences, the Argentinian artist now creates multidisciplinary works which investigate sustainable ways of inhabiting, navigating and perceiving the environment. Inspired by such organic phenomena as the structure of a spider’s web, the resulting installations are simultaneously precise, scientific explorations and interactive, modular landscapes of expression. Collaborating with biologists and structural engineers has allowed the development of innovative constructions which respond to societal, ecological and global challenges, acting as models for a future utopia.

Aerosolar Journeys is the most recent example, now open at the Museum Haus Konstruktiv, Zurich. Featuring prominent works from the community project Aerocene, enormous air-filled sculptures which rely only on solar and infrared radiation become buoyant, eliminating the reliance for fossil fuels. These immense objects, capable of flying around the world solely on thermal lift, address issues such as pollution as well as promoting social and mental ecologies. Adopting a communal approach to creation, the project relies on individual acts which, brought together, nurture and encourage a symbiotic relationship with the earth. Cooperation is critical and serves to further highlight the importance of geopolitical relations and universal belonging. Highly relevant in the wake of the current energy crisis, Aerocene has expanded to actively seek long-term solutions to contemporary living.

The exhibition also features Arachno Concert, which utilises the vibrations of a spider to create an immersive piece that incorporates sonorous and kinetic elements. The open cubic frame, in which the spider is placed, is connected to a microphone, enabling its movements to be translated into sound. Additionally, cameras are used to detect motion in the room which, in turn, affect the air-currents, dust-trails and the produced silk.

Saraceno has long been interested in the natural and scientific beauty of spiders and has, together with a diverse community of scientists, accumulated over a decade’s worth of research into arachnids. With the support of specialists, the artist has fabricated frames in his studio which collectively house around 300 specimens and allow free movement, therefore enabling the close observation of hybrid web formations. These conceptually spontaneous and ultimately natural designs are evocative of modern cityscapes which combine controlled and fluctuating visions, and encompass influence from the wider, progressive environment

Aerosolar Journeys runs until 3 September at the Museum Haus Konstruktiv, Zurich. Find out more: www.hauskonstruktiv.ch.

1. Tomás Saraceno, Eclipse of Aerocene Explorer, 2016, Performance Salar de Uyuni, Bolivien. Foto: Studio Tomás Saraceno, 2016.