Better living on things that float

by October 22, 2010

"Galaxies Forming Along Filaments, Like Droplets Along the Strands of a Spider's Web", by Tomas Saraceno (2009)

At first glance his works appear to be related in some way to clouds, soap bubbles, or even a micro-slice of the human brain in all of its neuron-synapse complexity. To design the work shown at left, which was exhibited at 2009’s Venice Art Biennale, Argentinian-born artist Tomas Saraceno worked with both astrophysicists and spider researchers to understand the similarities of structures as different in scale as galactic clusters and spider webs. As Berkeley Art Museum curator Elizabeth Thomas writes in a profile of Saraceno on the core.form-ula site, the artist’s approach is physical, high-tech, and at the same time utopian:

Saraceno’s work transcends quixotic ambition by applying practical principles from engineering, physics, chemistry, aeronautics, and architecture to experiment and model logistical solutions for airborne habitation. In periodic collaboration with the Buckminster Fuller Virtual Institute he has realized the largest solar-powered geodesic balloon ever built. He has also worked with a new material called Aerogel, a sponge-like insulating substance developed for use in the aerospace industry. Its incredibly light weight (only three times that of air itself), coupled with its strong structural properties, affords a host of possibilities for future construction and engineering of airborne vehicles.

Like visionary architects of the past (Buckminster Fuller and Archigram, among others), Saraceno intends to reshape social space and human behavior as much as physical space through his futuristic speculation.

Stunning pictures of more of Saraceno’s work — from ethereal forest globes to massive iridescent sheets — can be viewed at the Tanya Bonakdar Gallery here, and he will have a solo exhibition at the same gallery between November 4 and December 18, 2010.