Argentine environmental artist Tomás Saraceno has recently unveiled his latest venture at Moscow’s Garage Museum of Contemporary Art. On view and remaining until February 14, 2021, the installation entitled Moving Atmospheres, is a partially mirrored sphere suspended midair in the museum’s atrium, made from ETFE.
Creating a prototype “for self-sustaining flight powered solely by the air and sun, using transparent polymer and light-reflecting foil to regulate its internal temperature”, Tomás Saraceno has imagined a product in line with his lighter than air movement and utopian modes of co-existing, named the “Aerocene”. Part of the tenth Garage Atrium Commission, curated by Iaroslav Volovod, the project tackles a new age of carbon-free, non-exploitative modes of coexistence within the Earth’s atmosphere. Not his first model of the sort, Moving Atmospheres is nevertheless the first to be constructed from ETFE, an extremely durable translucent polymer.
Considered as Saraceno’s biggest installation to date in Russia, Moving Atmospheres “resonates with the 19th and 20th-century Russian cosmists who suggested that people, buildings, and entire cities should ascend to the skies”. In fact, the artist explains that “an aero solar sculpture is not meant to remove you from Earth so that you can live in some unsullied environment above the clouds.”
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The future is in the air!! As we float at the bottom of the ocean of air, we move into the Aerocene, an era that resists the gravity of today by keeping the temperature of the air-stable so all passengers may stay aboard this journey!! As you know we need to find alternative ways to move within the planetary boundaries and out of the colonialist, extractivist, and patriarchal practices that keep fueling our economies, and find alternative social, environmental, and mental ecologies of practice among all of us…to open up our thermodynamic imaginations, to float within an envelope of sun-heated air, to move with the wind…towards a movement of other orbits of interaction to keep us all together on this journey aboard this flying earth!! -- Tomás Saraceno
The modeled version of a bigger structure, also made of ETFE, proven to sustain long-distance flights, while floating at altitudes between 20 km and 40 km, Moving Atmospheres seeks to propel us toward an Aerocene epoch. Building on scientific experiments that began by the French Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES), these structures are made of two different lightweight materials: transparent and mirror foils. The mirror part of these sculptures reflects part of the sun’s radiation, while the transparent half helps to maintain the temperature inside the envelope during the night. A crucial next step in the development of aero solar flights, Saraceno’s project “proposes an alternative that enables us to attune to the air, its movements and the role we each have as co-creators of the atmosphere”.