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Tomás Saraceno: Notes on a Possible Future

Courtesy Tomás Saraceno

The artist’s Aerocene Pacha project for CONNECT, BTS

  • On 22 January 2020 the artist Tomás Saraceno officially launched Fly with 
  • Moreover, the work represents the notion that art as a discipline is intricately connected to those traditionally considered discrete: science, mathematics, engineering, ecology and sustainability, to name a few. After studying architecture in Argentina, Saraceno relocated to Germany, where he began working with the art department of Frankfurt’s Städelschule. He has since studied at NASA’s Ames Research Centre, in Mountain View, California (2009), has been a visiting artist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology since 2012, has completed a residency at the Centre National d’Études Spatiales in Paris during 2014–15 and has collaborated with Germany’s Max Planck Institute and the Natural History Museum in London. Perhaps more importantly, at a time when others vociferously doubt it, the Aerocene project speaks to the idea that art can have an identifiable use-value too. One that goes beyond its current generally accepted function as a subsection of the tourism and leisure industries, or as a vehicle through which to circulate, generate and protect wealth and the status commonly associated with that. Though that’s not to say that leisure – in the sense of ‘fun’ – is not a part of it.

‘When the Montgolfier brothers’ hot air balloon lifted a human into the air for the first time, in 1783, they used fire to lift into the sky. When the Wright brothers flew the first airplane at Kitty Hawk in 1903, they used gasoline engines to power the propellers. When the Apollo XI rocket flew to the moon in 1969, it burned kerosene, in one of the most dramatic displays of fossil fuel the world has ever seen. Now, for the first time in human history, we have flown a person into the air using only the power of the sun and the air – free of fossil fuels, solar panels, batteries or helium. We fly against the colonialist, extractivist and patriarchal practices that keep fuelling our economies, floating towards alternative social, environmental and mental ecologies of practice. As we float at the bottom of the ocean of air aboard this flying earth, we move into Aerocene, an era that resists the gravity of today by keeping the temperature of the air stable so all may stay aboard this journey!’ Tomás Saraceno

  • In November 1919 H.G. Wells began publication of his illustrated
  • In 1979 Kenneth Gatland and David Jefferis published
  • Pacha is an Incan concept relating to the division of the different spheres of the unified cosmos. The pachas were used to designate realms that are both spatial and temporal, and incorporate the Yanantin dualism, in which opposites are interdependent, that characterises many indigenous Andean philosophies. For Saraceno this translates to the slogan ‘We are flying with our head in the clouds but our feet on the ground’.
  • In keeping with the themes of nonviolence and community, Saraceno describes the 

‘Humans have always dreamed of flying, but that dream has become a nightmare. So what if we changed habits, not the climate? We were able to fly differently with Aerocene Pacha because of the collaboration between numerous communities connected by a shared goal, and the momentum continues. With these communities we thought to organise a ‘Festival of Air’, where we fly differently, both at the event and as we come together for it. In this way the very act of arriving becomes the movement of change, and a gesture towards an Aerocene era.’ Tomás Saraceno

The Aerocene project is open-source and collaborative

CONNECT, BTS is a global initiative developed in collaboration with curators from five major cities – London, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Seoul and New York. The ultimate goal of the project is to connect individuals across the world as they reevaluate their present circumstances, attitudes and potentialities. CONNECT, BTS draws motifs from parts of BTS’s philosophy that centres around diversity, and love and care for the periphery. By connecting with 22 contemporary artists, BTS is creating the opportunity for a fruitful and democratic cross-pollination between the worlds of rarefied visual art and pop music. This project adds support for contemporary art to their practice, setting ground for great new synergies.

All images apart from the illustrations are courtesy Tomás Saraceno

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