Tomás Saraceno

Labor Tómas Saraceno, Photo: Achim Kukulies, © Tomás Saraceno

September 16, 2011 - December 2012

The "realizable utopias" of Tomás Saraceno defy common conceptions of space, time, and gravity. A glimpse into his world of thoughts and the complex process involved in creating the artwork for the exhibition in orbit at K21 in 2013 can be seen in the education space, Labor.

For many years, Tomás Saraceno's art has revolved around the creation of so-called cloud cities. Like clouds, these floating cells are constantly changing their shape, suggesting alternative sustainable living environments that go beyond territorial constraints. Tomás Saraceno uses multidisciplinary methods to shine a light on new ways of organizing our lives. His works invite us to interact with them and to explore new forms of communication, behavior, and perception.

Tomás Saraceno mostly relies on natural phenomena, like the structure of soap bubbles, as models for his floating cloud cities of bubble-like cells. Each soap bubble is lightweight and can stand on its own or is able to connect to an infinite number of other bubbles. A soap bubble traps the maximum volume of air with a minimal surface area. When two soap bubbles of equal size merge, they also take on the shape with the smallest surface area. The best geometrical representation of this is two polyhedrons combined (a tetrakaidecahedron and an irregular dodecahedron), otherwise known as the so called Weaire-Phelan structure.

Tomás Saraceno's installation in orbit will be a kind of walk-in web spanning the atrium of the K21. Inspired by his fascination with the extreme resilience of spider webs, Saraceno created models of the Ständehaus to observe various species of spiders constructing their stunning webs in the miniature architecture. Saraceno is especially fascinated by the masterful achievements of tent-web, cobweb, and sheet weaver spiders, who are known for their elaborate three-dimensional webs.

Tomás Saraceno originally studied architecture and prefers to work in teams. By collaborating with experts such as arachnologists, astrophysicist, social scientists, and engineers, he is able to develop new approaches for realizing his projects. His Labor project is also based on the principle of interaction and team work: Visitors are invited to build their own cloud modules and attach these to already existing structures. Over the course of the exhibition, visitors have a direct influence on the cloud city as it continues to evolve.