Tomás Saraceno

Inflatable and airborne biospheres that expand our thermodynamic imagination

As a CAST Visiting Artist, Saraceno has drawn from a vast array of expertise in departments across the Institute and developed collaborative projects with the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences. His ongoing residency has focused on advancing new work for the ongoing Cloud Cities, Hybrid Webs and Aerocene series.

Saraceno’s investigation of the intricate geometry of spiderwebs aligned with research by Markus Buehler, Professor and Head, MIT Civil and Environmental Engineering, on the complex, hierarchal structure of spider silk and its amazing strength. Saraceno developed an original tomographic method, using a laser sheet, to scan a three-dimensional web and make accurate three-dimensional data of the web. Buehler’s lab created a computer simulation of the data set generated by this project to reveal how the strands behave and interact in the physical web. Subsequently, Saraceno and Buehler developed new mechanisms for tracking spiders, scanning webs and generating computer models.

Additionally, Saraceno has participated in numerous public programs and symposia including the 2014 CAST Symposium “Seeing / Sounding / Sensing.” Saraceno’s 2012 project was the stimulus for “Sensing,” the symposium’s discussion on current understandings in neuroscience about the human capacity for joint action and bodily awareness.

An artist trained as an architect, Tomás Saraceno deploys insights from engineering, physics, chemistry, aeronautics and materials science in his work. He creates inflatable and airborne biospheres with the morphology of soap bubbles, spider webs, neural networks or cloud formations, which are speculative models for alternate ways of living for a sustainable future.

On Space Time Foam is a multi-layered installation of plastic membranes suspended 24 meters above the ground. Each level has a different air pressure and reacts to the movement of visitors in each layer, creating an extraordinary interactive experience for its inhabitants and pushing the limitations of physics through experimentation with new materials and techniques.

Saraceno envisions floating cloud-like cities that people might inhabit in the future, which launched his investigation of going “aerosolar” with zero-emission lighter-than-air structures and a collaboration with MIT EAPS meteorologist Lodovica Illari. In 2015 Illari began collaborating with Saraceno on “Aerocene,” a project to draw attention to the environmental impacts of air pollution and carbon emissions by developing inflatable technology for air transportation using atmospheric physics principles that rely on infrared/solar radiation from the Sun during the day and the Earth at night. Illari, Professor Glenn Flierl and researcher Bill McKenna generate visualizations of potential flight trajectories around the Earth and the best places and seasons for launches using historical atmospheric data and factors including temperature, pressure, wind strength and direction, and cloud cover. As part of this ongoing collaboration, Illari and Flierl have developed simulated flight patterns under real-world conditions and visualizations that allow the public to think about “Aerocene” in relation to climate science.

Artist’s Website

Presented by the MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology (CAST)

Past Events

Active Matter Summit: Active Architectures Panel
“Material Environments” Tomás Saraceno

Saturday, April 25, 2015 / 3:15 – 4:45 pm
Bartos Theater, E15-070
20 Ames Street, Cambridge, MA

 

Panel: “Moving Beyond Materiality” with Tomás Saraceno, Nader Tehrani, NADAAA and Antón García-Abril, Ensamble Studio
Thursday, November 15 / 6:30 pm

 

Reverberations: A Conversation between Visiting Artist Tomás Saraceno and Markus Buehler, Professor and Head, Civil and Environmental Engineering, MIT
Moderated by John Ochsendorf, Class of 1942 Professor of Architecture and Civil and Environmental Engineering, MIT

Thursday, September 25, 2014 / 7:00 pm
MIT Museum, N51
265 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge MA

MIT Professor Markus Buehler and CAST Visiting Artist Tomás Saraceno discuss their research about materials and structures inspired by the intricate geometry of spiderwebs. Saraceno’s 2010 installation, 14 Billions (Working Title), based on the only fully digitally captured three-dimensional spider web in the world, scaled-up and reconstructed the web 16 times its original size. Buehler’s lab has created a computer simulated model of the data set generated by this project to reveal how the strands behave and interact in the web as a physical structure.

In this panel, Buehler will discuss the molecular structure of the proteins in spider’s silk and how art and engineering can function as mutually beneficial modes of discovery, as discussed in his recent book Biomateriomics, which emphasizes the universality of hierarchical structures in disparate systems as a mechanism to create tailored functions. Saraceno will envision a collaborative installation that would use a three-dimensional spiderweb as a musical instrument to embody the incredible structural properties of spiders’ silk.

 

Panel: “Sensing – Actions”
Discussion as part of CAST symposium “Seeing / Sounding / Sensing”
September 27, 2014 / 2:00 – 5:00pm
Media Lab E14-674 (6th Floor)
75 Amherst St, Cambridge MA

 

Class Visit
April 2015
Civil & Environmental Engineering Design, 1.013
Active Architectures, 4.022

Class Visit
October 2012
Nano-Machines, 4.112
The Art/Science Thing, 4.S62

Exploratory Research
October 2012
History + Theory of Architecture and Art
School of Architecture + PlanningVisit to Science, Technology, and Society
School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
Program in Atmospheres, Oceans and Climates Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences
Building Technology Group
Horvitz Laboratory Department of Biology

During his residency at MIT, Saraceno has met with over twenty scientists, architects and engineers across the Institute for conversations about biomimicry, cosmology, atmosphere and flight. Saraceno is currently collaborating with Professor Markus Buehler, head of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and postdoctoral associate Zhao Qin to investigate the structural properties of spider webs. Using the data set generated from Saraceno’s previous work in modeling 3-D spider webs, the lab will 3-D print the web and run simulations to determine the strength and flexibility of the individual strands and of the web as a whole.

Lodovica Illari, Senior Lecturer, Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences

Glenn R. Flierl, Professor of Oceanography, Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences

Antón García-Abril, Professor of Architecture at MIT and founder of ENSAMBLE STUDIO, a firm committed to architectural application of conceptual and structural experimentation

Nader Tehrani, Professor and Department Head of the MIT Department of Architecture, and Principal and Founder of NADAAA, an architectural practice dedicated to the advancement of design innovation and interdisciplinary collaboration 

Dörthe M. Eisele, Postdoctoral Associate in the MIT Center for Excitonics 

Jerome I. Friedman, Institute Professor, Emeritus, and Nobel Laureate, Physics 

Elizabeth Goldring, Fellow (2008-2012) in the MIT Center for Advanced Visual Studies 

Jeffrey Grossman is the Carl Richard Soderberg Associate Professor of Power Engineering in the Departments of Materials Science and Engineering and Mechanical Engineering 

R. John Hansman, T. Wilson Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Director of the MIT International Center for Air Transportation 

Lodovica Illari, Senior Lecturer in Synoptic Meteorology in the MIT Program in Atmospheres, Oceans and Climates 

Robert Jaffe, Jane and Otto Morningstar Professor of Physics 

Caroline Jones, Professor of the History of Art in the MIT Department of Architecture

Les Norford, Professor and Associate Head of the MIT Department of Architecture

Otto Piene, Professor Emeritus in the MIT Department of Architecture

Skylar Tibbits, Director, Self-Assembly Lab and Research Scientist, MIT Department of Architecture 

J. Meejin Yoon, Professor of Architecture and Department Head of the MIT Department of Architecture Undergraduate Program

Brian Wardle, Associate Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Director of the Necstlab and Nano-Engineered Composite Aerospace Structures Consortium 

Rosalind Williams, Bern Dibner Professor of the History of Science and Technology in the MIT Program in Science, Technology and Society

The Art Newspaper: Tomás Saraceno’s Project Takes Flight at Davos

Campus News: “Aerocene” Soars At The 47th World Economic Forum

Télam:  Saraceno: La influencia del mundo del arte es mínima

New York Times:  Art & Design At M.I.T., Science Embraces a New Chaos Theory: Art

Art Asia Pacific: Arachnid Orchestra. Jam Sessions

The Creators Project: Tomas Saraceno’s Arachnid Orchestra Weaves Terrifying Arrangements

Studio 360: Caught in Tomas Saraceno’s Web

Designboom: tomàs saraceno’s ‘on space time foam’: a billowing aerial landscape

Artfix Daily: Tomás Saraceno is Inaugural Visiting Artist in newly established MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology

Huffington Post: Tomás Saraceno’s Adult Playground ‘On Space Time Foam’ Is An Enormous Suspended Trampoline (PHOTOS)

Vogue Italia: Tomas Saraceno

Architectural Digest, Daily AD: Tomás Saraceno’s New Archtectural Sculptures are on view at Tanya Bonakdar

SciArt in America: Art for the Age of the Anthropocene

Wired: Milan Art Installation Has Visitors Walking on Air

The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Tomás Saraceno on the Roof: Cloud City

Huffington Post: ‘On Space Time Foam’ Is An Enormous Suspended Trampoline

Architectural Digest, AD Innovator: Tomás Saraceno

Arch Daily: In Orbit Installation / Tomas Saraceno

 

 

Tomás Saraceno, Biosphere MW32/Flying Garden/Air-Port-City, 2007. Courtesy: Tomás Saraceno. Credit: Rokma.
Tomás Saraceno, Biosphere MW32/Flying Garden/Air-Port-City, 2007. Courtesy: Tomás Saraceno. Credit: Rokma.

More about the Residency

Selected Past Projects