Tomás Saraceno, an artist originally from Argentina and currently based in Berlin, engages in projects that involve conversations with non-human life forms. His work reexamines commonly accepted knowledge within the context of capitalism, emphasizing the interconnected web of life that links all living and non-living entities on Earth. Due to his impactful contributions, Saraceno has earned the title of the artist "most likely to change the world."

Saraceno's projects often emphasize environmental awareness and the interconnectedness of all living and non-living entities. By creating immersive installations that engage viewers with the natural world, he fosters a deeper understanding of the ecological challenges that are faced, encouraging a sense of responsibility and urgency in reflecting on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for  Climate Action.

Museo Aero Solar by Tomás Saraceno. Image courtesy of The Aerocene Foundation.

His most pragmatic work to date might just be an initiative dubbed the Aerocene Foundation that was officially launched at the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference in Paris. For instance, started in 2007, Museo Aero Solar is a global open-source endeavour that facilitates the creation of aero-solar sculptures. The initiative equips individuals with toolkits to create magnificent floating spheres that operate using aero-solar technology fueled by air and sun. The produced air balloons educate the public that alternate eco-friendly methods exist when it comes to air travel. When paired with continued research and proliferation, Saraceno believes that aero-solar technology, something that existed in the past as hot air balloons, might yet again be a viable option that takes the world one step closer to being fossil fuel-free.

How Aerocene works by Tomás Saraceno. Image courtesy of The Aerocene Foundation.

But Saraceno’s works aren’t just known for their pragmatism; they are also known for their grand scale, which incites within viewers a sense of wonder. His piece, Webs of At-tent(s)ion encapsulates this sentiment perfectly.

In essence, Webs of At-tent(s)ion are multiple spider webs growing together in aquariums. The sheer size of them, combined with dramatic lighting, creates an out-of-this-world experience that allows the viewers to focus on cobwebs that would have otherwise been quite literally swept under the rug.

This artwork also amplifies the cobwebs with microphones, meaning viewers can listen to the spider’s personal lives. According to Saraceno, the purpose of this act is to "attune to nonhuman voices that join with our own in endless webs of connectivity. The installation, thus, challenges the idea of a hierarchical tree of life and proposes hybridities between and among species and worlds.”

Webs of At-tent(s)ion by Tomás Saraceno. Image courtesy of the artist.

In a piece titled On the Disappearance of Clouds, the interconnection of webs and the pragmatism of The Aerocene Foundation came together in an equally spectacular display of nature’s grandeur at the 2019 Venice Biennale. The piece was a set of aero-solar-powered sculptures that take the form of carbon at the molecular level. They float in the air while being tethered by wires in a web-like formation, oscillating throughout the day as they mirror the rhythm of sea tides. The sculptures’ movement, according to Saraceno, highlights the rising sea levels and performs “an elemental choreography where carbon clouds become readable and global warming becomes audible."

Air and sun keep the sculptures afloat, while rising sea levels, exacerbated by the moon’s gravitational pull, sway and move the sculpture in a harmonious choreography. On the Disappearance of Clouds gives its viewers an understanding of the reciprocal and delicate alliance between elements in nature, all while its title, per Saraceno, reminds people that the rise of carbon dioxide and other atmospheric pollutants is making pure water clouds disappear. The clouds seen today contain pollutants that will be dispersed by the rain to further disrupt the planet’s balance.

These are just a few of Saraceno’s works that inject within their viewers a climate consciousness, all with the hope that they will be propelled to take direct action to help counter climate change and keep the delicate balance of the planet.

On the Disappearance of Clouds (2019) by Tomás Saraceno. Image courtesy of the artist.

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