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Monday, September 3, 2012

Tomás Saraceno on the Roof: Cloud City

Tomás Saraceno on the Roof: Cloud City—part of Saraceno’s series Cloud Cities/Air Port City is a site-specific installation of 16 interconnected multipolygonal modules on the roof garden of the Metropolitan Museum. Composed of transparent, opaque and reflective materials connected by an internal network of staircases, the piece provides a funhouse experience where orientation is skewed. Discombobulation and vertigo flood one’s senses as one explores the interior space and tries to figure out what is reality and what is reflection. Taking in the exterior vistas framed through Cloud City’s apertures, it's clear that as with Big Bambu, New York City's an integral part of the piece.

On entering the structure the guards made me put away my pad and pen, which I thought silly, but soon realized I needed to grasp both handrails as I crawled, white-knuckled up the stairs. Though the piece goes up only 20 feet from the Met’s roof, one feels much higher seeing the city and park below. Some of the floors of the modules are clear adding to the knee-buckling experience. My companion said being in it felt like skydiving, which she has actually done. To me, it felt like I was inside an enormous kaleidoscope or even some giant honeycomb made by robotic bees. According to Saraceno: “Cloud City’s composition is based on a complex three-dimensional geometry from Weaire-Phelan, which is an idealized foam structure resembling the perfect packaging of spheres with a minimal surface and maximum volume."

Saraceno trained as an architect (he also attended the Space Studies Program of the International Space University at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California and judging from his writings about the piece is pretty out there) and there is a definite habitat feel to the piece. According to the Met’s wall dialectic this is intentional: “Over the past decade Saraceno has constructed habitable networks based on organic forms, naturally occurring geometries, and interconnectivity that merge art, architecture, and science. His multidisciplinary project Cloud Cities/Air Port City is rooted in an investigation of how to expand the ways in which we inhabit and experience our environment…Saraceno uses his art to envision floating or flying cities that defy traditional notions of space, time, and gravity. He challenges the boundaries of earthbound living and explores the possibility of utopian airborne habitation, looking to the atmosphere, rather than terra firma, for inspiration.”

All I can say is it's an exhilarating experience to be high above the streets of Manhattan in the ethereal Cloud City.  

1 comment:

  1. Woah! What a good place to go over the weekends or even on a romantic night. I never thought such a place existed in Manhattan ‘til I saw your post. Thank you for sharing this and letting us know! I am always fascinated by museums or gardens up on roofs or pent houses because it just gives a different feeling to me. The ambience is light and it’s enticing to look around. I will definitely check this one soon. A heap of thanks and good day!

    Son Lakhani