At Pass the Crayon we have been exploring the theme of Space in our recent art workshops, so it seems fitting to kick off our new 'Artist of the Week' series with astro enthusiast and visionary artist, Tomás Saraceno.
In recent years we have seen Art and Science come together to create unique avenues of creative expression. Both of these disciplines challenge our perception of reality in profound ways, and when combined, can produce astonishing art forms which are not only aesthetically striking, but experientially significant.
For millennia, artists have grappled with the existential chaos of human existence. Art provides human beings with the tools to express feelings and abstract concepts which can be deeply painful, yet essential to understanding ourselves as individuals, and as a collective. In the past, artists have mainly focused on human-centered enigmas such as beauty, pleasure, pain, time, and of course, love and death. However, since the Enlightenment period, Science has become the new idea-source, with Space representing the ultimate mystery.
Space exploration has long been an area reserved exclusively for the military and scientists, but, with the advent of digital technology, scientific data can now be transformed into artistic material, and simultaneously, Art can help scientists innovate solutions and change perceptions.
An artist that typifies this inspiring fusion of Art and Science is Tomás Saraceno, a Chilean-born contemporary artist, who enhances and explores scientific phenomena through large-scale, interactive installations and sculptures. Saraceno creates unique visual and sensory experiences which are not only beautiful, but serve an important function: to inspire, to bring hope, to change the world.
Saraceno has many interests including Architecture, Arachnology, Space and Ecology, and frequently combines these distinct areas to create astonishing works of art. Arachnology has been a long-term passion for Saraceno (he keeps over a hundred spiders at his studio in Berlin!), and spider-webs feature prominently in his Art, such as How to Entangle the Universe in a Spider Web, Arachnid Orchestra Jam Sessions and Galaxies Forming Along Filaments.
The study of spider behavioral patterns, particularly their socially cohesive attitude towards web-building is a source of inspiration for Saraceno, and gave rise (literally!) to his dream project: Cloud Cities- a vision of the future where there are no borders separating us, and human beings live in floating eco-cities, suspended in the sky via natural solar heat.
Saraceno's spider webs provide a useful analogy for abstract scientific theory, such as neuronal networking in the brain, the Internet and... the Universe. In his exhibition Cosmic Dust, Saraceno creates a spider web universe of intricate strands woven together and suspended across a room, collecting cosmic dust (space dust) which hovers and swirls in the air around, disturbed by the movements of the spiders at work, which are then amplified through speakers, creating a loop of continuous motion and sonic vibration. The interweaving spider webs, and the movement of dust allow Saraceno to illustrate the 'cosmic web'- a universe as a set of discrete galaxies that are joined together by gravity.
"A piece of space falls on your ear every day… Forty thousand tons of cosmic dust reach the Earth yearly… what we inhale… stardust if you will… reverberation… A cube of… black matter… dark energy… cosmic web… Look inside that space dust… Space is mostly space but is it not empty…" - Tomás Saraceno, Cosmic Dust Dust
One of Saraceno's most visually stunning and deceptively simple works of Art (and my personal fave!) is Poetic Cosmos of the Breath. When I first saw this piece, I thought it was some sort of Aurora Borealis projection, but on closer research, this beautiful piece of Art was nothing more than a large expanse of foil, weighted down by sandbags and lifted off the ground by natural thermal heat. Staged at dawn, the light refracts off the surface of the foil creating a myriad of colours, rather like the rainbows created when petrol mixes with water. Poetic Cosmos of the Breath is a perfect example of how Saraceno can transform natural processes into artistic spectacles which allow people to see the beauty in things which they may have never noticed before.
"This is why I work with artists – this is a serious, magical, unique, positive experience. This is invigoration for the Green movement, for the Climate Change lobby, for the scientists pouring over statistics and charts. Thanks to Saraceno and to Arts Catalyst we who were there will remember this morning for the rest of our lives.” - Michaela Crimmin’s, Royal Society of Art
** Thank you for reading this post. Don't forget to 'like' and share on social media, and join us next week for our second installment of Artist of the Week :) **