“Even the weather today is like a clouded city,” Tomás Saraceno muses at the opening of his new installation on the roof of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. “We might not like all the shapes and forms all the time when it rains, but I’m happy.” The widely exhibited artist from Argentina—who prefers to say, "from planet Earth"—was beaming on Monday despite the unveiling’s cloudy reception, the sun managing to peak through in his pride as inventor with his invention, like light bulbs and Thomas Edison. Named for its effect, Cloud City invites the brave and the heel-less (sorry ladies, no high Choo’s) to step through a site-specific work that fuses art, architecture, and science. Interconnected modules of steel, mirror, and nylon create a suspended habitat, sprouting above like cumulous and spelunking below like a deep space mission. With a spider’s eye, visitors can see all over; on top of the MET, lush parks, blue skies, and brand new faces come into view simultaneously.
On the occasion of its launch, we speak to the artist about what he thinks of Cloud City’s first landing.
What inspired you to build a city in the clouds?
I was looking forward to this very moment, seeing people in it. Over there (pointing to the sky) the terrace has never had so many people. I’m continually inspired by it because [Cloud City] isn’t static. The inspiration happens again and again.
How is it regenerative?
This project is a formed geometry of how different spheres, political and sociological, might come together. Usually, we walk through space being aware of only one line of the horizon; we have the separate coordinates of up and down, left and right. But, what would happen if we had flying cities? We would become weightless, floating in space. We could then embrace more than just one reality at the same time. It’s an exercise in communication and enlarging the way we relate to things.
I became a bit disoriented when I first stepped in. But after relatively getting my cloud legs, I helped a less adventurous visitor over to the floating precipice, an image of two children teaching each other how to stand. Is the experience meant to be social?
We can rethink how we relate while we experience walking through the piece, and maybe this might reverberate to other experiences in every day life.
What do you hope people walk away with?
The most important thing is that every single person has their own experience. My mother, for example, studied Biology and she sees it as molecules and creatures. For others, it’s an international space station, and I love that. What background do you have?
Art history, so I see it more through a cubist lens, however refracted, materializing into some sort of futurist environment.
I love that. I love that people inhabit it with their own background and rethink their own universe in relationship to other things.
What’s been your experience within it?
I’m still curious about it because it’s still expanding. I’m looking forward to seeing how other people move. I’m myself still looking.
Tomás Saraceno’s Cloud City
May 15-November 4, 2012 (weather permitting)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 Fifth Avenue (at 82nd Street), New York, NY