A Manifesto for the Future: Thermodynamic Constellation

by Arturo Galansino

Even though the Tomás Saraceno. Aria exhibition has been closed for some days now, you can still visit the Palazzo Strozzi courtyard, an area that has become in recent years a fully-fledged public space, a piazza in the heart of Florence currently hosting a major installtion that Tomás Saraceno designed and produced expressly for Palazzo Strozzi, entitled Thermodynamic Constellation.

 

Tomás Saraceno, Thermodynamic Constellation, 2020. Installation view of Aria, Palazzo Strozzi, Florence, 2020. © Photography by Studio Tomás Saraceno

 

Thermodynamic Constellation is a manifesto for the future, possibly even more so today for people seeing it through Palazzo Strozzi’s open doors or in the countless images of it that are circulating in the social media. The spheres of which the installation is comprised, interconnected with one another in a state of mutual tension, are prototypes of real aerosolar balloons capable of floating in the atmosphere without the use of fossil fuels. The upper, mirror part reflects the sun’s radiation, thus preventing overheating during flight in daylight hours, while the lower, transparent part helps to keep the temperature inside the capsule stable during night flight by absorbing the heat of the planet that provides the aerostatic thrust. The work is not based only on artistic research but also on a scientific study of the materials and laws of physics that should govern this kind of dance of the spheres in the air. In 2014 and 2015 Tomás Saraceno was the resident artist at the Centre National d’Études Spatiales (National Centre for Space Studies – CNES) in France, where he had a chance to explore the characteristics and qualities of specific materials used in the aerospace industry.

 

Tomás Saraceno, Thermodynamic Constellation, 2020. Installation view of Aria, Palazzo Strozzi, Florence, 2020. © Photography by Ela Bialkowska, OKNOstudio

 

The installation combines a profound ethical message with an enthralling experience. Tomás Saraceno’s ability to master space has led to the creation of an artwork that interprets Palazzo Strozzi’s architecture in an intriguing manner, dialoguing with one of the loftiest examples of Renaissance culture. This, because the mirror part of the spheres not only forges a sense of community by reflecting our own image, it also allows us to observe the palazzo‘s symmetrical 15th century architecture with new eyes, to see it distorted in a Baroque anamorphosis that changes as the hours of the day go by. So today too, from a distance, the spheres can be a space for conceptual collective participation in which visions and physicality forge a powerful bond.

 

Tomás Saraceno, Thermodynamic Constellation, 2020. Installation view of Aria, Palazzo Strozzi, Florence, 2020. © Photography by Ela Bialkowska, OKNOstudio

 

The flying sculptures that make up Thermodynamic Constellation explore the kind of socio-political structures that might come into being if only we could freely surf the rivers of the atmosphere in a new era of harmony with the air and with the atmosphere: the Aerocene. Tomás Saraceno has launched a vision of Homo Flotans, a new generation of man as nomad of the air on the same wavelength as the rhythm of the planets and the atmosphere, allowing himself to be both conceptually and physically guided by the air.

This artwork, in which everything fluctuates and is reflected, urging us to move in a new way, is a port open to the sky. In forging a link with the problems of our contemporary world, of which the current emergencies are both a symptom and a consequence, Thermodynamic Constellation embodies a proposal, or a challenge, for a different future.

 

Tomás Saraceno, Thermodynamic Constellation, 2020. Installation view of Aria, Palazzo Strozzi, Florence, 2020. © Photography by Studio Tomás Saraceno