Louise Franklin, August 20, 2013
Artist Tomas Saraceno – known for his gravity-defying installation pieces – has built a flying sculpture, drawing on the tradition of giant kites, and created to function as a hovering observation tower.
As the port of Rotterdam has gone through a period of expansion, a series of artists have been invited to contribute pieces that comment on the ongoing process of construction. The latest iteration is Tomas Saraceno’s Solar Bell, a huge, gravity-defying structure, designed with ecological and artistic concerns equally in mind.
Solar Bell is part of Saraceno’s ongoing initiative Cloud City, which focuses on the use of renewable energy and ecology, and investigates the idea of a real-life city in the air.
“With the ability to float, the traditional boundaries will be crossed between earth and space, between art, architecture and science,” says Saraceno, of his work.
Aside from his own artistic agenda, Solar Bell evokes a piece of history by referring to Alexander Graham Bell’s early experiments with flight – specifically paying homage to an early model of a four-sided pyramid.
By collaborating with the Aerospace Engineering Facility in The Netherlands, Saraceno was able to use super-lightweight materials alongside solar panels, meaning Solar Bell relies only on wind power, solar power, and its own lack of weight to float through the sky.
Solar Bell flights will be taking place at the FutureLand information centre at Maasvlakte 2 until the end of August, and more details can be seen here.