Rethinking Environmental Sensing with Aerocene

Investigation work | 10 September, 2019, 5:23-19:45 GMT
Olympiapark, Munich, Germany 
48°10'14.4"N 11°33'15.9"W
Airborne sculptures | Plastic film,  GPS tracker

Aerocene is a series of experiments launched by Argentinian artist Tomás Saraceno. With airborne sculptures, these experiments aim to explore the possibility of environmental sensing. Mobile structures made of black plastic membrane, like a bloom. It applies atmospheric physics principles that rely on solar radiation from the sun during the day, and infrared from the surface of the Earth at night. Its inflatable technology with zero carbon emission for air transportation allows the sculptures to be navigated solely by atmospheric currents.

The balloon-like sculpture which is as light as air, and is surrounded by air. Essentially, the structure itself could be viewed as just another type of air driven by atmospheric currents. But the thin film on the structure’s surface turns the air into a tangible object, therefore it may require a permission for crossing the border. After reporting to the air traffic control between countries, the floating structure (83AQI) was free from borders. It launched from Munich, Germany, on 10 September 2019 at 5:23, flew 247.9 miles and came back down to the Earth on the same day, in the evening near Sloupnice, the Czech Republic, at 19:45.

As with the film on the surface of the sculpture makes a clear air division but allows solar radiation to infiltrate, the concept of division can also be regarded as political affairs. Demarcations such as border (geopolitical boundaries) and airspace (a portion of the atmosphere controlled by a country above its territory). To cross these boundaries requires a hierarchical authorisation. They are human made subdivisions over the natural environment, open and close to a certain condition.

Here, the boundaries whether visible or invisible, they stand at the intersection of connection-division, and block-osmosis. Due to this indefinite boundary shift, we are potentially displacing the localities between ‘over here’ and ‘over there’, reverse ‘inside’ and ‘outside’.