PRINT March 2005


Tomas Saraceno

Berlin-based artist Tomas Saraceno is currently working on a site-specific project for the Villa Manin Centre for Contemporary Art in Passariano-Codroipo, Italy, and was recently awarded one of the first Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation Fellowships. His work has been included in this year’s inaugural Moscow Biennale and in the Venice Bienalles for architecture (2002) and art (2003).

  1. THE ANTI–TOP TEN Organisms feed on the flow of matter and energy from their environments to stay alive, and all organisms produce waste. But an ecosystem generates no net waste; one species’s waste is another species’s food. All living systems communicate within themselves and share resources across boundaries. You never know how energy is going to get recycled . . . what other worlds exist with value we can’t yet comprehend . . . perceiving the imperceptible, the unexpected, the not-yet-named, possible only through a mechanical exercise . . . in a weightless space . . . far away in another galaxy . . . watching True Stories . . . “I’ve been trying to meet you.”

  2. DE-EDUCATION As Fernando Pessoa tells us, life is a long process to unlearn the learned. Take the eternal energy of the great artist Thomas Bayrle at Frankfurt’s Städelschule and mix it in a cocktail with the Venice University Institute of Architecture: Together, these two centers of education (in my experience) paradoxically remain by far the best places to unlearn everything!

  3. ASHES TO ASHES, DUST TO STARDUST Lewis Mumford maintained that cities originated from the necropolis and therefore from a culture of the dead. Today, under the above slogan, helps us send cremains into orbit. As for the living, how about a celestial investment, a plot on Venus or Mars? Welcome to “Now For A Limited Time . . . There Are Over 1.1 Million Lunar Land Owners from 176 Countries Already!” This could be the best real-estate deal in the universe.

  4. DEFYING GRAVITY Ecosystems achieve stability through the richness and complexity of their ecological webs. The wider their biodiversity, the greater their resilience. In Paul Scheerbart’s 1904 sci-fi novel The Emperor of Utopia, a party takes place in some twenty floating restaurants held aloft by large balloons. What a perfect scene for a gathering of Bruno Taut, Wenzel Hablik, Yona Friedman, R. Buckminster Fuller, Gyula Kosice, artist Gert Rietveld, aircraft designer Yuri Ishkov, winners of the Ansari X Prize, and everyone connected with Leonardo magazine. Perhaps they’d discuss the UFO sketches of Einar Thorsteinn or, more generally, their shared quest toward the outer spaces once deemed the domain only of God, now ruled by the laws of military radar.

    Bruno Taut, Der Domstern, 1918, ink on paper, 30 1/8  x 22". Bruno Taut, Der Domstern, 1918, ink on paper, 30 1/8 x 22".
  5. GETTING ABSORBED At “Kafka” (Inc. Cyber Café) in Miami or “Shakespeare” (and Co. Bookshop) in Paris, you could fall asleep—lost between the books, dust, and coffee—and no one would find you for days. Like Sir John Soane’s house in London or the Museo Xul Solar private library in Buenos Aires, these are places to blend in, disappear, and soak it all up.

    Sir John Soane’s Museum, London. Photo: Martin Charles. Sir John Soane’s Museum, London. Photo: Martin Charles.
  6. PARTNERSHIP Life persists on the planet not by combat but by cooperation. Kenneth Snelson’s geometric sculpture inspired R. Buckminster Fuller’s tensegrity research, resulting in Snelson’s tower at Park Sonsbeek in Arnhem, the Netherlands, which eventually collapsed in a windstorm. And so what? Art exists only when it fails, as Adorno tells us, but failure can’t be our goal or nothing would get accomplished. That’s why we need each other. Together, we will Do It!

  7. STRATEGIES FOR SURVIVAL Change your environment, mutate yourself, reproduce, or wait until a better time, like animals when they hibernate . . . or shoot a movie without any film in the camera, like Jay Chung. Chung’s latest work, with Q Takeki Maeda, shares a sense of productive stasis with the films of Clemens von Wedemeyer, or with Waiting for Godot. With introspective delay, you can outlive the present.

  8. PROGRESS Back when Gordon Matta-Clark bought his “microparcels”—impossibly small slivers of New York City real estate left over from the demarcation lines of other property—he said he was excited by their inaccessibility: “Everyone’s notion of ownership is determined by the use factor.” More than thirty years later comes architect Patricio Cuello and his “24 inches house” (seen at Bienal Miami + Beach, 2003), a possible use for the formerly useless.

    Patricio Cuello, 24– Inch Isometric Drawing, 2004, ink on paper, 36 x 24". Patricio Cuello, 24– Inch Isometric Drawing, 2004, ink on paper, 36 x 24".
  9. NETWORKS Like the networks at all scales of nature, we find living systems nesting within other living systems and networks within networks. Their boundaries are not of separation but of identification . . .AlexisRochas-HeidulfGerngross-AndreasZybach- NatalijaMiodragovic-MirjanaStojadinovic-CiroNajle-PeterCook- ClaudioCaveri-StefanoBoeri-ClaudioVekstein-BollingerGrohmann- FreiOtto-OlafurEliasson-DanielBirnbaum-MarkWigley-HansUlrichObrist- RirkritTiravanija-JuanHerreros-TueGreenfort-JeppeHein- MichaelBeutler-CatherineDavid-CarolineEggel- CristianeRekadeInesKatzenstein-DanielaSwarowksy-LucaCerizza- ChristineBärnthaler.

    Jeppe Hein, Moving Neon Cube, 2004, neon tubes, transformers, and electrical equipment,27 9/16 x 90 1/2 x 90 1/2". Jeppe Hein, Moving Neon Cube, 2004, neon tubes, transformers, and electrical equipment,27 9/16 x 90 1/2 x 90 1/2".
  10. REVOLUTION The tsunami that devastated Southeast Asia also modified the Earth’s axis and shifted the North Pole about an inch. Daytime decreased by 2.68 microseconds, because the planet now spins slightly faster. But more subtle action, in fact everything we do, has the potential for global impact. As NASA’s Dr. Benjamin Fong Chao says, “Any worldly event that involves the movement of mass affects the Earth’s rotation, from seasonal weather down to driving a car.”