New York City

Tomás Saraceno

Argentinean-born, Frankfurt-based visual artist Tomás Saraceno describes his newest installation, Cloud City, with whimsy and enthusiasm: It is a sundial, a giant solar barbecue, and a spacecraft, he insists. But beyond these conceits, the piece is also a study of the relationship between volume, surface, and perception. “I was really inspired by the Weaire-Phelan structure,” he explains, referring to the polyhedral modules of stainless steel and glass that make up the work. Visitors to Cloud City—which is perched atop New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and looks out to Central Park—are invited to walk in and around the 29-foot-tall sculpture and see how it reflects and refracts views of the skyline beyond and the park below to the point of incomprehensibility. Because it would be occupied, the structure was subject to building code and health and safety regulations, which Saraceno addressed with the help of the local architecture firm Brooklyn Office and engineering consultancy Arup. Vertigo and disorientation were major concerns for the city, but Saraceno hoped to subvert visitors’ sense of place as much as possible. “We wanted the sky on the floor,” he laughs. Cloud City will be on view through November 4, 2012.