If you have ever wished you could experience weightlessness but can't afford space tourism, then a Dusseldorf art gallery may get you closer, as long as you wear sturdy shoes. The in orbit multi-level art installation by Tomás Saraceno is suspended 20 m (60 ft) above the piazza of the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen gallery. The Argentinian architect and artist’s largest work to date aims to resemble a cloud landscape for those brave enough to walk through it.
The installation provides 2,500 sq m (27,000 sq ft) of steel wire safety nets stretched between three different levels below the glass cupola of the piazza. Between the nets, six inflatable PVC spheres up to 8.5 m (30 ft) in diameter divide the space and allow visitors to move freely around each "net" floor.
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"To describe the work means to describe the people who use it – and their emotions," explains Tomás Saraceno. "For me, the work visualizes the space-time continuum, the three-dimensional web of a spider, the ramifications of tissue in the brain, dark matter, or the structure of the universe. With ‘in orbit,’ proportions enter into new relationships; human bodies become planets, molecules, or social black holes."
In the three years of planning for the installation, Saraceno consulted with engineers, architects, and spider experts (arachnologists). Saraceno has also established a study of living spiders and their delicate web formation in the artist's room of the gallery's K21 Ständehaus building to inform the design process. Saraceno has created a formidable web as a result of these studies, the net structure alone weighs 3000 kg (6,600 lb), and the largest of the spheres weighs 300 kg (660 lb).
For those who suffer neither from vertigo nor arachnophobia, the installation may well provide the opportunity to view the world from new perspectives. Safety regulations mean that up to ten adults in stable shoes may walk among the nets at any one time, but it is hoped that any co-ordination of the visitors within the space may highlight a new communication method through the medium of vibration.
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