Based on principles of thermodynamic energy, Saraceno’s two spherical sculptures are meant to rise during the day in response to solar heat and continue to stay afloat at night using infrared radiation from the Earth. They are made with a two-part membrane of silver-toned and transparent Mylar, then filled with one of the planet’s most overlooked natural resources—air.
The sculptures are prototypes, part of a series of zero-emissions vehicles, which Saraceno has been building and testing for nearly eight years, with the ultimate hope of sending these air-based vehicles around the globe. “We are working with MIT and many other universities to figure out ways to keep them in the air for longer periods of time, using weather simulations, studying the jet stream, and figuring best time of year to take off,” said Saraceno in a phone interview. He explained that the piece’s movement is based entirely “on the way currents move from one place to another,” rather than dictated by the sometimes-geopolitically dictated permissions that control air traffic. “It does not have defined borders,” Saraceno added.