'Cloud City': Like Walking Inside A Kaleidoscope

Originally published on May 16, 2012 7:04 am



In New York City, there's a new structure taking shape high above Central Park.

ANNE STRAUSS: Once we started to hoist the modules with an enormous crane, people became aware of it. You can see if from great distances.


That's Anne Strauss, an associate curator at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. She's talking about a new exhibit in the Met's rooftop garden called "Cloud City."

GREENE: The piece stands 28 feet tall, and it's composed of 16 many-sided pods. Think here about something looking like a space station, or maybe an outcrop of gemstones that you can climb inside and explore.

STRAUSS: You're walking through it. And you're seeing slices of the city turned upside down.

INSKEEP: Some of the floors are transparent. The walls are mirrored steel, or open to the air. It's like walking inside a kaleidoscope, we're told, a kaleidoscope that blends real views with mirror images of the sky and the city.

GREENE: Tomas Saraceno is the Argentine artist who created "Cloud City," And he says the design was inspired by the foam in your drink.

TOMAS SARACENO: When you drink milk with chocolate from a bottle or from a bottle of beer, and then you see the geometry of the foam, this is a little bit of the geometry of how we build the structure.

INSKEEP: He says the principle here is to create structures that look light enough to float away.


SARACENO: That would be nice. That's what I want it to be. Maybe it's in the future.

GREENE: Weighing in at 20 tons, "Cloud City" is not likely to float off. But Saraceno says having it on the roof of the Met is a good place to start. The exhibit will be open until November, and it's expected to draw more than a half a million visitors. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.