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Aerocene Hack 2, Exhibition Road, London – open call



NOVEMBER 26-27, 2016 | Exhibition road, london

**UPDATE: Aerocene Hack 2 application deadline has been extended until 24 November, 2016 at 23:59 (GMT)**

Aerocene together with Exhibition Road institutions announce an open call for an collaborative hack to imagine and prototype the future of the Aerocene Explorer. We are looking for developers, designers, artists, data scientists, and creative technologists.

Aerocene is an open-source project for artistic and scientific exploration. Originating from the vision of artist Tomás Saraceno, the project centers around the Aerocene Backpack, an evolving air-fuelled sculpture for personal exploration of the air. Becoming buoyant from the heat of the Sun and infrared radiation from the surface of Earth, and carried by the jet streams, Aerocene Explorer aims to achieve a carbon-emissions-free journey around the world. The project is embedded in a community of collaborators and partners from around the world, pushing the development of new solutions and technologies for sustainable Aerocene travel and living. Aerocene is a movement, an invitation to shape a period of time, a new epoch. Aerocene is a response to – and a way to transcend – our current Anthropocene era.

This is the second of a series of hack events taking place as part of Aerocene at Exhibition Road (documentation of the previous hack here). Through October to December 2016, Aerocene is working together with members of the Exhibition Road Cultural Group – 17 prestigious cultural and scientific institutions, among them Imperial College London, the Natural History Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and Serpentine Galleries – to create an open and collaborative research platform.

The Challenges

The Aerocene Backpack, our tethered-flight starter kit currently in beta version, will enable anyone to launch their own personal exploration of the atmosphere. This hack will be about imagining and prototyping future extensions, iterations and supporting tools for the Aerocene Explorer under three specific challenges:

I. FREE FLIGHT (Prediction and Visualisation)

This challenge is about helping future iterations of the Aerocene Explorer, already in development, to fly free by mapping, visualising and predicting Aerocene Explorer flight paths. In a test earlier this summer the free-flying Aerocene “Gemini” traveled from Berlin to northeastern Poland, a distance of 800 km, without burning any fossil fuels! We can offer trajectory data from this and other free-flights, access to a prototype flight predictor based on public NOAA GFS (Global Forecast System) data developed with our collaborators at MIT’s Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Science Department (EAPS), and the possibility to iterate further on projects developed in the previous Aerocene Hack, 29-30th October. We invite mashups with other data sources, beautiful visualisations, and intuitive user interfaces that imagine new ways to interact with the data.


The air above us is more than just empty space. This challenge is about extending the sensing capabilities of the Aerocene Explorer to study airborne ecosystems: microbes, fungal spores, insects… Currently the Aerocene Backpack carries a camera for streaming live aerial footage and a sensors for collecting bariometric pressure, humidity and temperature data. Under guidance of experts from the Natural History Museum, this challenge invites the development of new sensing tools, traps and devices for sensing and sampling aerial biodiversity.


Since the early 1960 balloons have been used to ‘sound’ the atmosphere: communicating atmospheric data at different altitudes and locations through radio. Hundreds of radiosonde balloons are launched around the world daily for atmospheric research and to monitor weather systems. Similarly, radio communications have been crucial for Aerocene Explorer test free-flights for tracking, recovery and data retrieval. This challenge is about exploring the technical, scientific and artistic potential of sounding and radio communication with the Aerocene Explorer: from mesh communications, to data science and atmospheric fluid dynamics, visualisation and sonification of data, infra-sound and aero-acoustics.

What to expect

The hack will run over the weekend 26-27th November. It will begin on Saturday morning with an introduction to the project and challenges, and initial brainstorming as part of the Aerocene Campus event at the Royal College of Art Senior Common Room. After lunch the hack will move to the Imperial College Advanced Hackspace (ICAH) to refine project ideas, form interdisciplinary teams and begin prototyping hacks. Expert guidance, feedback and help will be provided. We will provide food, drinks, tools and equipment, hardware and basic prototyping materials.

In the spirit of open source all teams will be encouraged to openly document their progress and share their final documentation. Teams will automatically become part of the Aerocene community.

Time frame

24/11 – application deadline (23:59 GMT)
25/11 – notification of selected participants
26/11 9:30AM – kick-off as part of Aerocene Campus
26/11 14:00PM – 27/11 18:00PM – hack continues at Imperial College Advanced Hackspace

How to Apply

Sign up below and tell us why you should be part of the Aerocene Open Call. You will be notified on November 25th whether you have been accepted to join the project



About Aerocene

Floating without burning fossil fuels, without using solar panels or batteries, and without helium, hydrogen, or other rare gases, the Aerocene sculptures hold a message of simplicity, creativity, and cooperation in a world of tumultuous geopolitical relations, reminding us of our symbiotic relationship with the Earth and all of its species. Tomás Saraceno holds the certified world record for the first and longest, fully solar-powered, tethered solar balloon flight. This record was achieved on 8 November 2015 in the White Sands desert, New Mexico, a site of geographical significance as the missile range where the first atomic bomb test was conducted.

Aerocene is comprised of a dedicated and diverse global community of artists, geographers, philosophers, thinkers, speculative scientists, explorers, balloonists, technologists, and more. The first public presentation of the project under the name of Aerocene was at COP21, the United Nations Climate Change Conference, at the Grand Palais, Paris in 2015. The Aerocene project’s primary collaborators and supporters are the Center for Art, Science & Technology (CAST) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), CNES (French National Space Agency), CCK Argentina, Public Lab, The Goethe Institute, Radioamateur, Freifunk, IAK architecture-related Art Institute at Technische Universität Braunschweig, and TBA21, among others. Aerocene transcends boundaries between art and science and has become a visionary open participatory platform of knowledge production and distribution.

About Tomás Saraceno

Tomás Saraceno’s oeuvre could be seen as an ongoing research, informed by the worlds of art, architecture, natural sciences and engineering; his floating sculptures and interactive installations propose and explore new, sustainable ways of inhabiting and sensing the environment. Saraceno has, for the first time, scanned, reconstructed and reimagined spiders’ woven spatial habitats, in a unique artistic and bioacoustics experience that uses groundbreaking methods and is expanding the horizons of scientific research. He possesses the first and biggest three-dimensional spider web collection, the natural science object that has been overlooked by museums and research institutions. He has initiated many collaborations with renowned scientific institutions, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Max Planck Institute. Saraceno also achieved the world record of the first and longest certified fully solar flight, lifting a dozen of people in White Sands desert with D-O AEC sculpture without a drop of fuel, without solar panels or batteries, and without any artificially produced gases. His work has been exhibited internationally.

Aerocene’s residency at the Goethe-Institut London as part of the Exhibition Road Commission has been made possible thanks to the support of members of the Exhibition Road Cultural Group, Arts Council England, South Kensington Estates and our Founding Patrons: Francesca von Habsburg, Maja Hoffmann and Nicoletta Fiorucci.