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Aerocene Hack – Exhibition Road, London

Maristella Svampa

Invitation to join an open collaborative hack to imagine future Aerocene journeys

Aerocene HACK – open call

Exhibition Road, London

Aerocene is an open-source project for artistic and scientific exploration. Started from the vision of artist Tomás Saraceno, Aerocene is developing new solutions and technologies for sustainable Aerocene travel and living, with support from multiple collaborators and partners around the world. 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.

Through October to December 2016, Aerocene will be working together with members of the Exhibition Road Cultural Group – 16 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. Aerocene at Exhibition Road continues to develop a series of air-fuelled sculptures, built to achieve a carbon-emissions-free journey around the world, becoming buoyant only from the heat of the Sun and infrared radiation from the surface of Earth. Powered by the Sun and wind currents, a recent flight of the Aerocene “Gemini” traveled from Berlin to northeastern Poland a distance of 800 km without burning any fossil fuel!

Call Description

Aerocene together with Exhibition Road institutions announce an open call to join the Aerocene project for an extended collaborative hack to imagine and prototype the tools of our Aerocene future. We’re looking for developers, designers, artists, data scientists, creative technologists, and enthusiasts.

The ChallengeS

The challenges proposed will help to improve and equip the Aerocene Backpack. with hardware and software. The Aerocene Explorer is a tethered-flight starter kit currently in deveolpment, which will enable anyone to personally launch their own Aerocene solar sculpture and explore the skies.

Challenges are divided into two categories:

Aerocene Flight Predictor: Help to develop Aerocene flight predictor further and to map the trajectory of Aerocene flight based on public NOAA GFS (Global Forecast System) data, historical flight data and previous work from Aerocene and collaborators including MIT Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Science Department (EAPS). Create a powerful graphical interface with intuitive user interaction that visualises forecast data and predicted flight paths. Imagine and prototype innovative user scenarios for Aerocene flight, potentially including mashups with other data sources.

Aerocene Hardware: Participants will have the exclusive opportunity to hack on the soon-to-be-released open source Aerocene Backpack, a tethered-flight starter kit that includes an Aerocene solar sculpture and hardware payload for personal atmospheric exploration: aerial photography, temperature, humidity, and altitude. We invite you to take this as a basis for iteration and a platform to develop new aerosolar technologies.

What to expect

On Friday 28th October participants will be invited to a kick-off event at the National History Museum Lates for an introduction to the Aerocene project from Tomás Saraceno and members of his studio and a closer look at the challenges, technologies and resources available.

The hack will start on Saturday 29th, running through until Sunday 30th October at the Imperial College Advanced Hackspace (ICAH). Participants will discuss possibilities, develop project ideas, form interdisciplinary teams and begin prototyping their hacks. Expert guidance, feedback and help will be provided. We will provide food, drinks, tools and equipment, and some basic prototyping materials.

Over the next 4 weeks the teams will refine their projects independently, with access to ICAH facilities and meeting space, along with continued access to expertise and guidance via Slack.

In the spirit of open source all teams will be encouraged to openly document their progress and share their final documentation. Teams will become part of the Aerocene community and be invited to join the upcoming Aerocene Symposium on Saturday 26th November (location t.b.c.), to present their work.

Time frame

24/10 – application deadline (midnight GMT)
26/10 – notification of selected participants
28/10 – evening kick-off event at National History Museum Lates
29-30/10 – 2-day hack at Imperial College Advanced Hackspace
30/10 – 25/11 teams follow up on their projects independently
26/11 – presentation of projects at Aerocene Symposium

How to APPLY

We have capacity for around 20-25 participants. Sign up below and tell us why you should be part of the Aerocene Open Call. You will be notified on 26th October 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’ weaved 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.