Salar de Uyuni – Bolivia expedition

EXPEDITION LOGBOOK
Sala de Uyuni, Bolivia
20.1338° S, 67.4891° W
3,656 metres above sea level

In 2017 Tomas Saraceno and a small group of photographers, documentalists, artists and geographers visited the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia, one of the world’s largest salt flats.

They were looking for images in which the horizon disappears as a result of the reflection of the sky on the water-covered surface of the salt flat, investigating the perception of floating in the clouds during the day or in the constellations of stars at night.

This Aerocenic gathering was a seed for many initiatives, connections, and cosmogonies that would later come together: the development of an international Aerocene community and the World Record making of Pacha flights in Salinas Grandes, piloted by Leticia Marques carrying the message of the native communities for climate justice.

But the reality we encounter in the mesmerising landscapes of Latin America’s salt flats is that the disastrous effects of the mining industry on earth inherently extend both upwards and downwards.

Aerocene imagines a future era in which we learn together to float and live in the air, but also in which we recognize that we cannot do so without reaching an ethical alignment to the atmosphere and our planet Earth.

Today we share this beautiful trip with the Aerocene community, through a selection of texts from the trip’s open logbook. We invite you to read the excerpts:

Photography by Studio Tomás Saraceno, © 2016Photography by Studio Tomás Saraceno, © 2016
Photography by Studio Tomás Saraceno, © 2016Photography by Studio Tomás Saraceno, © 2016
Photography by Studio Tomás Saraceno, © 2016Photography by Studio Tomás Saraceno, © 2016
Photography by Studio Tomás Saraceno, © 2016Photography by Studio Tomás Saraceno, © 2016
Photography by Studio Tomás Saraceno, © 2016Photography by Studio Tomás Saraceno, © 2016
Photography by Studio Tomás Saraceno, © 2016Photography by Studio Tomás Saraceno, © 2016

“The point is that what was expected was found wanting: the rains and liquid volumes were long overdue. So we kneeled and burnt incense, we encircled shrines and listened to the bemoaned wailings of agrarian villages crying to their lord – or lords – to turn it on, to bring the rain – it was long. long overdue.”

Jol Thoms

 

“Por la noche en el salar comenzó a soplar un viento infernal. Con la guitarra toqué algunas canciones para entrar en calor pero el frío y el viento hizo que me metiera en la pileta de lona con Tomás que estaba todo tapado con varias mantas en su bolsa de dormir. Una vez dentro de la pileta en mi bolsa de dormir y tapado con las mantas intenté nuevamente tocar la guitarra. Al sacar el mástil hacia arriba, el viento hizo vibrar las cuerdas produciendo unos sonidos y unas armonías ya que modificando la inclinación de la guitarra o girándola apenas iba variando una melodía con notas más graves o más agudas. El instrumento de cuerdas se transformó temporalmente en uno de viento. Más tarde nos dormimos con un cielo totalmente cubierto de estrellas.”

Maxi Laina

 

“Next morning we find the lake covered with Bubbles. No idea where they come from. Air inclusions rising from the salt ground? Algae blooms?…
The feeling of hovering in space is back a last time. When approaching the tripod of my camera I actually lose my balance. Jan is reporting the same feeling.”

Bernd Pröschold

 

“Arrivati in ostello, eravamo presi tutti da un’euforia strana, finalmente pioveva ed era una cosa importante non solo per il nostro progetto, ma anche per tutti gli abitanti di Coqueza che aspettavano questo giorno da varie settimane. La serata si è trasformata in una festa cantando, suonando la chitarra e giocando a carte!
La mattina dopo ci siamo svegliati all’alba, eravamo in mezzo a uno specchio d’acqua. Il cielo e le nuvole si riflettevano nel suolo, tutto era doppio e il sole brillava forte come mai ho visto prima.
Questo è stato uno dei giorni più speciali del mio viaggio e sicuramente un ricordo straordinario che porterò sempre con me.”

Martina Pellachi

 

“No tenemos agua, pero, tenemos sandía”
Sasha Engelmann

 

“It started to rain a few days before the end of the expedition, but the salt lake was so dry that the water just fully got absorbed.
Suddenly at night it started to rain seriously: you could hear it very loud on the zinc roof.
I went to sleep with this exciting feeling I had when I was a child and the first snow was falling during the evenings, just before bedtime.”
Daniel Schulz

Photography by Studio Tomás Saraceno, © 2016Photography by Studio Tomás Saraceno, © 2016
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Photography by Studio Tomás Saraceno, © 2016Photography by Studio Tomás Saraceno, © 2016
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Read more about the fight for Climate Justice and against unsustainable Lithium Extraction

Watch Tomas Saraceno with Aerocene TED Talk on

La Isla de La Paternal

On Sunday Septermber 27th, members of the Buenos Aires Aerocene Community gathered for an aero solar flight at “La Isla de La Paternal”. “La Isla”, or the island, is one of the Buenos Aires city most important green spaces: a green lung surrounded by the neighborhoods of La Paternal, Villa Ortúzar and Angronomía, now at risk of an excluding real estate development.

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Climate Strike Berlin 2021

The Aerocene Berlin community participated on the September 24th Climate Strike, carrying a fully inflated aerosolar sculpture that had been modified with an inscrption: Uproot the system.

Tens of thousands of protesters gathered outside Germany’s parliament on Friday calling on authorities to take stronger action against climate change.

Swedish activist Greta Thunberg addressed the Berlin crowd from a stage, urging voters to keep politicians under constant pressure over climate change.

“We can still turn this around,” she said. “We demand change, and we are the change.”

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Flying in Campo Imperatore

On September 19th, Aerocene participated with an aerosolar flight at Performartive 0.1, an international festival of performance, arte, dance, theatre and music organized by Maxxi L’Aquila.

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Wetlands Protest at Congreso de la Nación

On Wednesday 18 August 2021, the Aerocene community of Buenos Aires and the islands of the Paraná River Delta participated in the demonstration in front of Congress in favour of the Wetlands Law. The protest was organised by different civil society groups, self-organised movements and political parties, coordinated by the Multisectorial Humedales.

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Aerocene @ Abitare Conessioni Festival

In August 2021, the Aerocene Community was invited to participate of the Abitare Conessioni Festival, in the Barbagia region in Sardinia. Represented by Lorenzo Malloni, during several days Aerocene sculptures flew to the backdrop of of Orani, it’s people and beautiful town.

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Treptower Park Berlin

As the boreal summer slowly unfolds in the northern hemisphere, a group of Aerocene community members from Berlin set out to inaugurate the aerosolar floating season. United at Treptower Park, alongside the river Spree, they inflate the Aerocene sculpture contained in the Backpack by running around, filling it up with the same air we all breathe. As the sun heats, slowly, the air inside becomes warmer and thus lighter than the air outside.

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Floating above and below: Aerocene Frozen Lake, Rummelsburg, Berlin

Sunday, 14th of February 2021

Rummelsburg, Berlin, Germany

52.4946° N, 13.4800° E

TIME ON AIR: 360′

 

Aerosolar Pilots:


Lorenzo Malloni

Irina Bogdan

Thomas Charil

Alberto Vallejo

Giulia Ambrosini

Diego Alejandro Puerto Martinez

 

After a week of very low temperatures, a rare opportunity has been made possible by especially harsh winter conditions in Berlin this year: a sharp radiant sun has uncovered above the city and its frozen waterways, allowing thousands of people to walk on thick ice. 

Early in the morning, a group of six Aerosolar Pilots borrowed three Backpacks from the Aerocene Foundation and experienced a flight free from carbon emissions on top of the frozen Rummelsburg lake in Berlin. 

The vast white surface of the lake had stopped any of its motions, no water ripples, boats remaining still in their positions, as decontextualized artefacts on a deserted land. Terrestrial beings are now bashfully walking where they were not allowed to only a day before. A spontaneous situationist environment has come to life, an empty, vast stage where the public and performers merge, activating a place for renewed shared experiences. 

As soon as the black Aerosolar sculptures get inflated on the ice with only air, the power of the sun lifts them off instantaneously – amplified by the albedo reflection effect on the white, frosty lake. Immediately, their movements in the thin air generate a focal point attracting the public and participants onto the wide white stage. 

The Aerosolar Pilots share their floating experience with whoever is around, passing the fluctuating rope and initiating a bonded, bonding slow dance between humans and the solar airborne creatures.

The transitory stage hosts the first act of a participatory piece in which the sun, the winds, human and non-human are all protagonists. 

Although the stunning beauty of the three hours experience, bathed in the wintry sun, it is not easy for the aeronauts to forget that under that thick layer of ice, down to the bottom of the lake, the contamination of several decades of industrial waste has made impossible life conditions for many autochthonous species. 

As stated by the Bundesanstalt für Gewässerkunde: 

“The combination of high chemical contamination with persistent organic and inorganic chemicals, toxicity and specific substrate composition, makes a natural repopulation scenario for the improvement of the biological diversity extremely improbable”

When leaving the lake, the aeronauts’ wish is that the mirage-like white blanket that has covered it for the day, allowing for them to fly aerosolar on top of it, will be a reminder of what lies beneath it, at its very bottom, where man-generated pollutant particles have layered in-depth; that our waste does not only end up in the air that we breathe, but also in the very populated hidden underworld of our lakes, rivers and seas, all very close to us, but perhaps often forgotten merely because we can´t walk on them.

Photography by Aerocene Foundation and Tom Klingbeil, 2021, licensed under CC by Aerocene Foundation 4.0

Aerocene Laboratory Moscow

Thirteen participants. Four months of waiting for a suitable weather forecast in Moscow. Two unsuccessful launch attempts with the Aerocene Backpack.

And finally, –20°C. We unrolled the black fabric, took in the air. The sun came out almost immediately. It took just a few minutes for the air inside to warm up and raise the sculpture.

We proved to ourselves that flying without fuel is real. Even in Russia, even when it’s a little crisp and snowy at –20°C. All we need is sun and a minimum of wind.

People will have to become even more weather dependent soon, will have to tactfully slow down and literally learn to plan flights. But why not? In my opinion, it’s awesome!

Launch data

  • 8th February, 2021, 10.50 AM
  • Chernogolovka airfield, Moscow region
  • southwest wind, 2 m / s

Organized by Garage Museum of Contemporary Art

Katya Vlasova
Katya Yakovleva
Nu Simakina
Nastya Mleko
Oks Rudko
Margarita Polyanskaya
Maksim Saleev
Nikolay Golikov
Svyat Kilesso
Ksenia Nechaeva
Denis Sivkov

Technical consultant Denis Efremov
Program manager Aleksandra Evtushenko
Curator Iaroslav Volovod

Patagonia Argentina

During the austral summer 2021, several Aerocene Community members were able to fly aerosolar, even in Patagonia! Neuquén and Río Negro signed this January the socio-environmental pact to preserve the air, so that we can all breathe.

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