On January 25, 2020, the aerosolar sculpture Aerocene Pacha flew with a message “Water and Life are Worth More than Lithium”, written with the Communities of Salinas Grandes and Laguna de Guayatayoc in Jujuy, Argentina, who are raising their voices in unison against harmful lithium extraction practices in northern Argentina. Fly with Aerocene Pacha stands in solidarity with them. Floating completely free from fossil fuels, batteries, lithium, solar panels, helium, and hydrogen, Aerocene pilot Leticia Noemi Marqués set 32 world records recognized by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI). This achievement marks the most sustainable flight in human history and one of the most important experiments in the history of aviation.
While birds, seeds, spores and others have been flying sustainably for millennia – drifting with thermal currents – humans have only achieved this with – for example, paragliders and delta planes – for short distances and durations. Aerocene stands for an era where humans will evolve in the air as plants and other animals have evolved on water, learning to float and not fly, moving with the rivers of the wind. Might our dear interspecies friends welcome us in this stage of Homo flotantis?
There are two ways of flying: one follows the principles of aerodynamics. Airplanes, helicopters, and rockets, for example, have a greater density than the air. This kind of heavier-than-air aircraft does not depend on buoyancy for support but, instead, gains lift from aerodynamic forces. When, in 1891, Otto Lilienthal began flying gliders, he built a 10 meter tall tower to gain the necessary lift to drag ratio. In 1903, the Wright brothers used gasoline engines to power the propellers of Kitty Hawk, the first airplane. The Apollo XI mission to the moon in 1969 was powered by kerosene; whilst the Solar Impulse world circumnavigation from 2015 to 2016, used lithium polymer batteries charged by photovoltaic cells to generate the electricity that powered the motors.
The second way of flying follows the principles of aerostatics. In this case, lighter-than-air crafts like balloons and dirigibles, among others, rise and float into the atmosphere by establishing buoyancy, historically through the use of gases such as hydrogen or helium or hot air heated by a burner using propane and other fuels. When the Montgolfier brothers’ hot air balloon lifted a human into the air for the first time in 1783, for example, they used fire to fly into the sky.
In contrast, in the record setting flight of Aerocene Pacha, Leticia achieved aerostatic lift-off using only air heated by the sun, and both sculpture and pilot floated for a record 16 minutes over a distance of 667.85 meters. The flight of Aerocene Pacha is one beyond the use of aerodynamics: this lighter-than-air vehicle lifts slowly in concert with the stillness-in-motion of aerostatics, with no fuel and no force. It is the hallmark of a new era, an era in which all co-inhabitants of the Earth recognize that we are onboard a shared planet, in a collective journey around itself and the sun.
Find out more about the flight of Aerocene Pacha and the Aerocene Foundation at aerocene.org
Fly with Aerocene Pacha was produced by the Aerocene Foundation and Studio Tomás Saraceno. Supported by Connect, BTS, curated by DaeHyung Lee. The Aerocene Foundation is made possible by the generous support of Espace Muraille Eric and Caroline Freymond.
This artwork invites you to move differently, floating with the rhythms of the planet. Become part of a community that changes habits, not the climate -towards an Aerocene era!
Incorporating real-time information from 16-day forecasts of wind speeds at different altitudes, the Aerocene App is a navigational tool used to plan journeys in the Aerocene era, bringing us closer to an alternative future where we move with the rhythms of the planet. Floating free from borders and fossil-fuels, we can lift off on our very own aerosolar journey guided only by the heat of the sun and the earth, and the air we all breathe. A digital gallery of Aeroglyphs – signatures in the air – chart the trajectories of the 7976 (and counting) virtual flights that have taken place so far on the Aerocene App.
Real Flights are recorded via an interactive global archive. The Aerocene community has launched numerous aerosolar sculptures lifted only by the sun and the air, carried only by the wind. Through the Aerocene app, you can connect with the Aerocene community to join a real flight or engage with the over 103 tethered, 16 free and 8 human Aerocene flights that have floated in more than 43 different countries. The App’s new Augmented Reality functionality invites us to live an immersive experience by visualizing the invisible drawing made by an aero solar sculpture as it flies. Visit the location of an Aerocene flight to see the trace of its trajectory, or place an archived one onto a chosen site, for a renewed way to sense the air and decolonize the earth from fossil fuel regimes.