Aer( )sculpture: Inventing skies and micro-clouds into diaphanous sculptures made of the space technology nanomaterial silica aerogel

Ioannis Michaloudis, Bronwyn Dann

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    “It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn’t feel like a giant. I felt very, very small”. When astronaut Neil Armstrong said those words on his experience setting foot on the moon, he acted strictly as a visual artist: shutting one eye and attempting to measure the Earth in front of him. And he perceived the scaling of the giant planet as a tiny pea. If Cosmos will be the muse of the future, what are the dimensions of Space Beauty? Why, on Earth, do we prefer massive artworks/totems and we underestimate miniatures? What could be the relations between climax (the Greek word for scale and ladder) and climate change? In this paper the author will attempt to answer these questions presenting the allegories and symbolisms of two of his artworks, Skymarket and Ephebos Head. The author’s research and artworks are all about the nanomaterial silica aerogel an ethereal (im)material resembling our sky. Living and realizing his research in three different countries/climates the last 4 years, he has initiated collaborative interdisciplinary research with MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences on possibilities to imitate moving micro clouds inside the diaphanous body of his sculptures made of the space nanotechnology silica aerogel. The creative venture of this interdisciplinary research also has technological applications as it could drive to a scientific visualisation on bio-mimicry of microclimatic experimentations on greenhouse and climate change phenomena. 

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)535–542
    Number of pages8
    JournalJournal of Sol-Gel Science and Technology
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017


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