Up on the roof of NY's Met museum in 'Cloud City'

NEW YORK Tue May 15, 2012 5:30am EDT

File photo of Tomas Saraceno's Cloud Cities exhibition at Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin, September 14, 2011. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

File photo of Tomas Saraceno's Cloud Cities exhibition at Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin, September 14, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Thomas Peter

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Argentine artist Tomas Saraceno combines art, architecture and science in a striking installation on the rooftop garden of The Metropolitan Museum of Art that gives visitors a different perspective of the sky, clouds and the city around them.

"Cloud City," which opens on Tuesday and runs for six months, is a giant jumble of interconnecting modules, measuring 54 feet (16 meters) long and 28 feet (8.5 meters) high, that rises to varying levels and incorporates reflective materials, mirrors and glass with New York's skyline and Central Park as the backdrop.

Visitors can enter and walk through the spheres in what Saraceno described as a way to experience connections and relations that make it appear you are not where you are.

"Upside down, Central Park is a flying garden embedded in a cumulus cloud, mirrored buildings and skies appear under your feet, gravity seems to reorient itself, and people are multiplied in patchworks of cloudscape, forming unexpected interconnected networks," he said.

The exhibit, which is Saraceno's first in the United States, was commissioned specifically by the Metropolitan Museum of Art for the roof garden and was two years in the making.

It is the 15th single-artist installation on the roof site.

Anne Strauss, the associate curator in the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art, described the installation as "a bold and exhilarating endeavor."

"Tomas Saraceno is an artist who opens our eyes to ideas and possibilities and his site-specific structure is so successfully in dialogue with the setting. It is a microcosm against the microcosm that is Manhattan," Strauss told a press briefing.

She added that if it were not for the steel cables that anchor the structure to the museum, it seemed as if it might take off and join the clouds in the atmosphere.

Saraceno's work was inspired by various phenomena and structures including clouds, bubble, bacteria, foam and social and neural communication networks, according to the museum.

"Cloud City is an invitation to perceive simultaneously a multiplicity of realities, making overlapping and multi-reflective connections between things, affecting and challenging our perceptions," he said.

"Cloud City is a vehicle for our imagination, ready to transport us beyond social, political and geographical states of mind."

The installation will be on view at the museum through November 4.

(Editing by Christine Kearney)