Visiting ‘Cloud City’ With Tomás Saraceno on the Met’s Roof

Tomas Saraceno’s ‘Cloud City.’ (Courtesy Rozalia Jovanovic)

We did everything wrong. We were on the roof of the Metropolitan Museum of Art this morning wearing a skirt and heels and carrying a big bag. Before us was Tomás Saraceno’s sculpture, Cloud City, a 54-foot tall architectural structure of interconnected modules of reflective surfaces that looks at once like bubbles and bacteria, and reflects the cityscape in an Escher-like collage of trees, buildings and sky.

“Only flat rubber-soled shoes,” said a guard before the sculpture. Luckily, the artist came to our rescue.

“Shall we?” asked Mr. Saraceno. He was boyish in sneakers, with blue eyes and brown fluffy hair. “Come on.”

Walking up the stairs, there was an onslaught of images from the various slanted surfaces of the structure. We walked carefully. From one panel, we saw a reflection of the Gothic towers of the Dakota on the west side of Central Park. In another, we saw a few black steps—upside down. In yet another, we saw pure white sky.

Mr. Saraceno, who was born in 1973, in Tucamán, Argentina, is known for building “habitable networks,” interconnected geometric structures that meld art with architecture and science. Through his project “Cloud Cities/Air Port City,” of which the Met sculpture is a part, Mr. Saraceno continues to explore the ways we live in and connect with our environment while building on principles of architecture, engineering, physics, chemistry and aeronautics.

“I like that there are people,” Mr. Saraceno said, looking through a window at a lower reflective panel that showed the top half of a man in a suit. “You see this person? Where he is?” We couldn’t see anyone.

It reminded us of  Buckminster Fuller, we told the artist.

“There’s a project of his, which is called Cloud Nine—watch your head,” he said. He bent down, stepped through an opening and walked down the stairs.

“It might establish a network with the near surroundings,” he said, sitting on a bench. He pointed to a building across the park and looked out thoughtfully. “The person that lives in that apartment may get spots of sunshine at three o’clock.”

Mr. Saraceno also hopes to make a “cosmic connection,” and have the piece be visible from an international space station. “You’ll see it only for 18 seconds,” he said. “But it’s not visible all the time, because you know the orbit is not all the time on top of New York.”

Visiting ‘Cloud City’ With Tomás Saraceno on the Met’s Roof