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A Space-Inspired Floating Playground That Puts Visitors Into Orbit

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Tomás Saraceno's M.O. as an artist is to make you float—either on top of millions of yards of plastic, or inside of hexagonal sky pods, or on top of an inflatable balloons. His latest Jules Verne-tinged installation, which opened today, is no different.

In Orbit, as the piece is called, took three years to design and build. The installation invites visitors to climb a rope ladder to reach a three-layered network of netting that hangs 60 feet above the courtyard of a museum in Germany. Up above the building, they're welcome to lounge, explore, or play withe a dozen gigantic PVC balls that litter the 75,000-square-foot canopy.

What's the point of this massive, floating installation (besides having fun)? Saraceno talks about his work in terms of particle physics and astronomy. He describes his inflatable landscapes like they're building-sized models of physical phenomena, including String theory, Planck scales, and space-time continuums. So given the name of this piece—In Orbit—it's easy to imagine it in terms of celestial bodies: dozens of tiny humans floating through deep space, interacting with inflatable planets as they go. [Images via Tomás Saraceno and Design Boom]