On a day where the rain is doing its best to be noticed, the subject of clouds has made its way subconsciously top to the dautingly big ‘to blog about’ pile. Likewise, I am going to put my online reputation quite literally ‘on the line’ by announcing my first ‘trendspot’ – that of the indoor weather phenomenon.
[Although, it is perhaps worth noting that this cultural observation probably stems more with a fascination with websites like trendspotting, than my own up-to-date know-how.]
Nevertheless, I would argue that concept of bringing the ‘great outdoors’ to a walled inside is very much in.
As is the case with any decent, Legally Blonde tight arguments, this conviction emerges from 3 separate personal experiences (all leading to a summary of the artist in question, Berndnaut Smilde) –
1) The popularity of Olafur Eliasson’s Weather Project at Tate Modern in 2003.
This is one of my earliest memories of being profoundly affected by a piece of so-called ‘art’, I recall not wanting to leave and making faces and snow-angel stances up at mirrors above. The installation not only inspired my art GCSE project, but also gave Londoners a piece of summer that they could share and rely on.
2) New York’s Pop-up parks.
I visited one of these earlier this year and it still remains one of my fondest memories of the city, as well as a welcome respite from the skyscrapers and thumbing your way through a soggy Lonely Planet amongst a bustling Soho crowd.
3) The Barbican’s rain room by Random International .
An installation that demonstrates a potential peak in Britishness (queuing, rain and 1950s architecture), it invites viewers to experience what it is like to control the elements. Although I have not sadly yet been, it is best probably saved to a cloudy day…
All these illustrate the profusion of the environment into the experience of art. It ignites issues of control and scientific experimentalism in the way we view nature and that, in light of climate change, what goes on indoor and outdoors are more closely aligned. These ideas are poignant in the work of the artist Berndnaut Smilde, or as WeAreUrban like to call him – “the modern day weather wizard”. Smilde creates cloud installations through combining smoke, moisture and spot lighting to create these surreal pieces – clouds fortunately resembling more the classical fluffy visions beloved by Disney, than the greys, and anger evoked by any Sandy’s and Katrina’s. Nimbus they may not be (the title of his exhibition in 2010), but I love how they evoke the sensuality and transcience of a cloud. As the artist himself concludes –
“Whether you see it as an ominous or a divine situation, by presenting a cloud out of its natural context it opens the possibility to project lots of ideas on it. I like to see to work as a timeless ephemeral moment.”
In other words, the calm before the storm; or more positively – the shadows preceding some sunshine.