The Gathering Cloud

Description (in English): 

This hybrid print- and web-based work work aims to address the environmental impact of so-called ‘cloud’ computing through the oblique strategy of calling attention to the materiality of the clouds in the sky. Both are commonly perceived to be infinite resources, at once vast and immaterial; both, decidedly, are not. Fragments from Luke Howard’s classic “Essay on the Modifications of Clouds” (1803) as well as more recent online articles and books on media and the environment are pared down into hyptertextual hendecasyllabic verses. These are situated within surreal animated gif collages composed of images materially appropriated from publicly accessible cloud storage services. The cognitive dissonance between the cultural fantasy of cloud storage and the hard facts of its environmental impact is bridged, in part, through the constant evocation of animals: A cumulus cloud weighs one hundred elephants. A USB fish swims through a cloud of cables. Four million cute cat pics are shared each day. A small print iteration of “The Gathering Cloud” shared through gift, trade, mail art, and small press economies further confuses boundaries between physical and digital, scarcity and waste. (Source: Author's description)

Part of another work: 
Pull Quotes: 

The Cloud is an airily deceptive name connoting a floating world far removed from the physical realities of data.

The fog comes on cute pics of little cat feet. Four million feline photos are shared each day. #lolcats track carbon footprints across The Cloud.

We walk on the bed of the sea of the air.

Technical notes: 

This work will not work fully on phones or tablets. Best viewed on laptops or desktops.

Screen shots: 
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Record posted by: 
J. R. Carpenter