Networked_Performance

Clouds of clouds

Commissioned for Interact 15, Clouds of clouds — by Miguel Leal and Luis Sarmento — is a random generator of cloud images. Each new cloud is unique and indexed to a particular time (GMT) on a particular day. It was developed in Perl + MySQL; the database has more than 1,000,000 photos gathered from Flickr between September 10-13 2008, using Flickr API.

This is randomness, and that is altogether different. If absolutely necessary, you can count the stars. A catalogue has been kept of them since Antiquity. But if you ask for a catalogue of the clouds, people laugh at you. There is no such term as cloud, defined as permanent, defined by its borders, by its terms or its terminations. [?] Clouds, whirlwinds, flows, noises, all primary masses without qualities.” — M. Serres.

Chaos theories, as they have emerged in strength since the 1960s, with their focus on complexity, were in fact an answer to the monstrous and misshapen nature of certain phenomena that were revealed to be resistant to determinist equations or to the laws of causality. Atmospheric phenomena such as clouds have always been seen as an image of the inability to submit certain realities to precise measurement. To all intents and purposes, clouds appeared to be a perfect example of irreducibility, instability and unpredictability. Clouds, in their apparent causal disjunction, like a whirlwind or vortex, represented the principles of error, exception and monstrosity.

Perhaps this is why there have never been dreams of an individual cloud catalogue, since it would be so absurd. If we ask anybody for something similar, we risk being ridiculed, as Michel Serres recalls. Clouds are instantly fleeting and have no number or stable form. They exist now and no longer exist a moment later. We can classify the clouds approximately, order them by type or try to understand their signs but we have no way of archiving them.

The exponential growth of Web files, particularly with the participative forms that Web 2.0 has made common, has finally brought us an embryo for these absurd archives, and not only for clouds. Everything that has always been firmly uncataloguable seems to have found its place in the distributed digital archives.

At the same time, curiously, we have an increasing popularity in recent years for terms such as Cloud Computing, Cloud Architecture, Data Clouds, Text Clouds or Tag Clouds, in what represents the attribution of a new semantic power to our idea of a cloud. Particularly on the web, with the explosion of social networks, it has become common to use similar devices to organise meta-information generated by users.

Clouds of clouds is a random generator of cloud images. Each new cloud is unique and indexed to a particular time (GMT) on a particular day. Its clouds were made on similar dates and at similar times, not necessarily the same year, and are linked to the original web pages.

The basis of the archives are all images indexed with the tags or on Flickr.

These are not clouds in the atmospheric meaning of the word, but instead entities with which they share a complexity that can be confused with instability, unpredictability and irreducibility. That this is based on a relatively simple visualisation arrangement is another way of indicating that this complexity depends less on what we see on the surface than on the networks of relationships established from it.

The clouds generated by the users are kept in searchable archives. These archives will grow with the project and are intended to become, over time, veritable daily, monthly, yearly archives of clouds. Clouds of clouds also works as a type of infinite nesting doll: clouds within clouds, archives within archives.


Sep 30, 17:13
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