In the Clouds
Stavanger Art Museum
March 20 — October 18, 2020
We are, all of us, surrounded by clouds, both in the sky above and to an ever-greater extent by cloud computing. The exhibition In the Clouds presents works from the 1800s to our own time. Using diverse approaches to science and technology, many of the works reflect themes of current interest at the time they were made. They show, among other things, how clouds can be seen as carriers of dreams, ideas, freedom, myths, structures, threats and opportunities.
To an ever-greater extent, we live our life through social media and digital platforms. We programme, communicate and store data in ‘the Cloud’. Oftentimes the icon we click on to store or download digital data is a stylised cumulus cloud. In reality, the data is not floating in the atmosphere, but is stored on servers. The data for Stavanger Municipality, for example, is stored inside underground vaults. Located on the island of Rennesøy, the data centre measure 22,600 square metres and was formerly used as a NATO ammunition storage facility.
The need to understand and master digital technology comes to expression in Cory Arcangel’s Super Mario Clouds. By hacking and changing the coding in a cassette for the popular video game Super Mario Bros (Nintendo, 1985), Arcangel removed the sound and all visual elements other than the blue sky with white cumulus clouds. What at first glance can be read as a nostalgic gesture, or as a stylisation of classical art’s cloud motifs, can also be understood as a resistance to participating is contemporary society’s high-speed digital development.
For more information, please visit the Stavanger Art Museum website.