Artist Creates Cloud Making Machine to Test Geoengineering "Limits of Knowledge"

© Karolina Sobecka

At the intersection of climate change and an understandably self-preserving human desire to fix a mess more of less of our own making, geoengineering -- the modification of weather through technological means -- is a controversial issue to say the least. Some have likened it fooling with interconnected, global systems that we don't fully understand, while others contend it may be the best way to cope with such serious shifts.

But leave it to an artist to create a tongue-in-cheek, cloud-making machine for personal use, while still highlighting that such means are still risky in widespread application -- and just because one can do it, doesn't mean that one has to (a subtle but nevertheless important distinction).

© Karolina Sobecka

US-based artist, animator and designer Karolina Sobecka's Cloud Machine is a "personal device for weather modification." Using a weather balloon to ascend, once the device reaches a specific altitude, it shoots out Cloud Condensation Nuclei (CCN), heat and water vapor -- a process inspired by geoengineering techniques. Moisture in the air condenses into cloud droplets around the CCN, forming into small clouds which help reflect some of the sun's radiation to counteract climate change.

© Karolina Sobecka

Commissioned as part of the Amateur Human and Nephologies exhibit at the V2_ Institute for Unstable Media, the small-scale Cloud Machine points to the inherent uncertainty of such technologies. Sobecka explains:

Clouds, the ‘bodies without surface’ have served myth-makers, philosophers and scientists as the face and the boundary markers of the invisible forces shaping our world. [..] This project consists of experiments and instruments to acquire knowledge of clouds and the systems they manifest. It combines scientific information with more whimsical and experiential approaches.

© Karolina Sobecka

In climate change predictions, clouds are the wild cards. While we understand the physical laws that govern the processes of the water cycle and formation of clouds, it is impossible to model so many individual clouds over longer period of time to predict their influence on climate. ‘Wringing exactitude from the vaporous clouds’ still escapes us.

© Karolina Sobecka
In the end, whether it's humanity's oft-blind faith in a quick technological fix or our current relationship of disconnection with nature, works like Cloud Machine show that there's still plenty of kinks to work out. More information over at Karolina Sobecka's website and the V2_ Institute for Unstable Media.

Tags: Artists | Arts | Geoengineering | Weather

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