John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.
Fitting, given the city’s reputation for actual clouds and cloud-based computing.
All right, let’s check this weekend’s weather forecast for Seattle ...
Hmmm. If there’s one thing the city needs, it’s more stormy weather. And Dan Corson has happily obliged with a new public sculpture that’s half clouds, half floating alien cyberslugs.
“Nebulous” is a continuation of the local artist’s mining of natural themes; he’s also created huge singing flowers under the Space Needle and street lights in Portland that look like groovy carnivorous plants. For this installation, located at Amazon’s campus in South Lake Union, Corson fuses the meteorological meaning of “cloud” with its 21st century, digital definition. He explains at Vimeo:
We are currently shifting from our analog hard copy world and local computer storage to “cloud-based” systems. The intricacy of these systems eludes most software users and yet clouds of electrons constantly transport information all around us. The two large forms above us, inspired by early digital rendering applications, float over the courtyard with two solar lighting shadows imbedded in the pavement below. Neither fully transparent nor fully opaque, these clouds have select glass discs shifting between levels of opacity in a digital dance resembling old school calculating computers or perhaps pulsing lightning within clouds on a stormy day.
The way the circular panels flicker at night gives the clouds the illusion of a dark intelligence, one that’s somehow connected to those glowing nodes in the pavement. Strolling underneath, people might wonder if they’re about to be blasted by a crackling bolt made of pure 0s and 1s. A few more views: