Cloud Atlas__beta [2023]

“Forecast” Group exhibition, curated by DesignTO. Jan 11th – feb 4th 2023

Look up in the sky, what do you see? Clouds, that are the subject of youthful joy, the very epitome of dreams and weightlessness, are now also the site of dramatic and potentially irreversible geo-interventions in the name of climate mitigation.

Cloud Atlas__beta is a work of speculative design that aims to present an alternative perspective to the general rhetoric of climate mitigation, exploring the dramatic shifts to the colors, shapes and experiences of the everyday that solar geoengineering will create.  In emerging policy recommendations targeting climate mitigation, cloud-seeding is one radical proposal under the umbrella strategy of climate geoengineering (defined by the University of Oxford’s geoengineering program as “the deliberate large-scale intervention into the Earth’s natural systems to counteract climate change”) that would raise the density and reflective quality of clouds to deflect the sun’s heat away from the earth.  

This atlas outlines potential strategies and particulates that will feature in future research and deployment, building on nascent scientific research around Stratospheric Aerosol Injection and the inorganic/bio-engineered particles that would factor in it. Cloud Atlas__beta provides updated nomenclature for such anthropogenically derived clouds that contributes to a novel sky, a visual aesthetic of the everyday that may be elided in the technocratic drive towards engineering the ultimate solution. The atlas aims to provide new visibility for the traces of intervention in the skies above us, and with this new resource, the very act of identifying the clouds becomes a radical political act that holds us witness to the lived reality of climate mitigation strategies.  At the current nexus of dramatic and urgent climate change on the one hand; relentless progress in synthetic biology and techno-solutionism on the other, how might future proposals of bio-engineered interventions combine (and conflate) the complex value systems embedded within each. Could synthetic clouds built through a mixture of scientific ingenuity and design thinking be the new vehicles for carbon capture and solar radiation management? How might that change the aesthetics of our everyday life? How might this emerging notion of “air-at-work” change our experience of wonder, scale and the sublime?

The project is supported by Alex Di Nunzio (3D scenography and cloud-creation pipeline) and Natalie Plociennik (graphic design).


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