When was the last time you looked up into the sky at the clouds?
When you gaze up at the clouds, your eyes may draw you into a moment of silent contemplation: have you ever allowed yourself to wander around in the sky? The poet Friedrich Hölderlin declares, "full of merit, yet poetically, man dwells on this earth". When we gaze at the clouds, we get a chance to fly away from earthly and worldly affairs. It becomes possible to poetically dwell on the cloud.
As an essential object of observation and analysis, clouds have never been absent from the development of meteorology or the wider process of modernisation. The need for higher accuracy in weather prediction yielded both the invention of new instruments which then have been adopted in many other areas including wars, and the advancement of computer programming which laid the foundation of the development of cloud computing today. This exhibition uses cloud as a clue to contemporary life and its contradictions, tracking it as we move, with the rapid development of science and technology, from cloud (formation) as object of research to cloud (computing) as a social reality vast in its scope.
Today, the term “cloud” has become a central metaphor of the networked world — a global infrastructure that captures and retains critical masses data, an all-encompassing and borderless domain. Cloud-facilitated social networking gradually subsumes every moment of our lives. Even as it brings us together in new and virtual forms, the closed space constructed by the cloud may gradually separate us from other people. Information cocoons, echo chambers... We slip into a world where there are only similarities but no differences. In a world full of what philosopher Byung-Chul Han described as “the Violence of the Same”, we fall into a state of deep loneliness arising from the loss of the Other per se. We connect in the cloud, but are separated from the Other.
When will we step out of the clouds, return to earth, and dwell poetically again?