Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Fanastic in the Fine Arts: Berndnaut Smilde's "Nimbus"

Even in nature, where we expect to find them, clouds can be fantastic things.  They can change the weather in almost an instant, they take many different shapes, and they provide a canvas for our imaginations.

But when clouds are brought inside--now, that's even more magical.  And that's exactly what Amsterdam-based artist Berndnaut Smilde did for the online gallery Probe with the installation entitled "Nimbus."  Using a combination of moisture, smoke, and various arrangements of lighting, Smilde created clouds that float through interior spaces.

You can find photos of this work online at Probe, along with comments from Smilde about the creation of the work.  I was particularly intrigued by this description of Smilde's interests and their implications:

"Berndnaut is fascinated by anything in between. Corridors and clouds, not yet there and not yet solid. What if a sculpture were to be nothing but thin air, smoke or scent?"

The interstitiality of Smilde's work is fascinating, as is the idea of intentionally creating works of art that are ephemeral.  It reminds me of William Gibson's Agrippa, a book that started to disappear as soon as it was opened.  In many ways, though, this ephemerality is at the heart of fantasy.  The inability to pin something down, to say, "Yes, this is exactly what this is," is what imbues the genre with such potential and what keeps us coming back again and again.

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