Ask The Clouds

Cloud computing becomes tangible with these dream-like Whispering Clouds

Fluffy Sculpture Network Reinvisions Cloud Communication

Cloud computing becomes tangible with these dream-like Whispering Clouds
by Charlie Stephens
PFSK, TECHNOLOGY

New social technologies help you link up with other people in your city, but what about connecting with the environment? Whispering Clouds is a set of digital clouds that light up and hang over a city, displaying messages and encouraging people to interact with each other and their physical surroundings. The clouds encourage people to play within the urban environment and create new ways of communicating in public spaces.

The sculptures will be suspended between buildings or set in open public spaces, where they can receive and display text messages from passersby. They are the physical manifestations of the digital ‘cloud,’ and they repurpose digital communications in a creative, interactive way.

Created by artist and researcher Tine Bech, the design concept is part of the Playable City Award shortlist, and is trying to reframe the way we think about our cities. Technology has become an integral part of the city experience, but Whispering Clouds uncovers the foundations of our online-oriented world. Bech explains to PSFK:

What happens in your phone is very hidden, but nevertheless we connect with a lot of people. Whispering Clouds makes you look up, it makes you connect in a different way to the place your in, the environment your in by having a very big, cartoon kind of invitation for play.

In addition to connecting people within communities, Bech envisions a network of clouds that crosses city lines. The clouds can communicate with each other using different “color hierarchies” and “color coding” that will share ideas and feelings between people of different areas. Interactive games and inter-cloud interviews will take place, and after a certain hour messages will go unfiltered.

The concept falls within an emerging and exciting art category. Whispering clouds utilizes modern technology to inspire traditional ways of interacting—that is, face to face. Bech comments on the project’s artistic qualities:
It’s a difference experience of art or interactivity than standing and gazing at a painting in a gallery—it’s at the other end of the spectrum. I think technology has allowed us to change that. It has allowed us to change the urban experience as well.
The way we live in our cities is rapidly changing, and a physical ‘cloud’ network may encourage urbanites to find a digital-physical balance in their everyday life.