We challenge you to not be impressed with Berndnaut Smilde‘s cloud works which, as he describes, exist between “reality and representation.” In this video he activates a smoke machine in the Green Room of the Veterans Building in downtown San Francisco, and the result is billowing smoke that forms luscious, cotton candy-like masses that are simultaneously building up and at the same time falling part.


Clouds can symbolize many things, and viewers naturally project onto Smilde’s creations whatever their particular thoughts about clouds might be.

Where did the artist’s interest in clouds come from? “My grandparents had an old seascape painting and I used to like that image a lot,” he explains about some of his earliest artistic memories. “It was not that big either, it was just a small painting but it was an old ship going into a really dark sea, and I think there was a storm coming up or … it just cleared up, you don’t know … and I really like that. It’s also what I like about clouds, it’s ungraspable.”

His work is defined by ephemerality, and often the only documentation that remains is in the form of a photograph.

“It’s not so much about the shape of the cloud but about placing it out of its natural context,” he says. “It brings duality, because you can’t really grasp how to interpret the situation you are viewing. People have always had strong metaphysical connections to clouds as they symbolize the ominous.”

People’s fascination with Smilde’s clouds have only increased since Time magazine listed them as one of the “Top 10 inventions of 2012.”

Berndnaut Smilde, “Nimbus Green Room” (2013) (via berndnaut.nl)

Watch Berndnuat Smilde “makes clouds” in the latest video from The Avant/Garde Diaries.

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One reply on “The Magic of Making Clouds”

  1. interesting project.. yes, clouds are fascinating, it´s the representation of a second for me where every second counts..

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