The purpose of clouds in Second Life

The Purpose of Clouds

I’ve been spending time at the Visions of Art complex of late, looking at the various exhibitions by visiting and hosted artists. Curated and managed by dj12 Magic. What tends to attract me to the complex is the broad diversity of art that has been gathered in a single place, mixed both physical world artistry with that of the purely digital medium of Second Life, offering plenty of scope for me to see work by artists with whom I might not be familiar, and to at times re-acquaint myself with the work of those I know but may not have seen elsewhere for a while.

One of the artists in the former category is Paula Cloudpainter (paula31atnight). Located on the top floor of the building – appropriate, given the subject – she presents The Purpose of Clouds, a series of her physical world digital photographs of cloud formations taken at different times of the day.

The Purpose of Clouds

Transient, ever-moving at the whim of winds and air currents, there is a wonderful magic about clouds. They can flow across the sky, dappling the ground and water beneath in shadow, allow the Sun or Moon to play peek-a-boo with us – and driven by our imagination, no matter how young or old we are, they can become a thousand different things, however briefly. Looking up at them, we can see everything from grey-white towers reaching majestically into the heavens or great rolling tides of cloudy surf rolling across the sea of the sky or the most fantastic of creatures, by they from the real world or works of fiction or mythology, while towering piles of cumulonimbus can trundle across the horizon like great mobile castles on their way to war, the level reaches dark and threatening. Clouds can even, at times, mimic the look of parts of the world over which they pass, offering fleeting outlines of Great Britain here or Italy’s boot there, a Caribbean like chain of islands somewhere else…

With the canvas of the sky and the aid of the Sun, clouds can also become nature’s unique expressions of art; sky paintings in which colours become layered, and even the apparent strokes of a giant brush can be seen, as cirrus cloud vie with cumulus and alto-cumulus to form exotic landscapes in the sky. Paula captures all of this, together with the sheer grace and beauty clouds have in and of themselves, through the images she presents in The Purpose of Clouds.

The Purpose of Clouds

These are wonderful reminders of the splendour of nature; and for those willing to let their imaginations flow free, there are perhaps stories to be seen in some. Is that a ghostly bat flying out of and orange-grey sky towards us? Dos the splash of white cloud among the grey and a deep blue sky look like and exotic sea creature hugged the relative safety of a shadowed reef? As we really looking up at a roiling sky of cloud caught in the light of a setting Sun, or are we perhaps hanging above an upside-down world looking at a rolling sea turned orange by its setting Sun?

While the images are perfect for purchase and hanging at home, I couldn’t help but wish that for the purposes of the exhibition, they’d been offered in a larger size, even if that meant fewer pieces (or perhaps using a little more of the central floor space). Doing so would immediate capture the eye with their sheer beauty. Nevertheless, The Purpose of Clouds is a wonderful exhibition deserving of being seen up close, rather than through the page of a blog post.

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