Berndnaut Smilde’s Nimbus – What are his clouds all about?

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Berndnaut Smilde - ICONOCLOUDS, 2013, Commission for Harpers Bazaar, Karl Lagerfeld, photo Simon Procter
Berndnaut SmildeICONOCLOUDS, 2013, Commission for Harpers Bazaar, Karl Lagerfeld
Photo: Simon Procter

Published: January 25, 2017

Last updated:

Introduction

Dutch artist Berndnaut Smilde effortlessly creates fluffy, unusual, yet perfect clouds in different indoor locations. For several years, he has practised this and created a series named Nimbus.

Clouds & their different meanings

Smilde makes his art possible with the use of smoke, air, light or water. Through the entire world, the presence of clouds often comes with different meanings which mostly fall within the range of misfortune, heavy rainfall or simply a blemish on a perfectly clear and bright day. Smilde however, has chosen to disregard all these negative connotations and make them into a form of entertainment. Since 2010, he has perfected the art of changing the weather conditions of an indoor space and make clouds appear in the least expected spaces.

How are the clouds created?

It is a task that requires elaborate planning and preparation and consists of taking control of the temperature and weather elements of the space he wants to create his work. The humidity of the space has to be controlled while constantly increasing the moisture content of the air in the space. The lighting is then adjusted to create a realistic and dramatic effect. With the right conditions, the fog machine releases a heavy and damp dense mist which looks just like a real life cloud in the sky.

Analysis

Nimbus is a project that brings to the fore the idea of creating clouds in spaces that are not supposed to contain clouds so spectators can give such occurrence different meanings and often take places in spaces like elevators, balconies, corridors, and staircases. His clouds can be quite threatening and ominous and still bring a strange serenity with them even though they are out of place. This conflicting notion is what makes Smilde’s work unique.

Conclusion

Not many people have seen Smilde’s work live as the clouds only last as much as ten seconds which is just about enough time to get photographed. The clouds do not exist for long and having them in photographs is the only way to prove that they ever existed and the fact that the images of the artwork brings reality and representation to fusion makes the work of art even more special.

Photos

Berndnaut Smilde - Waterschei, 2014
Berndnaut SmildeWaterschei, 2014

Berndnaut Smilde - Nimbus, 2010, Cloud in room, Digital C-type Print, 75x112 cm, Probe#6, Suze May Sho, Arnhem, Netherlands
Berndnaut SmildeNimbus, 2010, Cloud in room, Digital C-type Print, 75×112 cm, Probe#6, Suze May Sho, Arnhem, Netherlands

Berndnaut Smilde - Nimbus, 2013, Photo Michael Holly
Berndnaut SmildeNimbus, 2013
Photo: Michael Holly

Berndnaut Smilde - Nimbus Sankt Peter, 2014, Digital C-type Print, 75 x 109 : 125 x 181 cm, Sankt Peter Kunst-Station, Cologne, photo Cassander Eeftinck Schattenkerk
Berndnaut SmildeNimbus Sankt Peter, 2014, Digital C-type Print, 75 x 109 : 125 x 181 cm, Sankt Peter Kunst-Station, Cologne
Photo: Cassander Eeftinck Schattenkerk

Berndnaut Smilde - Nimbus Portland Place, 2014
Berndnaut SmildeNimbus Portland Place, 2014

Berndnaut Smilde - Nimbus NP3, 2012, digital C-type print on dibond
Berndnaut SmildeNimbus NP3, 2012, digital C-type print on dibond

Berndnaut Smilde - Nimbus Munnekeholm
Berndnaut SmildeNimbus Munnekeholm

Berndnaut Smilde - Nimbus LOT, 2013
Berndnaut SmildeNimbus LOT, 2013

Berndnaut Smilde - Nimbus II, 2012, Digital C-type Print, 75x112 cm, Hotel MariaKapel, Hoorn, photo Cassander Eeftinck Schattenkerk
Berndnaut SmildeNimbus II, 2012, Digital C-type Print, 75×112 cm, Hotel MariaKapel, Hoorn
Photo: Cassander Eeftinck Schattenkerk

Berndnaut Smilde - Nimbus Green Room, 2013
Berndnaut SmildeNimbus Green Room, 2013

Berndnaut Smilde - Nimbus Green Room, 2013, digital C-type print on dibond
Berndnaut SmildeNimbus Green Room, 2013

Berndnaut Smilde - Nimbus Dumont, 2014, Digital C-type Print, 75 x 110 : 125 x 184 cm, Minebuilding Waterschei, Genk, photo Cassander Eeftinck, Schattenkerk
Berndnaut SmildeNimbus Dumont, 2014, Digital C-type Print, 75 x 110 : 125 x 184 cm, Minebuilding Waterschei, Genk
Photo: Cassander Eeftinck, Schattenkerk

Berndnaut Smilde - Nimbus Duguan Himalayas Museum, 2015, Digital c-type print, framed, 150 x 220 cm, photo Nina Chen
Berndnaut SmildeNimbus Duguan Himalayas Museum, 2015, Digital c-type print, framed, 150 x 220 cm
Photo: Nina Chen

Berndnaut-Smilde-Nimbus-DAspremont-2012
Berndnaut SmildeNimbus Daspremont, 2012

Berndnaut Smilde - Nimbus Cukurcuma Hamam I, 2012, digital c-type print on dibond
Berndnaut SmildeNimbus Cukurcuma Hamam I, 2012

Berndnaut Smilde - Nimbus Cukurcuma Hamam II, 2012
Berndnaut SmildeNimbus Cukurcuma Hamam II, 2012

Berndnaut Smilde - Nimbus Bonnefanten, 2013, digital c-type print on aluminium
Berndnaut SmildeNimbus Bonnefanten, 2013

Berndnaut Smilde - Nimbus Atlas, 2015, LIAN Art Space, Shanghai 2
Berndnaut SmildeNimbus Atlas, 2015, LIAN Art Space, Shanghai, China

Berndnaut Smilde - Nimbus Atlas, 2015, LIAN Art Space, Shanghai 1
Berndnaut SmildeNimbus Atlas, 2015, LIAN Art Space, Shanghai, China

All images by Berndnaut Smilde/berndnaut.nl unless otherwise noted.

Video: Interview with Berndnaut Smilde, 2014

4min 16sec

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