Berndnaut Smilde can turn a clear sky cloudy — and he can do it all indoors. With the help of a smoke machine, a touch of moisture, and a healthy dose of dramatic lighting, he transforms chapels and contemporary galleries into meteorological wonders. Smilde makes and photographs smoke art clouds. Yes, that is a thing.
Playing on a theme of temporality, Smilde captures his clouds’ tenuous existence on film just instants before they collapse.
It looks like you can dive into them or grab them, but they just fall apart. There’s a duality that I really like where you’re trying to achieve this ideal thing that then collapses just moments later.
For me, Smilde’s project conjures a lesson I learned during my 10 years in New York – to not only accept but to also expect the sensations of impermanent states of being.
Like the dispersion of clouds across a sunset horizon, minutes and months quickly fade into memories. It is comforting to know we can recreate some precious moments if we really want to. Even if just for an instant, even in environments where we originally did not experience them.