Commissioned for the 2017 European Conference for Science Journalists at IT-University, Copenhagen, Pareidolia addresses the themes of new media, climate reporting, and responsible science communication. The exhibition is an invitation to see new faces in the clouds of rain and data that saturate our everyday lives. As we confront the urgent social need to better imagine and respond to climate change, artists and journalists have an important role to play in enabling emerging science and technology to transform our intuitive comprehension of our environment.

This exhibition showcases a provocative new artwork under development by Karolina Sobecka, Cloud Services, which proposes to use the atmosphere as an apparatus for data storage and transmission by encoding data into the genomes of bacteria that affect the weather. Addressing the potential of new computational and biotechnological practices as well as the ethical risks of experimenting with life forms and geophysical cycles, the work engages its audience in reflections on how we are altering our environments and how we should govern emerging technologies in order to use them towards desirable futures. The exhibition features a screening All That is Solid Melts into Data, by Ryan S. Jeffery and Boaz Levin, a documentary film exploring the physical infrastructures, patterns of energy consumption and socio-economic impacts of cloud computing. A live-stream of Windmap, by Hint FM, displays shifting wind patterns over the USA in real time, suggesting how data might travel if the promises of Cloud Services were realized.

Pareidolia takes advantage of the unique architectural features of the IT-University building to exhibit the flow of information through the Earth’s atmosphere. Installed in the main atrium, elevators, and classrooms, the six levels of the building are treated as layers of the atmosphere, with tree cover at ground level, artificial clouds moving up and down in the elevators, and low resolution digital screens programmed to display the Sobecka’s modified weather symbols, which indicate the data density of rain clouds.

Curated by Dehlia Hannah

June 26-29, 2017, IT-University, Copenhagen

Ryan S. Jeffrey and Boaz Levin, All That is Solid Melts into Data (2015)