The Origin of Clouds


Alejandro Borsani

The Origin of Clouds derives from an experiment to study the formation of clouds that appeared within the larger context of weather phenomena research at the end of the nineteenth century. The Cloud Chamber or Camera Nebulosa was originally built to create artificial clouds in the laboratory and investigate their emergence in the atmosphere. The experiment failed in explaining this phenomenon and was never able to provide a better understanding of clouds, storms or lighting as originally intended. However, the Camera Nebulosa made an unexpected discovery by enabling the visualization of fundamental particles for the first time. This “accident” became the visual proof of the existence of the sub atomic world and had a profound influence in the research of atomic energy.
The experiment recreated in The Origin of the Clouds, uses saturated fumes of isopropyl alcohol that lied over a frozen plate inside a sealed glass chamber. The alcohol forms a thing layer over the cooled surface, and with the help of a strong source of light, different elemental particles start to emerge. These particles – muons and electrons – are a consequence of Cosmic Rays originating in the sun and outside the solar system. The average speed of these particles is 299.400 km/s (almost the speed of light). The Origin of Clouds documents the process by which the abstract and ineffable phenomenon of light becomes form and shape, and is used as a medium for artistic creation.

Alejandro Borsani is an Argentinean artist and educator that explores the intersection of natural and artificial systems by creating videos, installations, sculptures, custom software and electronics. His works have been shown internationally, including the Museum of Modern Art (Buenos Aires); Metropolitan Art Preview Buenos Aires-Berlin (Berlin); Centro Hipermediático Experimental Latinoamericano (cheLA), Buenos Aires, Argentina; Gallery 400, Chicago, IL; Centro Cultural Borges, Buenos Aires, Argentina; Albany Underground Artists – Athletic Annex Exhibition, Albany, NY; Center for PostNatural History; SIGGRAPH 2012; Sachaka Gallery, Tarapoto, Perú; 14th Biennial Symposium for Arts and Technology; Currents 2014 – The Santa Fe International New Media Festival. Currently he is Assistant Professor of Foundation Studies at the Rhode Island School of Design.

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