The Serpentine’s third digital commission, Cloud Index, is by British artist and writer James Bridle. Cloud Index is a weather prediction model that consumes vast amounts of historic weather data from satellites and correlates it with polling data on major political events, most notably the recent EU referendum.
Bridle’s new commission for the Serpentine explores the connections between climate, behaviour and networks and uses the principles of weather divination and advanced neural networks to question our technological certainties and our democratic convictions. With Cloud Index, Bridle takes on the computing ‘cloud’ as the most pervasive and least understood metaphor of our times. Cloud Index is presented on cloudindx.com, at screens at the Serpentine Galleries, and as an online publication. Bridle profiled the project at the Miracle Marathon on 8 October at the Serpentine North Gallery.
Bridle’s work explores the many aspects of the term ‘cloud’, from modern computer networks to the English mystical tradition, from the history of weather forecasting to climate change and contemporary conspiracy fears. For Bridle, the cloud is neither a nebulous obstruction nor a dangerous abstraction, rather it represents the best model we might conceive for a contingent and entangled world.
James Bridle said, “For centuries, we’ve looked to the sky to divine the future. Today, we look to the Cloud. We have built satellites to observe the earth, and supercomputers to crunch the data. But the more information we gather, the more complexity and uncertainty we reveal, and the more societies fracture into competing fundamentalisms. In a headless age of climate collapse, post-factual discourse, and transnational extremism, how do we understand global events not as disorder, but as the unconscious outcomes of our entangled political technologies?”
Serpentine Digital Commission
The Serpentine Digital Commission is a programme that develops new digital works through a variety of emerging mediums, hosted on the Serpentine’s website, transforming the site into a new forward thinking space for exhibiting art. Each commission aims to expand how we understand the effect of digital technologies on artistic and cultural practice today.
James Bridle is a British artist and writer based in Athens, Greece. His artworks have been commissioned by galleries and institutions and exhibited worldwide as well as on the internet. His writing on literature, culture and networks has appeared in magazines and newspapers, including Wired, Domus, Cabinet, The Atlantic, New Statesman, The Guardian, Observer and many others, in print and online. He lectures regularly at conferences, universities and events. His formulation of the New Aesthetic research project has spurred debate and creative work across multiple disciplines. His work can be found at booktwo.org