CLOUD is a site-specific conceptual sculpture that participates in the changing form and locus of knowledge. On November 3, 2017 members of the Whitman community were invited to disperse the work –100 individual cast cement books – from an original point within the Penrose Library to unknown locations throughout the building’s four floors.
At first glance, CLOUD takes a static shape: 100 archetypal hardcover books, the age-old container of ideas cherished by the academy. Through public collaboration CLOUD is dissipated, and the weighty tomes are re-situated throughout the library, transforming into a diffuse and many-authored structure.
You too are invited to alter the form of the work by continuing to move the books, as you choose, around the library. Participants are asked to tag their specific book’s location with map coordinates and an image using the mobile app Instagram and the hashtag #whitmancloud. Track the movement of any particular book by clicking on its image here.
Because of its structure and mobility, the entirety of CLOUD’s whereabouts, is never immediately apparent. This “open-source” sculpture lives in eternal flux. Like other conceptual artworks, the piece functions as strongly in the mind’s eye as within literal retinal reach.
Knowledge forever evolves and morphs, manifesting orally, verbally, visually, numerically, etc. Libraries were once constructed to house and protect these vulnerable tomes. Today, they continue to hold space for attention, studying and learning, while information has been scattered to the ethers, surrounding us with its massive digital networks. CLOUD holds an obdurate and visible, material past in tension with a wildly ephemeral and invisible, present. Knowledge, a wily shape-shifter if there ever was one, resides somewhere, nowhere and everywhere at the same time.
Walla Walla, 2017