Artist Projects

The Matter of Air

Karolina Sobecka

‘If I can explain clouds, I can explain everything,’ said Descartes, invoking not only the complexity of atmospheric physics but also the intricacy of their operation on us: simultaneously banal and wondrous, familiar and ungraspable; a backdrop to our lives and a fundamentally unpredictable chaotic system.

Following Descartes, The Matter of Air takes up clouds as an object-to-think-with while delving into an investigation of the present notions of nature intertwined with social and technological systems, of atmospheric disruption, and of science as able to understand, predict, model and perhaps even control the climate.

The investigation is carried out through projects which range from deploying tactical devices for modifying the atmosphere, to constructing a socio-technological apparatus as a tool for a new vision, to using synthetic biology to probe the equivalence of the infosphere and the biosphere, to designing practices for employing body and senses in regulated athleticism that trains us for the climate transformation and the acute uncertainties associated with it.

Project Updates

  • 2015: Picture Sky is organized in Tel Aviv by the Print Screen Festival. The crowd-sourced image of the sky over Tel Aviv is created for the 300-year anniversary of the Holon municipality.

  • 2015: Puff is presented in the exhibition BREATHE at the WMO for the opening evening of the High Level Assembly of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants, which is taking place during the World Health Assembly. The exhibition has been developed to stimulate reflections on the importance of addressing air pollution, health and climate change.

  • 2015: Sobecka is awarded the Ars Bioarctica residency at the bio station in Finnish Lapland to develop the next project in the series, Cloud Services.

  • 2014: Sobecka presents all the projects in the series created so far in a solo exhibition at ZERO1 titled The Cloud Collection.

  • 2014: Cloud Tasting of local clouds is organized for the Climate Engineering Conference in Berlin. Sobecka presents her work in a special session, and is a panelist for the “Climate Engineering in popular culture” panel.

  • 2014: Cloud Tasting of the local clouds is organized for the opening of Strange Weather exhibition at the Science Gallery in Dublin. Thinking Like a Cloud is presented in the exhibition.

  • 2014: Thinking Like a Cloud is presented at the National Museum of China in an exhibition Thingworld.

  • 2014: In the “Cloud Observation Workshop” participants learn how to do a ground-truth observation of the clouds, create a crowdsourced picture of the sky and practice of extracting the essential from the accidental.

  • 2013: The project Clouds from both sides is presented in the New Ways of Seeing Data for the Marfa Dialogues in New York City.

  • 2015: Picture Sky is presented in the exhibition Infosphere, part of the Globale framework at ZKM.

  • 2015: Picture Sky is organized in Mexico City and presented for the Transition Festival and Exhibition.

  • 2013: Sobecka begins a new portion of Amateur Human during the Field_Notes – Deep Time art&science field laboratory organized by the Finnish Society of Bioart at the Kilpisjärvi Biological Station in Lapland, Finland. The local sub-Arctic nature, ecology, and geology, as well as the scientific environment and infrastructure of the Kilpisjärvi Biological Station will act as a catalyst for the work carried out.

  • 2013: Sobecka presents Cloud Machines at ZERO1 Garage, a public hearing, presentation, balloon launch and workshop

  • 2013: A personal device for Thinking Like a Cloud, is presented in the exhibition Sky++ at the Goethe Institute in Hong Kong in April

  • 2012: The Cloud Machine, a device in Sobecka’s The Matter of Air series, is commissioned by the V2_ Institute for Unstable Media for the exhibition Speculative Realities. An e-book of interviews with artists and thinkers is released as part of the programme.

  • 2010: Sobecka presents elements of The Matter of Air at the World Maker Faire in New York City

  • 2010: Sobecka presents elements of The Matter of Air at the Article 2010 Festival in Stavanger, Norway

  • 2010: Sobecka completes prototype for the Puff device