Night on the Brocken, Nicholas Alfrey

Martin John Callanan’s work engages most directly with scientific methods: his A Planetary Order (Terrestrial Cloud Globe) utilizes the complex apparatus of state-backed meteorological data collection to model a single moment in the atmospheric history of the planet. The cloud cover as recorded by six cloud-monitoring satellites is mapped on to a globe, a physical (rather than virtual) object created by means of cutting-edge digital manufacturing technology. It is the counterpart to Constable’s cloud studies for the age of IT, but whereas for Constable clouds were ‘the chief organ of sentiment’ in a picture, they can now be visualised as forming an entire global regime. The piece gains a touching, almost absurd, quality of understatement through the disparity of its unassuming physical presence and the prodigious depth and scope of the knowledge it encapsulates.

Extract from the essay Night on the Brocken, Nicholas Alfrey, to accompany the exhibition Reason and Emotion Landscape and the Contemporary Romantic, Springhornhof.

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