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September 15, 2022

ISTA Researchers produce clouds at the Vienna Design Week

Photos of clouds, that were sent to a cloud server, fog up the room in an art project

Clouds Shutterstock 1922062610
Stormy job. Yi-Ling Hwong from the Institute of Science and Technology Austria and her colleagues study clouds using image data from all over the world. © Shutterstock

Research meets art – ISTA curator Mia Meus, cloud researcher Yi-Ling Hwong and physician Andrea Stoellner from the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (ISTA) participate in the Vienna Design Week from the 16th to the 25th of September. With their cloud machine, they connect Citizen Science with Design in this big group project, and as a result bring awareness to the advancing climate crisis among other things.

How does cloud research actually work? A curious look at the sky is one of the most important building blocks: what does a cloud look like, how does it change over time, and how does it behave? PHD student Andrea Stoellner and Postdoc researcher Yi-Ling Hwong from the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (ISTA) deal with clouds on various scales, from the smallest components and forces to the fields of clouds that stretch around the globe. Clouds are among the most ubiquitous yet widely un-researched formations in our atmosphere. Seemingly light, soft and volatile individual creations, they are actually a complex network consisting of drops and particles, that can weigh several million tons all together. They stretch out over landscapes, even continents, so that researchers around the world look up to the sky together, to document their shape, behavior, and effect on our rapidly changing climate.

Guests make Science

With the Art project “Cloud Campaign“, the project team would like to direct the public eye to these clouds. They motivate the audience with a modified “cloud server“ in the middle of the room to participate in the observation and collection of potential data. Guests share photos taken from their phones of the sky above Vienna and send them to the server. The server reacts to this and recreates a cloud in the showroom that the guests can literally dive into. This is how the project connects basic research in climate science, as it is done at ISTA, with the participatory aspects of Citizen Science

Cloud researcher Hwong: “It amuses me again and again, when I tell friends and relatives that I research clouds. The first reaction that I get usually refers to the IT-infrastructure and not the actual clouds. My personal wish for the project is that it inspires people to consciously observe the beauty of complex cloud formations.”

Playful Learning

The project aims to create an extensive dataset in a playful way, while also recreating traditional practices of cloud observation with modern means, to give the audience a new way to access cloud research. At the Panel-Talk “Design ßà Science“ on September 17th in the “Haus der Begegnung“ in the Königsegggasse 10, 1060 Vienna, the ISTA researchers exchange information with Viennese artists from 15:30 onwards about mutual influences and synergies from research and science.

Artistic Cooperation ISTA cooperates repeatedly with the international artist scene. Last June Professor Michael Sixt cooperated with the “Museum für angewandte Kunst” as a part of the exhibition: “ENTANGLED RELATIONS – ANIMATED BODIES“ in Milan. “Our goal as a research institute is to be even more closely networked with the Viennese and also the international creative scene in order to establish ourselves as an inspiring collaboration partner in the long term,” explains Mia Meus, Science Curator at ISTA. “There are so many unbelievable ideas that come to life at our institute, that are just waiting to be put to use and to be given a platform! Designers and artists are fantastic partners for this. And exciting news for all fans of the arts: Institute of Science and Technology Austria is writing its first own Artist Residency.”

Location: The Cloudserver/the cloud machine can be found at Rahlgasse 8 in 1060 Vienna from the 16th until the 25th of September daily between 11:00 und 20:00.

Yi-Ling Hwong is an IST-BRIDGE fellow funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 101034413.


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