C/O Berlin’s exhibition wears away at the poeticism of Stieglitz’s original phrase, ‘Songs of the Sky’. The fact that when we say ‘cloud’ now, we are more likely to be speaking about ‘the’ cloud, rather than ‘a’ cloud is indicative of humankind’s changing concerns. We are turning away from the natural world with all of its soulful connotations towards a digital realm where the physical consequences of our activities are more easily hidden.
Louis Henderson’s All That is Solid (2014) exposes the neocolonial Columbian exchange that is implicit in our consumption of technology. The film overlays footage of the harsh conditions faced by electronic waste recycling workers in Accra, with Elysian corporate presentations about cloud infrastructure. The iCloud icon floats blissfully above scenes of a young Ghanaian man walking in fields of e-waste, black plumes reaching towards the sky behind him. The windows shown on Henderson’s desktop are themselves like clouds, drifting and disappearing on the sky of his screen. The neat user interface (the use of which is now so dependent on the cloud) belies the excess and dirt that facilitate the construction of these sleek aluminium totems of modern life.