Land of Cloud is a world far beyond our own, with plants that extend around us forming a lush canopy against a luminous purple sky. It is available as part of the Unchartered Territories–ImmersiVR, a VR rental platform from InVR by the Synthesis Gallery. This virtual reality work was produced by Thiel during an artist residency with Google Tilt Brush in 2017.
In an interview with EASTEAST, Thiel revealed her connection to the work of her German father, an architect. Fascinated with the flow between physical spaces, Thiel takes advantage of the boundless physical realm that can be created using New Media techniques. The Tilt Brush technology also enabled her to explore traditional art forms such as Japanese brush painting and calligraphy, which her mother, an accomplished calligrapher, taught her as a girl.
In this video demonstration, you can see how Thiel created the forest scenery for Land of Cloud. The artist engages her entire body to produce broad gestural strokes. Trees flow above the body, in wiry, curved shapes that defy gravity. The leaves resemble palms or bamboo shoots that gently drape down over the viewer. The plants look otherworldly, gesturing to a realm that is beyond earthly possibilities.
The digital space in Land of Cloud is filled with ghostly, white ‘deities’. Haunting whispering sounds become more audible as the viewer draws near. Listening closely reveals that these are quotes from the 2016 US electoral debates. Trump and Clinton alternately whisper their campaign slogans. The feminine and masculine voices contrast, one cooperative, the other militant. For all their differences, the similar core of the messages is also highlighted which creates a disturbing sense of synchronicity. The whispers are parroted variations on the American Dream, claiming we can work hard and succeed-whatever our circumstances. In 2021, this reality feels further from our grasp than ever before.
The ‘cloud’ referenced in the title invokes a sense of the sky and heavenly bodies while also reminding us of The Cloud, a data realm beyond our tangible reach. We are all wired in, worshipping public figures we have no physical connection to. The translucent figures sit in familiar poses, heads weighed down with ‘text-neck’ and gazes fixed on their devices. Even in the heavenly realm of paradise, there is an odd interiority, no matter the environment, figures become absorbed into the digital.