Dutch artist Berndnaut Smilde is interested in the ephemeral — impermanent states of being which he documents through photographs. For Nimbus II, he used a smoke machine, combined with moisture and dramatic lighting to create a hovering indoor cloud in the empty setting of a sixteenth-century chapel in Hoorn, a small town in Holland. “I imagined walking into a museum hall with just empty walls. The place even looked deserted. On the one hand I wanted to create an ominous situation. You could see the cloud as a sign of misfortune. You could also read it as an element out of the Dutch landscape paintings in a physical form in a classical museum hall.” He also stated that, “‘the idea I had was going to be an ephemeral work. It would only exist as a photo. I thought this would work very well with
the idea of probe, as the exhibitions only exist in the form of documentation. I didn’t realize there is in fact a very physical aspect about probe’s presentation. the 9 different perspectives of documentation make it possible for the spectator to wander around the space and create the opportunity of visiting the exhibition. therefore with every shoot we had to make a new cloud and keep in account approximately the same lighting and position to create the illusion of physically walking through the space.’
But the few people who have seen the clouds in person would consider themselves very lucky. Each cloud only exists for a moment before dissipating. The photograph, Smilde says, is a ‘document’, the only proof of its existence if a viewer misses it.
The first exhibit featuring indoor clouds, called Nimbus, was created by Smilde in 2010.