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CLOUD

for the Ballston Business Improvement District Ballston, VA (2014)

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A constellation of 50 cloudlets that made up the Cloud, a networked sculpture that brings together technology and the arts for an interactive, community-created experience, transformed a central space of Welburn Square in Ballston, Virginia. The cloudlets emit light and sound in response to light and sound generated by other cloudlets, people, and the environment. Each cloudlet’s aluminum honeycomb and acrylic vessel contains a Raspberry Pi microcomputer, light sensors, microphone, multi-color LEDs, and a small speaker. These components are driven by a custom version of Virginia Tech’s Pd-L2Ork open source software for audio, video, and graphics processing.

Cloud reflects the urban park context in which it exists. On one hand, it is unobtrusive by design. The sounds it emits of water, crickets, birds, and wind chimes are what one might hear in a park. On the other hand, it asserts its presence by being an active participant in the making of an urban space. Those who decide to pay attention or come knowing about the artwork make intellectual and emotional connections to the cloudlets that others will not, perhaps not unlike the ways in which unsuspecting people or places were discovered by nineteenth–century flâneurs.