Saturday, April 30, 2016

Clouds - Bonus Blog

A few weeks ago I had the chance to attend the lecture, Do Clouds Have Meaning?  On the Relation Between Media and Nature, by Professor John Durham Peters from the University of Iowa, he was a part of the Humanities on the Edge series.  So his lecture was about clouds; at first I had no idea where he would go with this or how it had anything to do with communication.  I've always loved clouds because they can take on so many different forms and are just fascinating to me because they can be so beautiful.  But I have never thought of them in such an elaborate way as Professor Peters did.

He talked about what the taken for granted is and why we take it for granted.  Obviously most of us take the sky for granted, it is a backdrop to our everyday life.  He pointed out that clouds have a reputation of being unsubstantial and funny but they can actually mean so many things.  They are ubiquitous and mean all types of things.

He talked about clouds from a renaissance perspective; they were the first effort to represent abstraction.  People of this time painted clouds and captured meteorological weather situations way before they had photography to do so.  When looking at the history of representing clouds, there was an effort to depict white noise.  And later clouds are named and they are also a part of the history of trying to represent emotion.  

This lecture was so interesting (and a little over my head at times).  But it was great to listen and take in all of these thoughts about clouds and communication.  And at the end of the lecture Professor Peters made the statement, "Clouds are a great representation of a moment when nature and culture entangle."  I just thought this way such a cool way to look at things.

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