Artist Michael Asbill’s multi-media installation The Cloud was commissioned by The Dorsky Museum for the 2011 exhibition Linking Collections, Building Connections. Asbill selected over 40 artworks from the collections of the Hudson Valley Visual Art Collections Consortium (HVVACC) and arranged them in a loosely triangular composition over a magnified detail of sky with clouds from a painting by Albert Bierstadt. While made up of only a fraction of the stream of images that inform our understanding of the Hudson Valley, Asbill’s installation signaled a combination of curatorial intervention and the encyclopedic knowledge of museum collections managers to produce a symbolic study of the hundreds of art collections databases now available via the internet. Offering multiple modes of interaction between visitors and the work, The Cloud conveyed visual meaning as dynamic rather than fixed.
In the artist’s words:
"The cloud image that gives form to the constellation of artworks stretching across the wall is taken from an Albert Bierstadt painting. Creating a backdrop from a Hudson River School painting is a way of acknowledging that America’s first non-indigenous art movement was born right here in the Hudson Valley. The cloud has also become a metaphor for the most up-to-date form of digital data management. This cloud is wired with two computer stations that allow viewers to search the HVVACC image database.
The Cloud was blown up from a small image that was downloaded from the Internet. It was scaled up to 29 x 18 feet with eight pixels per linear foot. The effect from a distance is that of a massive but legible, pixilated but painterly cloud. Up close, it is a reductionist grid of sky colors."
Michael Asbill is an installation and public artist, independent curator, and arts advocate who lives and works in Accord, New York. He directs CHRCH Project Space in Cottekill, N.Y., is a core contributor to the arts collective Habitat for Artists, and is a founding member of Mettacamp, an arts and agriculture community dedicated to sustainable living and the arts.