The public art project “CLOUDS” takes place in January 2016 on the grounds on the south side of the Alte Pinakothek art museum. During the sculptural performance happening, Philipp Messner transforms three ordinary snow cannons – like those used in Alpine skiing regions to simulate natural snow – into giant “spray cans”. By adding food colouring to the cannons’ water flow, he creates colourful artificial snow that spreads layers of crystalline colour over this central location in Munich’s Kunstareal (“art district”).
The three snow cannons are installed on the extensive lawns between Munich University of Television and Film (HFF) and the Alte Pinakothek at the end of the first week in January 2016 and remain there until the start of February. Operation of the cannons depends on the weather, as they require temperatures of -3 °C and lower. Whether these conditions will occur – and if so, when – is as unpredictable as the sculptural forms that the expanses and mounds of coloured snow will take after the desired interactions with the public have left their mark.
The concept behind these “picturesque” snowscapes examines our perceptions of what is artificial and what is real, of spatial and material considerations. The coloured snow is a simulacrum that references the artificial nature of its underlying material, mapping its method of production. Viewers can easily see for themselves that the snow is artificial, a mere surrogate of nature. This clarity of visual expression is both a comment on, and a deconstruction of what we perceive as the natural world around us – both as a general phenomenon and, more specifically, in Alpine skiing regions. Its artificiality is rendered visible by our active intervention and shifting perception, creating an area that has real existence yet is abstract. The viewer is invited to enter the space in both a physical and reflective sense.
Philipp Messner, born in Bolzano in 1975, lives and works in Munich.