words Beatrice Galilee
Text messages containing musings, greetings, comments and questions have been projected into plumes of artificial smoke as part of a public art project in front of London’s National Gallery. Memory Cloud, which took place last weekend, was an installation in Trafalgar Square by London-based art and architecture studio Minimaforms, which describes it as a work of ephemeral architecture and public art. The project intends to create an interaction between a 5,000-year-old kind of communication – smoke signals – and a new one, SMS.
Around 1500 texts were sent to the project, which took place on the three nights between 8 and 10 October. “People use it in all kinds of ways,” partner Theo Spyropoulos explains. “Some respond to what they are seeing, often they are sending personal messages to loved ones, people in war. We had eight marriage proposals on Friday. Two accepted.”
Minimaforms first created the project two years ago, but this was the first time they have used in a public space and this one was particularly significant. “Historically Trafalgar square is one of the main public spaces in London that people use express themselves for various issues,” says Spyropoulos. “Trafalgar square seemed the most appropriate in terms of having collective, participatory, ephemeral architecture.”
Some might not consider this a work of building, as the project is made up of just a few smoke machines and a projector, but the idea was to create a more direct engagement between the public and the square. “It’s the base minimum in terms of a physical intervention but has quite a big impact,” Spyropoulos says. “The most interesting part was to see the playfulness and collective experience that you have through art. The tools take something we take for granted every day – a much more visual and performative way.”
top image Valerie Bennett
Rafael Contreras Morales