The Weather Dialogues

Film, 18:06 min.

What is actually a cloud? A physicist will give you a wildly different answer to this question than a painter. The Weather Dialogues is an art-science project about the meteorological information that is embedded within 17th century Dutch landscape paintings.

During the Little Ice Age, temperatures in Western Europe were significantly colder than in the centuries before and after. This is captured in many of the paintings from this time. 17th century Dutch landscape paintings are known for their true-to-life rendering of skies and specifically of cloud formations. Painters such as Jacob van Ruisdael, Salomon van Ruysdael and Jan van Goyen made an important contribution to documenting our climate history without realizing it. In their canvases, they mapped complex cloud, weather and atmospheric formations. Are paintings from this century, so to say, climate documents? What does it mean to perceive the sky, back then and also nowadays? And was the sky bluer in the 17th century than it is today?

These and many other questions are addressed in interviews with experts, ranging from an astrophysicist, a meteorologist as well as an artist with a background in restauration. Altogether, this creates a multi-layered narrative that highlights the transdisciplinary nature of the project.

Eline Kersten