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Art installation at Imperial whips up a storm

See also...
External Sites:
-Again For Tomorrow exhibition
-Christoph Keller
-Royal College of Art
(Imperial College is not responsible for the content of these external internet sites)

Friday 17 March 2006
By Abigail Smith

A piece of art that could also offer an unorthodox solution to the UK's current water shortage is on display at Imperial until 17 April.

German artist Christoph Keller's Cloudbuster Project was installed yesterday on a roof of the Blackett Laboratory, as part of the Royal College of Art's Again For Tomorrow exhibition. The installation re-enacts an invention of psychologist Wilhelm Reich that he claimed could influence the atmosphere and make clouds burst into rain.

Christoph Keller aims his Cloudbuster at the sky above Imperial

Keller, who studied physics and hydrology in his native Berlin, first unveiled Cloudbuster in New York in the spring and summer of 2003 and was attracted to the project because it unites his dual passion for science and the arts. Commenting that it is a mistake to separate the two, he said:

"Studying physics raises many questions of philosophy and there is a fascinating dialogue between the disciplines. That's why Exhibition Road is such an appropriate place for this installation - Imperial along with the museums and the RCA make it a dynamic area, all to do with where we are scientifically and culturally."

An early Freudian, Wilhelm Reich believed Freud's idea of the 'libido' was a literal energy force and in the 1930s announced his discovery of a new biological energy which he named Orgone energy. Claiming that flowing water has a positive Orgone charge, he unveiled a metal structure connected with hosepipes, believing this charge could be directed to an area of sky where it would stimulate rain.

Keller keeps an open mind on whether the experiment really works, believing that there may be room for perceiving weather in both a meteorological and a mythological way. He added:

"When I first developed this installation it was on the roof of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, where construction work was also taking place. At first the workers laughed at me - then after two weeks the work was halted because of continuous rainfall."

Cloudbuster can be viewed on the roof outside the Physics Common Room on level 8 of the Blackett Laboratory until 17 April.

The Again For Tomorrow exhibition is curated by graduating students on the RCA's Curating Contemporary Arts MA course.