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Project Nimbus Projects Images from Airplane onto Clouds

by John Thomas
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These days, everybody stores their videos “in the cloud.” Now some clever folks in the UK are actually projecting video on real clouds.

project_nimbus_2zoom in

Recently, on the clouds floating over Nottingham, England, residents saw the spooky green image of a man riding a horse in the night sky. The images were projected onto the clouds from a Cesna 172 which was carrying a laser-enhanced version of a very early cinema camera called a zoopraxiscope, which was a simple rotating disc through which light was flashed to simulate movement. (It was developed by photographer/cinema pioneer Eadweard Muybridge, whose subject was often racehorses, hence the choice of what to project.)

project_nimbus_3zoom in

Appropriately dubbed Project Nimbus, it was started by artist Dave Lynch in 2007, who got the inspiration when he read an academic paper during his graduate studies that detailed efforts by the U.S government to develop ways to project images onto clouds that would frighten their enemies.

project_nimbus_1zoom in

Lynch, however, wants to achieve delight, not fright. According to Lynch, “We specifically stayed away from commercial requests to keep the clouds a sacred space, away from logos and social media stunts, which many are pursuing. We all have a relationship to the clouds, the sense of looking up and dreaming, we hope Project Nimbus inspires people to believe in big ideas and consider that through collaboration we can all push the boundaries of what we know.”

The video of Lynch’s projection onto the clouds shows a lot of potential (and might actually be pretty scary for a kid to see from his bedroom window), but I will say that his desire to keep his technology away from corporate concerns seems pretty naive. As this technology gets sharper and more precise, I can guarantee you that you will begin to see giant corporate logos dancing all over the clouds.

[via New Scientist via Gizmodo UK]

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Comments are closed for posts older than 90 days.

Comments (1):

  1. Dave Lynch says:

    Hi,

    Thanks for the article, its good, just to clarify, of course we knew that commercial application of this is inevitable, its already been happening, the idea of advertising on clouds stems from 1889 by Jules Verne. There are plenty of instances of where logos have already been projected on the clouds. The reason its not everywhere is due to the specific conditions needed.

    Over the course of the 3 years, We turned down many a commercial venture to give the first projection on clouds from aircraft the genuine purpose of inspiring people to believe that big ideas can be achieved through the collaboration of different disciplines and through looking back in technological history can result in innovation.

    By sharing ideas and technology open source (ours soon to be released) over seeking financial gain from commercial realms is a rewarding way of working and that the process is as important as the results. The original idea behind the technology was to give artists, activists and others the power to subvert, comment and use this cloud projection technology for artistic pursuits so that when the inevitable cloud projections happen, we have the power to fight back.

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