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From weather data to art


Biometric Pressure (2008)
Biometric Pressure (2008)

Cheryl Santa Maria, staff writer

November 19, 2011 — Artist uses weather data to create complex sculptures and musical scores.

Solar Beginnings of Everything that Changes (2008)
Solar Beginnings of Everything that Changes (2008)

For the past 11 years Nathalie Miebach has been seeing data in 3-D.

With the help of a simple basket-weaving technique, the Boston-based artist transforms graphs, charts and other pieces of information into colourful forms. She hopes that her focus on weather data will provide new ways to interpret atmospheric conditions - and help her gain a better understanding of climate change.

It can take up to a year-and-a-half to complete a project. Information is collected using basic equipment found in a hardware store and compared to satellite images, historical data and local weather forecasts. It's a hands-on process - and one that Miebach prefers to conduct on-site.

“There’s a real advantage to collecting data [in person],” Miebach tells The Weather Network. “That’s because a large part of weather observation happens peripherally.”

It’s these “peripheral” elements - like the smell of the rain, the cloud patterns and the debris that washes up on shore – that give Miebach a better understanding of the interactions between weather and the environment.

Every coloured bead and woven cord in an installation represents a unique weather element that can also be read as a musical note. Miebach – who collaborates with musicians to create musical scores from the collected data – first became interested in turning information into art while studying astronomy: “I would go into these lecture halls and they would show images projected on a flat screen. It was frustrating for me, because they didn't give me a clear sense of what 'space' really is, in a physical sense,” she says.

Temporal Warmth (2008)
Temporal Warmth (2008)

Her fascination with the weather was cemented in 2005, during a 14-month stay in Cape Cod. The coastal environment, with its offshore breezes and unpredictable weather, served as an inspiration for many of her pieces.

“During my time [in Cape Cod], I realized that weather is an endless form of information, and that's how I got hooked on it,” she says.

Miebach has studied moon cycles in the Antarctic, changing tides in the Boston Harbour, and marine environments in the Gulf of Maine, but she's most fascinated with the “extremes and variables” of stormy weather.

“I set out to turn data into a 3-D format as a way for me to understand it,” she says, “[but] what I love about [my] work is that it challenges assumptions of what belongs in the world of science and what belongs in the world of art.”

To view more of Miebach's work, visit: http://www.nathaliemiebach.com/.

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