Cloud Reserve Wadden Sea

Cloud Reserve Wadden Sea

Bart Bomas – In collaboration with Jan de Graaf & Jeroen van Westen – May 2018

Spring 2018. Bart Bomas’ initiative titled Cloud Reserve crosses the path also called Wadgasten/Wetland Wanderers initiated by Jeroen van Westen and Jan de Graaf. On this crossroads a new project was started: Cloud Reserve Wadden Sea.

The project
The project is: to explore the possibility of “installing” a temporary ‘Cloud Reserve’ as a vertical extension of the Wadden Sea in 2019, this sea since 2009 being a transnational NL – DE – DK – UNESCO World Heritage, which status was extended in 2014. This geographic differentiation of the unique concept Cloud Reserve, a virtual dome in the sky (or a continuation of domes), will be called Cloud Reserve Wadden Sea.

A cloud reserve is a transnational air space evocating the cloud mass to attract attention to the significance, benefit and inevitability of clouds. Being carefully selected, our Reserve is just made for the observation of the eleven cloud genera. A reward will be the manifestation of ‘the big five’: Cumulonimbus calvi, Altocumulus lenticularis, Altocumulus fluctus, Asperitas and the Horseshoe cloud.

Now assume that ‘Cloud Reserve Wadden Sea’ becomes an installation shaped like a dome, flattened or not. We would be able to observe within its globular inner space something like the Dutch Light and regional variations such as the German Light, the Danish Light, and in the far distance the British Light and the Norwegian Light as well as, even farther away, the Northern Light. These diverse light genres add color to the passing “water” – to wetland-wandering rain, snow and fog in all different shapes and volumes, now saturated by Atlantic bacteria, then by Cariban microbes and, not to forget, always tasting of the silt of the ocean.

The project’s purpose
The Wadgasten/Wetland Wanderers project corresponds with UNESCO’s mission “to stimulate the intellectual dimension of travel” at the Wadden Sea. This agrees with our ‘Cloud Reserve Wadden Sea’ intention to create awareness of the cloud sky as a splendid and enriching spectacle specific for time and location.

The project’s purpose is to enhance the appreciation of the atmosphere as a part of UNESCO World Heritage Wadden Sea. Carefully selected experiments for observations in specific locations will be activated.
The installation of ‘Cloud Reserve Wadden Sea’ will be realized knowing that the partnering with UNESCO World Heritage serves educational, scientific and cultural purposes including the culture of curiosity. The Reserve will provide opportunities to better explore the Wadden Sea’s distinguished educational feature–“better” because so far the official UNESCO file of World Heritage Wadden Sea describes this seascape only as a flattened, wafer-thin, watery layer of the earth only 30 meter thick: from 15 meter above NAP to 15 meter below NAP.
‘Cloud Reserve Wadden Sea’ is a double-edged geography recognized as an extension by UNESCO as well as authorized by the Cloud Appreciation Society.

Cloud Reserve
Cloud Reserve is rather ephemeral and geographically short-lived. Its spatial dimensions change and are just as virtual as for instance the space inside the Karman Line at 100 km above the earth. Temporally seen, too, it is ephemeral: the Reserve exists only during the time a person indeed observes it. Now and then the Reserve is occupied; clouds pay their respects, roam around for a bit, dissolve, disperse, or disappear from the scene and leave the Reserve empty.

Cloud Reserve is an ironic name. A winking toponymical. Clouds do not allow people to lock them up in a reserve surrounded by human desires. They come and go. The good thing about the name is: it makes one curious, not at least because it is a tantalizing name. The atmosphere is a collective goods and a “shared breathing space,” to use philosopher Peter Sloterdijk’s words. We may not notice, but our breathing space is being subdivided and privatized. Geo engineers and climate engineers claim certain zones for the production of rain, winds or sunshine; they make eyes to receive a go-ahead for their experimental manipulations “to solve the climate problems.” CO2 and bacteria and smog smother life; snow-filled and water-filled clouds put a vitalizing downpour into the hydro cycle. Clouds are supplying warmth to the earth, but what exactly is their role? Are those free-flowing and quiet clouds as innocent as they look? Cloud Reserve put these and similar inconvenient themes on its agenda.

Cloud Reserve: dimensions
Installing Cloud Reserve must be seen as a virtual project. We announce this Reserve and because we do, indeed it exists. Each cloud reserve has its own more or less unchangeable formula, a circle or rather a dome with a 350 km radius—this number a first suggestion. The best and most unique areas to spot (specific) cloud genera may be promoted by the Cloud Appreciation Society to the status of “official Reserve.” A dome (or a series of domes) clouding the Wadden is just made to receive promotion fast.

Our goal: to create a chain of observation points just for one day. Each observatory is the center of its own dome. Therefore, the Reserve does not recognize a definite and singular center; there are many centers and they are different. From each observation point a theoretical dome with a radius of 350 km can be appointed, and a smaller dome will be defined by what from the chosen location, on the specific day and a certain (changeable) time, can in effect be seen of the atmosphere. These elements together create a scala of cloud domes to be assembled to one huge observation space.

Cloud Reserve: program
The question is: can we mobilize a “movement” that helps putting this desired upward extension of UNESCO World Heritage Wadden on the public agenda? Which observation areas are best for an installation? What about sizes, precise locations, the essence of a Cloud Reserve? Will a well-chosen observatory promote knowledge tourism? Not too many will show up, we hope. Which projects came before ours? Unkai Terrace Japan: “You will see before you a vast panorama of the ever-changing Unkai (Sea of Clouds) and the mountains of Hidaka and Tokach.” One more example: the Cloud Bar at Anderby Creek, Lincolnshire, UK.

More for the program: a catalogue of ‘cloud works’ that managed to connect earth-locked locations with a nephological meaning. For instance: Celestial Vault by James Turrell; the cloud mirror of Anish Kapoor; or Jan Fabre’s cloud-measuring man keeping guard in the Belgian coastal town Oostende.

How to make relevant measuring studies for ‘Cloud Reserve’ subject to a public discourse? Questions such as: “What are relevant spatial borderlines?” What is a feasible diameter? 700 km? Which form to use for a shape on the ground? A dome up at 350 km? Which altitudes are preferable? 10 km and just below the commercial flight paths? Or, is 100 km (Karman’s Line) preferable, because there it is space travel? Or, do we choose for Bomas’ reasoned level of 350 km or the altitude of the International Space Station (circling astronaut André Kuipers’ line)?

Other questions: Can we appoint a cloud reserve from a central location in the Wadden? If so, where? On Helgoland or on Terschelling? And: What will we call our cloud reserve? Sky Park? In analogy of National Park? But for the time being ‘Cloud Reserve’ has preference also because the title appeals to our fantasies, our curiosity.

Cloud Reserve: action and date
The actual installation date will be March 21, 2019 (or a date very close), which is Howard’s Day, the 155th anniversary of the death of Luke Howard (1772-1864), the man who came up with the cloud nomenclature. Whatever the date will be, 2019 is an extraordinary year because the Wadden Sea celebrates its 10th anniversary as a UNESCO site. Once installed, Cloud Reserve will be a spatial entity on a special location that may be just a temporary environment existing by the whims of the viewer.

Agenda 2018-2019
Three actions are planned. (1) Bart Bomas is talking since May 2018 with Gavin Pretor Pinney, chair of the Cloud Appreciation Society. Together, they are working on the establishment of an International Cloud Appreciation Day (in place of Howard’s Day). (2) Work is being done on an interactive map-making project to include the 100 (?) best locations on earth to watch clouds. (3) Because ‘Cloud Reserve’ is still an eccentric idea, a concept and possibly a bizarre one, the project needs further specification; it needs deep thought.

But first we are looking for advice from experts who can help us enrich our concept Cloud Reserve Wadden Sea. Hopefully they can support us voluntarily and maybe some can even jump on our wagon. Later, on March 23, 2019, we need folks to assist with the actual installation of the Reserve, one day’s work.

Please note
We understand that a UNESCO World Heritage extension leads to a re-nomination. No sinecure. This may be just a little less complicated than defining a new era as is the case today for the Anthropocene, but hardly less easy. There is no clear roadmap to help us reach a UNESCO extension. It is a mud race with obstacles. Border guards from the worlds of science, politics or supposed title can put a halt to our progress. Understandable: so much is at stake. Therefore we first concentrate on the intellectual exercise of creating an extension on paper, an imaginary extension. The installation of ‘Cloud Reserve Wadden Sea’ is a pilot project. What will be the benefit of such vertical extension? Just more volume to the world heritage, or will we really see a gain? This is a project in line with what used to be beautifully called: ‘experimental philosophy’.

Cloud Reserve Wadden Sea is supported by Maarten de Kroon.

For more information or questions:

Appendix: Probe
There is a different route: a probe. Not just a vertical upward extension, for IMRAMA strives to a descending extension of UNESCO World Heritage Wadden Sea as well – a “volcanological” approach. This is a separate enterprise: looking through ‘Vlieland’s volcano’ along the antipode to the other side of the earth past traces of oil and gas, the earth’s heat sources, magnetism, tectonic forces, radio-activity. Once back at the surface, somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, a new view will open: Antipodes Island. And as a consequence this island as a part of the Antipodes Archipelago will become, just like the Wadden Sea, a UNESCO World Heritage Site under a cloud reserve dome. Better even, as a consequence this cloud reserve should be a reversed dome or atmosphere; everything is reversed for the people of the Antipodes, isn’t it? Their world is upside down, dixit Ptolemeus. Imagine… at ‘Cloud Reserve Antipodes Island’ the cloud refuge reaches the infinite and embraces the cosmic clouds as well. And the cloud observer has his or her feet solidly planted inside the upside-down dome. Podes comes from the Greek word ‘poús’, foot, doesn’t it?

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