The Movement of Clouds Around
In the late 1920s, the Japanese physicist Masanao Abe built an observatory with a view of Mount Fuji. From this site, over the course of 15 years, he recorded the clouds that surrounded the mountain. He was interested in the scientific question of how the air currents around Fuji could be visualised by means of film and photography. Albeit unintentionally, Abe’s motifs fit into a long iconographic tradition: the mountain and the clouds. For decades, his archive was left untouched in a Tokyo garden shed. Helmut Völter, who discovered Abe’s legacy while working on his book Cloud Studies, sifted through the images of the passionate cineaste, who compiled and understood the combination of still images, moving pictures and stereo recordings as the ideal form of scientific evidence. The mere contemplation of these dynamic cloud photographs centring on snow-covered Fuji seems to lift the viewer into the air – an effect that this vastly proportioned, stunningly realised volume perpetuates en-masse.