Cloud Fossil

An augmented reality installation which attempts to spatialise the machine vision as a ‘geology’ of site development.

Through their interactions and dislocation between device and surface, each visitor shapes a gradually fossilizing data record of the movement on the site, co-produced with the exposed inner-workings of computer vision and the debris of its algorithmic processes.

A geological totem is built from the sticky pixel rubble of object recognition and image segmentation.

Cloud Fossil is first encountered as a reflective, slightly oil-slick coloured cylinder, standing on the concrete pad in the centre of the site. Each phone camera looking out registers the presence of people and their movement. Initially these are detected as boxes or ‘haars’— simple edge forms.

These then bloom into particles on the surface and gradually drift upward, floating and sedimenting into the slow-setting rocks above you..

The process of collecting and aggregating data, and gradually ‘fossilising’ it, is a collaboration between human action and machine vision. It reveals the contemporary digital city as an ecology of information in which computer vision is creating a vast and unordered sediment of digital memory.

Human and machine are co-producers of a digital fossil record which ultimately reaches beyond either of them to create its own inhuman temporality.

The interior of Cloud Fossil viewed through AR