Path 99 combines planetarium immersion with an enveloping electronic soundtrack, showing us how, now more than ever, it is crucial that we all have our heads in the clouds.
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Using information discarded as “invalid data” by geoscientists, media artist Grayson Cooke and composer Dugal McKinnon concoct a full spectrum audio-visual experience of a continent’s shifting weather systems in Path 99.
Geoscience Australia’s “Digital Earth Australia” satellite-imaging platform uses satellite data to track environmental change over time, employing complex algorithms to filter clouds from the data and obtain a clear picture of the Earth from 700km in space. The filmmakers have taken that rejected cloud data, animated and presented it in time-lapse format, bolstered by a multi-channel electronic soundtrack, to be projected as an immersive fulldome planetarium show.
The result is a remarkable representation of the cloud layer of Australia down Path 99, an orbit of the Landsat 8 satellite that passes directly down the centre of the country. Rendered in near-infrared and shortwave infrared light, Path 99 visualises atmospheric textures and phenomena invisible to the human eye. Roiling cloud systems, stormfronts, downpours and droughts are given life in a cinematic experience that goes beyond human perception.
At its simplest, Path 99 is an art-science project about the astounding beauty of clouds. At its most complex, an ingenious experiment and fitting tribute to the very systems that shelter our world and distribute the essentials for life across the planet. Combining the entrancing immersion of fulldome planetarium projection with a hypnotic electronic soundtrack, Cooke and McKinnon show how, now more than ever, it is crucial that we all have our heads in the clouds.