Tangible Cloud

Tangible Cloud gathered thirty people from different backgrounds (artists, designers, philosophers, economists, etc.) in two worksessions, which took place in May and June 2022 in Brussels. Together, they tried to imagine, through artistic practices, counter-narratives to the mainstream vision of digital: cloud computing.

A set of interviews was conducted with all participants in December 2023, follwing the worksessions, and a resitution of all the production was set in March 2023, at the KBK Gallery in Brussels.

This project was supported by ÉSA Le 75 and FRArt. It was initiated by Alex Leray, Antoine Gelgon, Romain Marula and Marianne Plano.

Counter-Narratives Worksession 18 - 21 May 2022 Green Fabric
Technological Myths Worksession 21 - 25 June 2022 Green Fabric
Tangible Cloud at KBK Exhibition 3 - 5 March 2023 Galerie KBK
Cloud Computing as Infrastructure en Seda Gürses Counter-Narratives Lecture
Infrables en The Institute for Technology in the Public InterestStevie Ango, Clyde Lepage Counter-Narratives Tangible Cloud at KBK Collective writting Performance Interview
Re-Used Infrastructure en Dennis de Bel Counter-Narratives Presentation Interview
Artistic Operating Systems
+ Digital Slöjd
en Brendan Howell Counter-Narratives Presentation Workshop Interview
Contingent Librarian en Simon Browne Counter-Narratives Presentation Interview
Life-Cycle Assessment as the Structure en Benjamin Gaulon Counter-Narratives Presentation Interview
From Appropriate Technology
to Permacomputing
en Marloes de Valk Counter-Narratives Tangible Cloud at KBK Presentation Workshop Interview

From Appropriate Technology to Permacomputing

Marloes de Valk

Presentation Workshop Interview

There is a rich diversity of terms, concepts and practices in existence, related to lowering the environmental impact of network infrastructure. In this worksession we’ll work on a mapping of these terms, through the construction of an ‘executable glossary’: a glossary in which each entry describes a term but also includes steps towards implementation. We’ll start with a brief overview of some key concepts and practices, to give an idea of the diverse thinking informing the infrastructures that are being developed, maintained and repaired. Together, we’ll add, modify, visualize and (re)structure. Instead of static definitions, we’ll try to show changes in use throughout time, what words ‘do’, including contradictions and contested meanings.

During the session we’ll stick to low-tech ways of working, using network and computing only when needed. To think through the idea of making the entries executable, we’ll look into pattern languages, through an introduction of the work of Christopher Alexander, Sara Ishikawa and Murray Silverstein (1977), and the influence their work has had on computing (the wiki for example) as well as urban planning and more. As a contrast, we’ll briefly discuss the approach to the power of language in ‘Keywords for Radicals’ by Fritsch, O’connor and Thompson (2016) which in turn builds on Raymond Williams’ ‘Keywords’ from 1976.

The outcome of the session is the start of an executable glossary in which each entry strenghens the others, together forming a strong counternarrative: alternatives are possible and already exist.

Executable Glossary The executable glossary in the making, Counter-Narratives, May 2022.

Tangible Cloud Oracle

The Tangible Cloud Oracle is a modified publication of the famous Smith-Waite Tarot cards, designed by Pamela ’Pixie’ Colman Smith (1871–1951). The cards are based on designs and ideas from the 2022 Tangible Cloud and Art Meets Radical Openness workshops in which participants created a set of cards with executable words that can help think through more sustainable artistic practices making use of tech; from hardware to software, from websites to types of services that can be run on a server. The deck brings together counter-narratives about technology in solidarity with human and non-human others.

The cards are inspired by pattern languages in the way these can form hypertexts, a network of linked ideas and practices that can inform and orient action. The oracle is a type of pattern language in a highly compressed form: a set of executable words that express practices challenging the tech industry’s master narrative of progress and innovation which results in extraction, pollution and depletion. It is a materialist approach to divination, not abstracted from, but entirely embedded in material environments and ecologies; rather than trying to capture the future through quantification and abstraction of repeating patterns, performing a repetition of the present; it attempts to actively and collectively make space for reflection on the present in order to open paths to possible futures.

Card design and text by Marloes de Valk. Coloring, design of the manual and production by Alex Leray. Box design by Muriel Gerhart. Riso Printing by Ronan Deriez. Typeface: Basteleur by Keussel Studio (SIL Open Font License).

Copyleft (CC4r) Brussels, March 2023. The sources can be found here.

Tangible Cloud Oracle Tangible Cloud Oracle, Tangible Cloud at KBK, March 2023.

Tangible Cloud Oracle Tangible Cloud Oracle, Tangible Cloud at KBK, March 2023.

Tangible Cloud Oracle Tangible Cloud Oracle, full set of cards.


Marloes de Valk is a software artist and writer in the post-despair stage of coping with the threat of global warming and being spied on by the devices surrounding her. Surprised by the obsessive dedication with which we, even post-Snowden, share intimate details about ourselves to an often not too clearly defined group of others, astounded by the deafening noise we generate while socializing with the technology around us, she is looking to better understand why.

She has a strong interest in Free/Libre/Open Source Software, free culture, art and technology. She is a thesis supervisor at the master Experimental Publishing at Piet Zwart Institute in Rotterdam and a PhD researcher at the Centre for the Study of the Networked Image at London South Bank University, in collaboration with The Photographer’s Gallery, looking into the material impact of the networked image on the climate crisis.

Parer à l’imprésentable fr Adrien Payet Counter-Narratives Lecture Interview
Mining the Cloud en Sofia Boschat-Thorez Counter-Narratives Presentation Interview
Impacts environnementaux du numérique
+ Métaphores visuelles et enjeux de matérialité
fr Thomas Thibault Counter-Narratives Presentation Workshop Interview
The Magical Relation to AI or
How to Live With Technical Alienation
en Tyler Reigeluth Technological Myths Presentation Interview
Perception as infrastructure,
the case of computer vision
en Nicolas Malevé Technological Myths Presentation Interview
Everyone everywhere all at once
+ Be? Here? Now?
en Dasha Ilina Technological Myths Tangible Cloud at KBK Presentation Workshop Interview
Atlas of the Cloud
+ World Brain
fr Stéphane Degoutin Technological Myths Presentation Projection Interview
Unfuck Nature with a Click:
Green Tech, Smart, Porn, & a bunch
of Technosolutionism
en Davide Bevilacqua Technological Myths Lecture Interview
Plonger dans la machine fr Lionel Maes Technological Myths Lecture Interview
Nuage Sensible fr Élie Bolard Technological Myths Tangible Cloud at KBK Presentation Workshop Interview
A Traversal Network
of Feminist Servers
en Wendy Van WynsbergheMartino Morandi Counter-Narratives Presentation Interview