Cloud of Petals

Cloud of Petals

Kogan, Gene | 2016



Sarah Meyohas is a visual artist working across media. For her project Cloud of Petals, she staged a performance at the site of the former Bell Labs. Sixteen workers photographed 100,000 individual rose petals, compiling a massive dataset. This information was used to map out an artificial intelligence algorithm that learned to generate new, unique petals forever. The performance resulted in a film, six gaze-based virtual reality experiences, and a series of sculptures, presented during a large-scale solo exhibition at Red Bull Arts New York. The Cloud of Petals exhibition becomes a site for contemplation about a post-human reality and the future of labor in the face of automation. The film has been screened at various festivals, including the Minneapolis St Paul International Film Festival, Slamdance, NY Times Talks, CogX, and the Locarno Film Festival. Previously, her 2015 cryptocurrency Bitchcoin and Stock Performance at 303 Gallery have also explored networks of information, power, value, and communication. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, Wired, Vice, Fortune, Nowness, The Atlantic and she appeared on the cover of the 20th-anniversary edition of Flaunt Magazine. She has appeared on CNBC, PBS, and CBC, and was listed on Forbes 30 Under 30 and Cultured 30 Under 35. Meyohas holds a B.A. in international relations from the University of Pennsylvania and a B.S. in finance from the Wharton School. In 2015 she received an M.F.A. from Yale University.

French-American artist Sarah Meyohas explores our perception of beauty through bringing together nature and technology for her 2016 installation, Cloud of Petals. The project saw sixteen men undertake the painstaking process of manually picking petals over the course of four days that they considered most beautiful to be photographed and digitised. 100,000 rose petals were pressed, photographed and uploaded to the cloud. This special cut of a longer 16mm film ties together the expansive range of media the project covers—from photography and sculpture to digital files. Read more on NOWNESS -

Meyohas on her AI artwork Cloud of Petals:

Petals cannot digitize themselves. Human hands must individually open the flower, pick the petal, place it under the lens, press the shutter, and upload the image to the cloud. Then again, and again, and again. Computers document the signals generated by humans. When computers were human, they were often women.  In August, 10,000 roses were placed in the atrium of Bell Works. The work of photographing the individual petals and turning them into a dataset was performed by sixteen men. The photographs, a sequence of petals, reenact the rose. Beauty compels the act of replication.  The workers set aside the petals they considered most beautiful which were pressed to create a physical subset. The transmission of an understanding lies latent in the aesthetic choice — the decisive moment.  Glass exists simply not to exist. The impartial mechanics of the camera allow the petals, from which electronic pulses detach, to convert and converge as pixels, bits of color. Messages come in and out of the theater of digits.