New Romanticism and The Technological Sublime

The current political, environmental and social climate of war, terrorism and global warming has led to a desire for safety, the perception being that this might be acquired, for instance, through inspiring and lyrical art in the guise of Neo-Romanticic vocabulary (in the same way that Avatar offers the spectator an alternative world).

De Wilde presents with “Clouds” an observation, but also a concern for the environment and damage to eco-systems (analogue and digital) through his representations of landscape compositions of clouds, and their narratives. De Wilde develops a poetic yet provocative counter-world, and devises a new relationship between the individual, the natural and digital environment (e.g. for instance; we are now also invaded by clouds digital: call “cloud” a virtual space where to store and exchange files; a tag-cloud is, however, a cloud of keywords where you’ll never find the tag you are looking for …).


De Wilde, just like Turner (1), demonstrates the impossibility of truly capturing a cloud as we perceive it; instead, he depicts the feeling of atmospheres, the feeling of a changing ‘climate’, unrest, turmoil and manipulation. Nevertheless, “Clouds”  is the work of the mind. Its scenery is built up as much from strata of memory as from layers of rock or (corrupted-)data. De Wilde offers us the cathartic potential of resolution and redemption instead of Avatar’s proposal of avoidance and distraction.

* ‘Clouds’ are part of the series PixLdr1ftr (2016)


  1. Turner charts the changes in clouds and atmosphere, thereby offering glimpses of the hyperobject climate change. This is partly what Ruskin had in mind when he cited Turner in his lecture on “The Storm-Cloud of the Nineteenth Century.” Ruskin, that is, traced England’s changing climate across Turner’s body of work, just as we can read the Romantic’s emergent awareness of climate change in their depictions of clouds.

Ref: Romantic Sustainability: Endurance and the Natural World, 1780–1830. Editor Ben P. Robertson, Lexington Books, 2016.

Ref: Ideal Worlds: New Romanticism In Contemporary Art, Hatje Cantz Publishers; Bilingual edition (July 15, 2005)