Above Ground Level: 79 km: Lead Cloud

Vancouver (2019)                  

Sara Stevens
Fionn Byrne
Scott Sørli


See episodes here: 
18 km
79 km
408 km
35 786 km

The second episode occurs in the ionosphere, 79 km above ground level. Lead Cloud investigates inequalities in the global supply chain—specifically disparities between sites of resource extraction and consumption—and how these are reflected in the ionosphere. 

The ionosphere is charged by solar and cosmic radiation which is ideal for reflecting and transmitting radio-based communications. From Earth, this results in radio stations used for transmitting codes to spies internationally, known as shortwave radio stations.
Governments have been attempting to bio-hack this ecology in order to increase their signal strength by artificially ionizing the atmosphere (see: Russia’s Sura Ionospheric Heating Facility.) 

In 2021, a group of e-waste workers in China transgress the state’s military-surveillance complex by sending miniature lead machines into the atmosphere, creating lead clouds. The lead cloud’s components are assembled from 12 mg of lead picked from a common cell phone, ineffective and undetectable as individual constituents, but capable of changing an ecology as an assemblage. 

By blocking solar waves, lead machines are able to scatter ionized clouds—thereby decreasing the state’s signal strength.The lead clouds reclaim sites of extraction and waste by displacing lead 79 km into the ionosphere, where global power operates
discretely.Every eleven years at the solar maximum, the cloud components transition into a vertical position in order to allow naturally occurring high solar flares to interrupt radio service.

Canadian Architect Student Award of Excellence Nomination 
Abraham Rogatnick Book Prize Recipient
Faculty Project Selection, Graduate Thesis Show

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