Juan Hein – Clouds and Bombs

2020 / 1st edition
Disko Bay
25 x 20 cm, 44 pages
ISBN 978-87-970520-6-8

The project is about the state of the photographic medium now and our relationship with it. It is playing with questions about the original and the copy, the truth and the lie in a photographic image, the action by nature and the human action. Specifically, it is a series of images in black and white of clouds and bomb explosions which are taken, appropriated, re-photographed from the internet, reframed, and manipulated until they arrived at an organic sculptural gas form that could be read as a cloud or a bomb explosion, without any text explaining what we are looking at. Almost as abstract etching drawings with a photographic echo that fascinates and frightens at the same time.


We, humans, have a special connection to clouds. We seem to recognise everything from faces to rearing horses reflected in these formations in the sky. But certain clouds signify something different than a mere approaching rainstorm or a vivid imagination. Those are the kind of clouds that are shaped by destruction, the kind that are pulled upwards and bloom like a mushroom after a nuclear detonation, or furiously rise over an erupting volcano and become terrifying epitomes of nature’s immense powers.
Juan Hein has turned his fascination towards the realm of technology, mining the digital cloud instead of seeking clouds in the sky. He peers into a vast body of information and images, and captures and re-photographs what he finds most interesting. He chooses the motif, he enlarges it, crops it and digitally manipulates it. This process stretches the final image into something in between an almost classical etching, with strong sculptural aspects, and a deliberately pixelated digital meta-reality. By doing this, Hein points to the very origin of the picture – historically, technically and conceptually. In the age of fake news, the book is asking one simple question; is what you see true or false?


Noi umani abbiamo un legame speciale con le nuvole. In queste formazioni nel cielo ci sembra di riconoscere di tutto, dai volti, ai cavalli impennati. Talune nuvole, però, sottendono a qualcosa di diverso da una mera tempesta di pioggia o da una vivida immaginazione. Si tratta delle nuvole foggiate dalla distruzione, quelle che si innalzano e si aprono come un fungo dopo una deflagrazione nucleare, o si sollevano con violenza sopra un vulcano in eruzione e diventano terrificanti epitomi degli immensi poteri della natura.
Juan Hein ha volto il suo interesse verso la tecnologia, cercando nella nuvola digitale e non nel cielo. Scruta in un vasto corpo di informazioni e immagini, e cattura e ri-fotografa ciò che trova più interessante. Sceglie il motivo, lo ingrandisce, lo ritaglia e lo manipola digitalmente. Questo processo porta l’immagine finale in una via di mezzo tra un’incisione quasi classica, con forti aspetti scultorei, e una meta-realtà digitale volutamente pixelata. In questo modo, Hein punta all’origine stessa dell’immagine – storicamente, tecnicamente e concettualmente. Nell’era delle notizie false, il libro pone una semplice domanda: quanto vediamo è vero o falso?