Philipp Schmitt

Sympoietic System I

Custom Software, Weather Data, Sky, Microphone, Camera. Variable dimensions and duration.
Exhibition Preview

Our expectations of artificial intelligence are drawn from our expectations of ourselves as autonomous, thinking agents. But we're social beings, making worlds by interacting with one another, with objects, and with systems. Dempster and Haraway have called this "sympoiesis," or "making-together." In Philipp Schmitt’s “Sympoietic System,” the weather becomes curator for an art exhibition, alluding to a wealth of world-making networks — weather and climate, computation, and aesthetics — that are intertwined and influencing each other.

The work is site-specific to Harvard Art Museum's Lightbox Gallery, located right under the museum's glass roof and overseeing the building's courtyard. Using weather data and a camera feed of the sky above, a custom software continuously selects works from the museum's collections. Artworks are presented on a digital display, as the color of the sky outside tints the naturally-lighted gallery. A contact microphone attached to the glass roof creates a subtle soundscape meandering between inside and outdoors.


Commissioned by metaLAB at Harvard for the exhibition Curatorial A[i]gents at Harvard Art Museum. Scheduled for Apr–May 2020, postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.