Marie-Luce Nadal is a fascinating Paris-based scientist whose quirky projects involve capturing real clouds in a tank and taming flies. She weaves the logic of science with a love for art, proposing a unique form of poetic exploration.
Marie-Luce Nadal—a graduate of architecture and scenography and a Palais de Tokyo artist—first entered the world of science with an internship at the prestigious Pierre and Marie Curie University. The DNA studies conducted required that an abundance of flies be used for experiments, but this sparked a surprisingly heartwarming emotional attachment.
“I wanted to give these flies a second chance at life. Rather than raising them to be killed, like guinea pigs, I wanted to save and train them to become domestic. Training them is a form of freedom,” she said. “All they need is sugar, water, and lots of love. This way, they can live for up to five weeks.”
“In total, there are ten fly-taming professionals that I’ve trained in the world. But tamed flies are not for sale. They’re only to give away for adoption and not just to anyone—the fly must want to go to them. I set up at the Marché Aux Oiseaux (the bird market) in Île de la Cité and let the flies choose who they wanted to go [with]. It was very respectful.”
As intriguing as taming flies sounds, this is not the bulk of her work. She works mainly with clouds, but ideas around control are a constant theme. “I explore the human obsession for controlling the environment. The more you seek out something that can’t be seized, the more it flees. I put things in a box to show what cannot be contained.” She delights in chasing after what can’t be caught, like in her project La Fabrique de Nuages (Cloud Factory).
Over the course of her travels, Nadal developed a system that allowed her to catch real particles of clouds and electric residues of thunderstorms and reduce their ephemeral essence to chemical extracts. The aim was to be able to reproduce these illusive, vaporous formations at will.
“I find it fascinating that clouds are always present but only certain conditions permit us to see them. You never see a cloud in birth or death, they’re either there or they’re not.”
Nadal’s fascination for the delicate line between what can be captured and what can’t—whether through the eye’s perception, or captured in a tank—is what filters through in her project Eolorium.
She made an aquarium for clouds, mapping the wanderings of the atmosphere using 3D printing, so you can glimpse its geological essence and understand its evolution.
In her project Faire Pleurer les Nuages (Making Clouds Cry), she manufactures a crossbow weapon that shoots a special cocktail of scientifically crafted substances into the air. The aim is to cause a poetic downpour of tears. “To make a cloud cry, you need a moment of friction. But the fight is in vain, like the battle between the day and the night—there will never be a winner.”
Her family history of vineyard farming is what feeds this inspiration, having observed her grandfather’s practice of weather modification known as “cloud seeding” from a young age. The explosive practice of firing substances into the air is generally a way to increase precipitation by altering the microphysical processes within the cloud. “It’s terrifying, but magic!”
Always entangled in empathetic concerns—as was the case with the flies—she points out that clouds are always in movement, which means that the act of shooting at one cloud to create rain is an act of consciously helping your neighbor. “It’s like holding up an umbrella for another person. You’re helping your neighbor out, and you must never break the chain.”
Marie-Luce Nadal is currently visiting Moscow to exhibit at the 7th Moscow International Biennale of Contemporary Art.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.