David  Behrman

with Robert Watts and Bob Diamond

Cloud Music

in April 2013, the original Cloud Music installation was acquired into the permanent collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington. The piece is on display in the Lincoln Gallery of the Modern and Contemporary Art section of the museum.

(1974 — 1979)


poster by William Farley (1977)


Cloud Music consists of a video camera that scans the sky, a specialized video analyzer that reads changes of light in the camera's field of view, and a custom-designed music synthesizer that takes signals from the video analyzer and generates six audio channels. Real-time changes in cloud formations are translated into shifting harmonic textures. Two video monitors and six loudspeakers allow viewers to experience the installation's ongoing operation.

The acquisition of Cloud Music is part of the Smithsonian's Film and Media Arts Initiative, reflecting the institution's commitment to the collection and research of innovative media works. John Hanhardt, Senior Curator of Film and Media Arts is leading this initiative with Michael Mansfield, Associate Curator of Film and Media Arts. 

Cloud Music was collaboratively developed by the three artists in the Nineteen Seventies. In 1979 it was featured in the Whitney Museum's exhibition Re-visions: Projects and Proposals in Film and Video, curated by John Hanhardt. It was also briefly shown in galleries and museums in San Francisco, Berlin, Linz and Toronto.

Robert Watts (1923-1988) was a key figure in the expanding experimental intermedia arts beginning in the early 1960s. He participated in every major art movement of his time from Neo-Dada and Pop to Conceptual and Postmodern art. He was a central figure in the Fluxus movement and a virtuoso of nontraditional materials. Watts’s extensive oeuvre includes innovations in sculpture, photography, film, sound and performance. His works have been exhibited in many major exhibitions and are included in numerous museum and private collections. The Robert Watts Estate is co-directed by Larry Miller and Sara Seagull, NYC.

Bob Diamond is an artist/mathematician/technologist who worked at NASA while collaborating with artists Tony Martin and Morton Subotnick on their "Wild Bull" performances and in the design of the Electric Circus in NYC. Bob went on to work with Nam June Paik at the Experimental TV Center and as artist-in-residence at WNET's TV Lab, created video synthesizers and tools for artists that were used in production of Sesame Street and the Electric Company. He created the ExtendSim simulation software used globally by P&G, Boeing, and many Fortune 500 companies, and recently received an Emmy award for his invention of the Video Repositioner, a device that allows movement of pre-recorded video in a scene.

photos by Michael Mansfield


current installation in the Lincoln Gallery at the Smithsonian


video analyzer, 1976


music synthesizer, 1976

Links to further information on Smithsonian Museum websites:

 Eye Level: Cloudsourcing