In 2030, the first human colony on Mars will be a fact if it’s up to the Dutch foundation Mars One. Four astronauts, who will receive a single journey to the red planet, will have to pull this off. Monica Alcazar-Duarte contacted four of the prospective scientists during their preparation. She presents their portraits together with images from daily life in the American borough of Mars, and an interpretation of the activities that could take place in a low orbit around the earth. The interactive installation reflects on a new phase in our exploration of space, which hopefully won’t mean a flight away from Earth but instead bring with it a new sense of solidarity.
On a hilltop in the north east of Tanzania, German colonists founded the organic-agricultural institute Amani at the start of the twentieth century. After the First World War, the British took over this colony and transformed the institute into a highly regarded research facility for malaria. In their attempts to involve the local community in their research, the scientists were faced with the diametrically opposed worldview of the villagers: for some the institute was a vision of progress, but many saw the scientists as practitioners of black magic. Over a period of two months, Evgenia Arbugaeva photographed the laboratory which is no longer in use. Through the eyes of John, the loyal laboratory assistant, she captures both the significance of his role as well as that of the institute. In doing so, she reveals the rituals and routines of a once ordered existence and its subsequent demise.
Stéphanie Borcard & Nicolas Métraux
Why is a barn owl red and a snowy owl white? And why do owlets negotiate on the next prey brought by their parents instead of fighting about it? These are just a few questions that concern evolutionary biology. With EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY, Stéphanie Borcard and Nicolas Métraux portray the work of Alexandre Roulin, one of Switzerland’s top scientists whose research is funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF). It is one of six series of a long-running commission that the SNSF provides to photographers, in order to inform a wide audience about science using an emotional and artistic approach.
For RELIQUIAE, Karin Borghouts photographed animal models, replicas, casts and specimens from different university collections. Borghouts was struck by the formal beauty of these bizarre remnants of deceased animals, which are transformed into objects of study. To take them out of their fixed context and do justice to their alienated beauty, Borghouts photographed the objects against pink, mint green and turquoise backgrounds. In doing so, Borghouts retains the remnants of an existence, and breathes life into them by awarding them the special status of artwork.
With the Apollo programme, the American space agency NASA put people on the moon six times between 1969 and 1972. The Apollo photographic archives comprise multiple images which testify to the analogue era that photography found itself in at the time. Incidental light leaks, glares on the lens, double exposures and the remnants of tape have been captured, adding mysterious and colourful effects. They give the moonscape images an earthly atmosphere, firmly anchoring the photographs in the twentieth century. In COLLECTING THE MOON, after years of researching the archives and reviewing thousands of images, Alison Carey rescues these photographs from oblivion.
Images and RAW scans courtesy of NASA/Johnson Space Center/Arizona State University, United States
In THE MODERN SPIRIT IS VIVISECTIVE, Francesca Catastini considers autopsy, the dissection of humans and animals, as a mental achievement. Texts from the seventeenth century describe the hands of the anatomist as an instrument of the physical realm, and his eyes as an instrument of a higher level. The purpose of dissection was a mental reordering. In anatomical theatres, executed criminals in particular were dissected for an educated as well as a paying audience. The theatres were set up to ensure optimal viewing. This first act of dissection was of just as much significance to man as the discovery that the earth orbits the sun. Vivisection, literally meaning the dissection of living beings, functions as a metaphor here for the human quest for knowledge and the notion of scopophilia – the feeling of lust that is connected to looking. Catastini combines found photographs with her own, ironic images into a structure of overlapping parts: about looking, feeling, cutting and discovering.
Ever since the dawn of human consciousness, man has examined his environment and asked questions. We have all looked up in the same way, seen the same stars and have asked the same question: where are we? Set against the scale of the universe, the earth is no more than a little bit of fluff. The iron in our blood, the calcium in our bones – we have the big bang to thank for it, they are the remnants of stars. Are we then the cosmos that contemplates itself as we ponder the immensity of the universe? With STARDUST, Debashish Chakrabarty offers a fictitious look at those who wonder at light and space, who are unhindered by earthly concerns of time and distance.
The title Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) identifies places in the United Kingdom that are deemed to be of special interest owing to botanical, zoological or geographic qualities. There are over six thousand of these locations in the United Kingdom. The formal notification of such a place contains that which is of special scientific interest and a map showing the location’s boundaries. In several cases, these boundaries of the SSSI are literally fenced off. Edmund Clark views taking a photograph as a mirror reflection of this, a new act of classification: the frame of the photograph gives significance to the elements arranged within it, like a cartographic border of an SSSI, and contributes to our visual knowledge.
In STARS, Ellie Davies joins photographs of ancient woods with images shot by the Hubble space telescope of the Milky Way, the nebula Omega Centauri and embryonic stars in the nebula NGC 346. By using images from one of the most advanced scientific instruments, she connects the woodlands to the mystery of the unfathomable universe. She contrasts the visceral and tactile nature of the woods, the wild places from her youth, with the sense of disconnection. Now that we only experience the landscape with the intervention of technology, there is a matter of a deep and fundamental loss of contact. This alienation separates us from a real, compelling relationship with the natural world.
Marcus DeSieno is interested in the way in which the advancement of photographic techniques changes our relationship with the natural world. In PARASITES, he explores the history of scientific research into parasitic organisms, which are photographed using a scanning electron microscope and captured on ferrotypes. Propelled by scientific curiosity, photography has developed an intriguing relationship with the invisible since the middle of the nineteenth century – a relationship that enables us to experience a world we are unable to see without aids. At the same time, DeSieno examines his personal fear of these miniscule creatures, which are shown on a massively enlarged scale.
Ny-Ålesund in Spitsbergen is the most northern civilised settlement in the world. In recent decades, this former mining village has developed into the largest existing Arctic research location. Countries including Norway, Japan, China, England and the Netherlands have a base here. Due to the scientific projects that are carried out here and the multitude of measuring equipment that is stored in the area, access to the village, which is in effect a network of laboratories and research stations, is very limited - the residents of Ny-Ålesund are mostly adventurous scientists. Anna Filipova photographed the human activity which in spite of the many regulations to protect the environment is visible through scientific installations that are gradually becoming part of the landscape.
When binoculars, microphones and telephoto lenses are insufficient for their research, ornithologists hang up some mist nets. These barely visible nets function as huge spider webs for birds. In ORNITHOLOGICAL PHOTOGRAPHS, Todd Forsgren captured the moment just before scientists took the birds out of the nets to be weighed, measured, tagged and then released again. They are short moments in which the birds look uncomfortable, scared, angry and vulnerable. The netting and the clear background evoke a scientific atmosphere; with which Forsgren raises questions concerning the logistics and ethics of nature photography.
Voor MOMENTUM reisde Alejandro Guijarro langs de kwantummechanica-afdelingen van verschillende universiteiten, waaronder Cambridge, Stanford, Berkeley en Oxford. Daar fotografeerde hij na college's op groot formaat de krijtborden, die daarna op waar formaat worden tentoongesteld. Buiten de instituties waar ze zijn ontstaan, verandert de betekenis van de formules. Wat begon als een beschrijving van het denkproces van een fysicus, krijgt door de lijnen en vormen van de vergelijkingen en formules een eigen esthetiek; de vegen van de bordwisser doen denken aan een uitgestrekt landschap. Zo evolueren de borden met exacte formules tot canvassen die vele betekenissen kunnen hebben.
The world that Lucy Helton portrays in the ACTIONS OF CONSEQUENCE consists of strange, unearthly landscapes devoid of all life. It is the future earth, where catastrophes have inevitably occurred thanks to man’s destructive and apathetic behaviour. Although some photographs are scientific images, stripped of their original purpose and context, and other photographs play with the viewer’s sense of scale, time and place, they always try to create an experience of discovery and research. The black and white images depict a world that is both frightening and beautiful, and reflect Helton’s concerns, about her own past and about the earth’s uncertain future.
Images courtesy of the Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, NASA Johnson Space Center, United States
Abbey Hepner wonders what the future has in store for us as technology infiltrates our lives on more and more levels. Using special computer vision software, a technology concerned with the automatic analysis and understanding of images, she researches how artificial intelligence interprets a series of brain scans. In OPTOGENETIC CYBERNETIC TRANSLATIONS, she places each brain scan next to the translation given by artificial intelligence. The result is a series of metaphors balancing between cognition and a world full of beautiful, or potentially frightening, phenomena. She created the work in collaboration with Mike Avery, a researcher in optogenetics, a technology that manipulates neurons in the brain using light. The work is presented in the form of lenticular 3D prints, which are interpreted differently by the viewer from each angle of view.
Ben Feringa is considered to be one of the world’s most creative chemists. With his research on molecular nanomachines he won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2016, together with Jean-Pierre Sauvage and Fraser Stoddart. In collaboration with the University of Groningen, where Feringa works as a Professor of Organic Chemistry, Jos Jansen was asked to capture the essence of Feringa’s work. He spent several months following the research carried out by Feringa’s study group, where scientists and students perform their experiments on a daily basis. The nanomachines and switches are in fact special molecules composed by the researchers in a test tube. Under a special light they start to move and behave like a miniscule motor. Feringa feels that universities should be a ‘playground’ for scientists, where they can follow their curiosity without restriction. During Noorderlicht, a scientific symposium about this research will take place in the presence of the three Nobel Laureates.
Jaakko Kahilaniemi attempts to grasp the hundred hectares of woods in his possession. For a long time he was indifferent to the plot of land, but recent explorations in the woods and in the world of forestry have stirred his interest in his unknown estate. In 100 HECTARES OF UNDERSTANDING, Kahilaniemi studies what nature has to offer the urbanised human and creates new ways to feel and experience the woods, to become familiar with the unknown. The result is a mixture of different types of photographs that collectively suggest a greater visual identity. Kahilaniemi’s photographs are testaments, traces of his desire for understanding and awareness.
Courtesy of Gallery Taik Persons, Berlin, Germany
Wanuri Kahiu's short film PUMZI – Swahili for ‘breath’ – is set in East Africa, 35 years after the Third World War broke out following an escalated conflict over water. In the post-apocalyptic reality of the film, people live in high-tech indoor communities where daily life is dictated by the water shortage. After being sent several fertile lumps of soil one day, Asha, the curator of a natural history museum, escapes from her community in search of life in the supposedly dead outside world. Her escape from the underground society symbolises the escape from all the oppressive rules and logic attempting to curb her scientific curiosity.
No matter how much we try to keep nature outdoors, insects will always find their way back indoors. In SUBURBAN SYMBIOSIS: INSECTUM DOMESTICUS, Daniel Kariko examines the expansion of the human habitat in the suburbs by means of enormous portraits of the housemates we often take no notice of. The presence of the insects is the natural by-product of our occupation of their natural habitat. Kariko composed his images from a number of recordings made by ascanning electron microscope and a stereoscopic microscope. With the right adjustment of lighting and by making use of small reflectors, Kariko achieves the portrait effect, inspired by seventeenth century Dutch master painters.
Paul Kranzler & Andrew Phelps
The Drake Equation is a mathematical formula from 1961, which calculates the chance of finding alien life. The largest radio telescopes in the world are located in Green Bank in the American state of West Virginia. To shield them from interference, the National Radio Quiet Zone was set up around it in the nineteen fifties – a sparsely populated area covering thirty thousand square kilometres. Without Wi-Fi, radio stations, telephone masts and all sorts of electromagnetic energy, this area is a tech-free zone. Paul Kranzler and Andrew Phelps photographed in Green Bank, where scientists from around the world coexist with the local population, often families who have resided here for hundreds of years living off cattle farming, hunting and the lumber mills. Those sensitive to HYPERLINK "https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electromagnetic_fields" \o "Electromagnetic fields" electromagnetic fields have also come in recent years, wishing to escape the radiation of Wi-Fi and GSM – everyone’s life here is thus determined by different codes.
CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, is one of the most advanced technological institutes in the world. Here, more than eleven thousand scientists from around the world carry out fundamental research into elementary particles. They use the largest and most complex scientific instruments that are built for this very purpose, to study the basic components of matter: the fundamental particles. The general image of CERN is one of a space station where scientists in sterile spaces are surrounded by incomprehensible technology with a high design aesthetic. However, in CERN AND THE ARTISANS OF THE UNIVERSE, Luca Locatelli captures how scientists, engineers and staff at CERN work together as though it were one large workshop, thus giving science a familiar, human appearance.
Urban agriculture is growing and becoming increasingly important in feeding the world population. Vegetables grown along the motorway, however, turn out to contain far more trace-metals than vegetables from the supermarket, bringing with it greater health risks. In Étude, Marie Lukasiewicz turns this premise around: what are the benefits of the excessive consumption of vegetables from areas with high concentrations of traffic? She presents her series in the form of a scientific research carried out at the fictional University of Kryhsk, showing spectacular consequences such as levitation and walking on water. In doing so, she raises questions concerning the legitimacy of the location of many allotment gardens belonging to ordinary people.
In search of a visual answer to the big subject matters of our time – migration, religion, urbanisation, science, health – Marcus Lyon created new visual languages and techniques in which he can communicate bigger truths. The results are landscapes without a horizon, which are constructed out of a myriad of perspectives – all recognisable, yet surprisingly new. With OPTOGENOME, Lyon explores the current state of modern laboratories, seen from both a typological as well as an emotional, contrary viewpoint. All images in OPTOGENOME were realised in collaboration with the scientists at the oncology and infection campus of the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca in the American city of Waltham, and the MRC Centre for Developmental Neurobiology at King’s College London.
Our hyper-modern world is driven by dominant technology and the belief that technological advancement is occurring so quickly that history is no longer a reliable indicator for the society of the future. In this series, David Maisel examines hot spots of science, technology and research, and determines that our living space is transformed and politicised through processes of industrialisation, geo-engineering and militarisation. Although dedicated to scientific research and technological advancement, these locations can appear strange and even dystopian. With his images, Maisel explores both the sunny side of progress and the darker sides of the human endeavours wrapped up in the large, technological experiment that is our society.
Courtesies: Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York, United States; Haines Gallery, San Francisco, United States; Ellen Miller Gallery,Boston, United States; Ivorypress Gallery, Madrid, Spain; Institute for Artist Management, Venice, United States.
Anne Arden McDonald
In ATOM/PLANET, Anne Arden McDonald explores ways to get an image onto photographic paper without using a camera or a negative. She takes her inspiration from both the dialogue of the artist with his or her material, and from scientific methods such as hypotheses and experiments. She makes partial use of well-known processes such as photograms, whereby objects are placed directly onto the photographic paper and exposed to light. But in the dark room she primarily uses an unorthodox collection of materials and techniques of domestic and scientific origin. She polishes or scrubs the photographic paper, or uses techniques to get the image onto the paper by means of evaporation. The rings, bobbles and wipe marks that appear symbolise the planets and the atoms, the macro and micro cosmos of the life that is known to us, which she manifests in this way.
In ANATOMY LESSON, for which she photographed in various museums and at anatomy, pathology and forensic institutes, Agnieszka Rayss examines our relationship with the human body and its representation. Must we always treat the body with respect, also when we need it for scientific purposes? Do we show enough respect when we preserve body parts in formalin for educational purposes? With her images, Rayss raises the question of when a body stops being a body and becomes a specimen. But also: does anatomy contain beauty? Are these objects actually science, art or both?
In her film IN THE FUTURE, THEY ATE FROM THE FINEST PORCELAIN, Larissa Sansour explores the role of myths as a replacement of history, facts and national identity. The film – a mix of archaeology, science fiction and politics – revolves around a resistance group who stocks up on large underground supplies of refined porcelain. The members’ aim is to influence history and support future claims on their disappearing country. Once unearthed, the porcelain dishes will prove the existence of a falsified people. This archaeological warfare is a desperate attempt of the resistance leader to safeguard the future of her people. It is a historical intervention, with which a nation is in effect created.
This film is a collaboration with Søren Lind (Denmark), and is part of Sansour’s sci-fi trilogy. It deals with various aspects of Palestinian identity, set against the backdrop of an apocalyptical Middle East.
The photographs in NOISES FROM THE SILENT LAND were taken in the old dioramas of the Biological Museum in Stockholm. The photographed viewing cabinets shelter the anthropocentric paradox, in which animals are our possessions and our responsibility. An artificial landscape with dead, stuffed animals, composed to nourish our love for all things living. By using the glitch technique, a stylistic device that plays with coincidental and consciously made errors in the digital image, Serinyà applies a distortion that makes the image just as flawed as the reality of that which is depicted. In doing so, he also sheds light on perception as an unconscious deed. By making the viewer aware of the social and physical constructions that we look through, the secrets of nature and technology, which are hidden in plain sight, are revealed.
David Thomas Smith
In 1974, the Arecibo message was sent into outer space from Puerto Rico to establish contact with alien life. The message with frequency modulated radio waves was sent during the reopening of the Arecibo radio telescope. With ARECIBO, David Thomas Smith pays a visual homage to this message and simultaneously reflects on the birth of humanity, our growth and our evolution. Each photograph is an image composed out of thousands of shots from Google Maps. They have been created with the most advanced techniques: satellites, airplanes and internet. The landscapes, which become distorted by natural as well as manmade light patterns, explore important moments and places in human history since our birth in Africa. Through the large format and huge amount of detail, the viewer can wander through the landscapes in awe, just as our ancestors did many years ago.
In WAYS OF KNOWING, curious outsiders are given an insight into the fascinating world of science. Stier photographed experimental set-ups in laboratories across Europe and the United States, creating bizarre images which sometimes evoke more associations with medieval torture chambers than with the quest for knowledge. He furthermore made still lives of experiments in his own studio – sometimes depicting real laws of nature, at other times springing entirely from his imagination. By mixing reality and fiction, he emphasises the similarities between the motivations and obsessions in artistic and scientific practices: both seek answers to big questions and are characterised by obsessive convictions which have led to a high degree of specialisation. WAYS OF KNOWING is a metaphor for a process of research with an open end, a feedback loop of thinking and doing, ultimately with the strong urge to order an all too complex reality.
In the first quarter of the twentieth century, Frank and Lillian Gilbreth used photographic time and motion studies to improve the performance of factory workers. A hundred years later, Clare Strand examines the behaviour and the visual identity of the post-industrial worker, taking her inspiration from the Gilbreth’s visual language. In Strand’s research, contemporary workers are fitted with special attachments and are set against grids and clocks to help the study of their productive capacity. The uneasy activities on the photographs, however, show that the modern activities we now call work are less clear and less easy to quantify than they used to be. Part of the project is the Cyclegraph series, in which she records the movements of her own hands.
Courtesy of Parrotta Contemporary Art Gallery, Cologne, Germany
Photographs played a major role in the nineteen sixties in the formation of the Uganda Cancer Institute in the Ugandan capital of Kampala. The Irish surgeon Denis Parsons Burkitt lost his right eye during an accident at the age of eleven, but compensated for this loss with his camera. He travelled across Africa to photograph children with swelling in their jaws, stomachs and legs, convinced that this was one and the same disease.
By charting the distribution area of the disease he was able to establish a connection with the pattern of malaria, which is spread by mosquitos. In 1964, it was officially named Burkitt lymphoma. The Lymphoma Treatment Center is one of the two in patient treatment facilities of the Uganda Cancer Institute that was subsequently founded in Kampala in 1967. As part of a larger project Andrea Stultiens invited John Nyende and Coleb Butungi, both medical illustrators, to make drawings of the photographs commissioned by oncologists in the late nineteen sixties of patients. The selection here shows only patients with Burkitt’s lymphoma. The translation from photograph to drawing maintains the privacy of those portrayed. It also makes it less traumatising to look at the sometimes shocking effects of the tumors on the body and takes away taboos of gender and nudity that would, specially in Uganda, make it impossible to show these photographs in public.
TERRAOPTICS is a sequel to an installation by the artist Vivan Sundaram comprising a hundred thousand potsherds from excavations at Pattanam, of the lost antique port of Muziris on the southwest coast of India that played an important role in world trade two thousand years ago. For TERRAOPTICS, he arranged the same shards in the dark room to create small sets using luminous fiber optics, each forming its own universe. It evokes the image of a prehistoric landscape, intersected by burning rivers. By using the archaeological remnants, Sundaram draws attention to the earth, which we take for granted. By illuminating the land literally and figuratively, TERRAOPTICS creates a terrestrial-optic awareness.
Courtesy of sepiaEYE, New York, United States
In POST- Maija Tammi combines three projects about (im)mortality. From her series WHITE RABBIT FEVER, she shows immortal cancer cell lines. These are derived from among others the infamous cancer cells of Henrietta Lacks, who died in 1951. Cancer cell lines, unlike most human cells, do not age, they can keep dividing endlessly. Her images and video from VOLUNTEER 4 (HYDRA) show hydras, fresh-water polyps that are five to fifteen millimeters in length and also cannot age, making them biologically immortal. If they are cut into pieces, the individual parts are able to regenerate themselves into a fully-fledged animal. In this series, Tammi embraces the concrete possibilities for eternal life and the attempts to achieve this. The portrait of the android Erica, from ONE OF THEM IS A HUMAN, offers a different view on immortality and on the human escapist desire to outwit death.
Artist Andy Thomas makes what he calls audio life forms. These three-dimensional video animations respond to sounds, which Thomas sees in his imagination as moving shapes and colours, similar to the experience of a synesthete whose one sense can influence another. VISUAL SOUNDS OF THE AMAZON shows the sounds of birds that Thomas sought out in the heart of the Amazon rainforest. They become evolved, abstract shapes in bright colours, floating, pulsating, flashing, turning, accomplished compositions of flora and fauna. Aware that many people suffer from compassion fatigue, he hopes that his work will contribute to a new engagement with the fate of this immensely diverse rainforest. In this way, he brings together two fields that are often experienced as opposites: nature and technology. The clash between both forms a statement about the impact of technology and society’s progress on the earth and its natural systems.
In collaboration with Erwin Boer, who researches the interaction between humans and robots at the TU Delft, Wanda Tuerlinckx travelled the world to capture the revolutionary developments in robotics. People see themselves best incarnated in androids, which move, feel, talk and look like humans – one day they may even have the same thoughts and emotions as humans. They are at the point of becoming integrated in all levels of our society. We look upon these developments with awe as well as with a shudder. By recording the androids onto paper negatives using a nineteenth century calotype camera, Tuerlinckx gives the robots the soft, knowing look of our great-grandfathers.
Penelope Umbrico used Flickr, a website to share photos and videos, to research how the full moon is photographed and how these images are shared. Although expensive, specialised equipment is required to take a clear, sharp photograph of a full moon, Umbrico was astonished to find that Flickr had no less than 1,146,034 identical, technically accomplished photographs, many of which paradoxically come with a copyright label. In this way, Umbrico identifies the shifts in meaning and value that occur when the individual, subjective experience of witnessing and photographing is unmasked as a collective practice, which is placed in a completely new context here. Two parts of the work are presented: Everyone’s Moon 2015-11-04 14.22.59 is a video which scrolls through the moons at a rapid pace, and Screenshot 2015-11-04 14.22.59 is an eleven-metre-long print which accompanies this.
Since 2009, Peter Voigt has been collecting vintage photographs. He now owns more than a thousand old originals depicting nuclear research, the development of the atom bomb and the United States’ first rockets. They were taken during the nineteen thirties and the nineteen seventies. They are press images, for instance, about how you can survive a nuclear attack, or photographs that national laboratories commissioned to document their activities. The childish enthusiasm and the scientific innocence displayed in the photographs can be viewed as the blueprint for contemporary scientific expeditions to unknown territories. In the current transition from paper to digital archives, many of the unique images have landed on the free market indirectly – first entire archives were sold, after which their new owners broke them down into pieces.
The dream of creating an artificial human is evident throughout the history of humanity, from the Golem, the Jewish legend of an animated anthropomorphic being and Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein from 1818 to the Maschinenmensch in the German film Metropolis from 1927. This fiction has now become a reality with the humanoid robots being built in laboratories. People also upgrade their bodies with technical implants such as microchips carrying identity details and medical files. Exoskeletons, prosthetics and virtual reality glasses are expanding our bodies’ capacities or repairing defects. In UNCANNY VALLEY, Jakob Weber portrays these people and beings, and their surroundings.
In small-town rural America, hackers are working on the fusion of man and machine. They are developing devices and gadgets to implant into their body, functioning as guinea pigs for trans-humanism: the belief that through science and technology, humanity can evolve beyond its current physical and mental constraints. Their risky experiments and strong convictions defy (medical) science as well as ethics. In GRINDERS, Hannes Wiedemann follows this American community of body-hackers. Centuries-old myths pertaining to improvements, innovation and the future are usually illustrated by the aesthetics of smooth interfaces. Wiedemann contrasts this with improvised operations, dirty interiors and ruthlessly physical photographs.
Sanne de Wilde
Pingelap is an atoll in the Pacific Ocean where an unusually large part of the population is completely colour blind. It is a popular destination for researchers. Neurologist and writer Oliver Sacks wrote a book with the same title as Sanne De Wilde’s series. On the island, De Wilde took black and white photographs as well as digital infrared photographs, which she used to challenge her own perception of colour. Back in Amsterdam, she asked people with colourblindness to colour in several of the black and white photographs. In other photographs, we see those portrayed with their eyes simultaneously open and shut, owing to slow shutter speeds, a reference to the quick blinking of their eyes under bright light. In this way, De Wilde transforms the medium of photography into a metaphor for the limits of our visual faculty.
Liam Young presents the world’s first narrative science fiction film which is entirely shot with the laser scanner technology also used for the navigation in driverless cars. WHERE THE CITY CAN’T SEE follows a group of young factory workers who spend the night cruising through a near-future Detroit in a self-driving taxi. They are looking for a rave party in a derelict factory, a place they’ve heard of, but is not recognised by the taxi. The viewer sees the story through the eyes of the robots that manage the city. The workers are part of an underground community that has developed new ways of digital camouflaging to escape the city’s surveillance system. In this way, they hack the city, in search of wilderness beyond the machine. DJ Stingray, who formerly toured with the electronic band Drexciya from Detroit, has created the soundtrack.
De Faun | CLOSED
Wayne Barrar (New Zealand, 1957) gained a Master’s degree in Design at Massey University, completed a 'Postgraduate Diploma in Fine Arts' at the University of Auckland, and is a senior university lecturer at the Whiti o Rehua School of Art in Wellington. His work has been shown in solo and group exhibitions in New Zealand, Australia, England, the United States, Singapore and Hong Kong. THE GLASS ARCHIVES was published in book form last year. Previously published photobooks include Shifting Nature (2001), An Expanding Subterra (2010) and Torbay ti Kouka (2011).
Courtesy of McNamara Gallery, Whanganui, New Zealand
Robin Alysha Clemens
OWNED BY NO ONE tells the story of a subculture that wants to protect its identity in a dystopian, late-digital era. In a world in which information is a commodity and society thrives on the destruction of privacy, identity and the ego, the members attempt to rediscover their identity in anonymity. They lead their lives under the radar, life in safe houses and only appear in public as anonymously as possible. They remove their fingerprints and wear reflective masks and special contact lenses so they can’t be detected by retinal scans. OWNED BY NO ONE shares the criticism on the digital surveillance state, but at the same time asks questions: how free can you be if you constantly have to hide yourself to maintain your privacy?
Between 1969 and 1972, six Apollo missions took 832 kilos of material from the moon back to Earth. The moon rocks were a much-loved gift from President Nixon’s administration to royal families and government leaders. However, of the 270 moon rocks that Nixon gave away, 180 are now missing. Over the years a practice of falsification, theft and extortion has arisen around the moon rocks. A moon rock given to the Netherlands has also disappeared: in 2009, the original turned out to have been swapped for a piece of petrified wood. In CHEATING THE MOON, Annabel Elgar takes on the role of detective in search of the stories around the moon rocks, in which she freely interprets the facts. Parallel to the criminal practices surrounding the moon rocks, the truth of the various locations and circumstances presented remains a mystery.
In SURVIVING HUMANITY, Alberto Giuliani examines the future of humanity. From the effects of climate change and changes in what it means to be human – be it in the form of clones, robots or supercomputers – to mass immigration and war. Regardless of what may come, experts agree that huge challenges await us in the coming decades. We’ll probably even be confronted with the threat of extinction. In eight chapters, Giuliani explores the efforts of science to formulate an answer to this, in which he also portrays the men and women who are laden with the problems of our future.
In MORPHOLOGY, Phil Hastings creates new life forms that are inspired by scientific research that took place at the end of the nineteenth, beginning of the twentieth century. He refers to the historical act of collecting and cataloging the unknown world around us, in order to better understand our significance in the universe. The process he uses to create his beings is quite similar to genetic manipulation. He approaches raw video data at its most basic level – the pixel – and manipulates and transforms these until a new life emerges in which traces of the original can be found. It is a technological as well as a sensual process, which harks back to Hastings’ sculptural training. MORPHOLOGY consists of photographs and video.
UNFOLD is a sensual experience in image and sound, inspired by cosmology and astrophysics. Ryoichi Kurokawa worked in close collaboration with Vincent Minier, an astrophysicist affiliated with the Institute of Research into the Fundamental Laws of the Universe in Paris. Kurokawa was granted full access to the institute’s scientific data, including measurements made by the Herschel space telescope and simulations carried out by supercomputers. He took his inspiration from the research into star formation and the evolution of star clusters, over a timespan of ten billion years. Thanks to his probing images, the viewer comes eye to eye with the farthest reaches of the universe and the secrets of its origin – and by extension with his own beginnings. UNFOLD.ALT is the single screen version of the UNFOLD immersive installation.
In some fields, such as genetics of meteorology, huge computer networks are delving deeper and deeper into natural systems. Both are capable of learning and adapting themselves. It therefore won’t be long until these networks find a shared interface and start to communicate. This would fundamentally change our society. We can only hope that this new consciousness will accept us as a partner and clean up the mess that we have made of our planet. It will present us with the luxury problem that we’ll have to think of a new excuse for our existence, adjust the basis of our attitudes, values and behaviour, and discover how we must grow as humans.
Courtesy of VAAL Gallery, Tallinn, Estonia
Osamu James Nakagawa & Michael Wile Hamburger
In SEISMOPHOTOGRAPHY: IMAGES OF NATURAL DISASTER, photographer James Nakagawa and geophysicist Michael Wile Hamburger examine the feelings of awe, amazement, fear and beauty in relation to the tsunami that hit the Japanese coast in 2011, a natural disaster that changed face of the earth. Nakagawa and Hamburger collaborated to create a new medium that brings together photography and seismology, two forms of visual representation of the world around us. With their seismophotography they edit the photographs that Nakagawa made after the disaster with the methods used by seismologists to record earthquakes – from the rolling movement of a pen that shoots out to digital recordings made by seismographs near the locations depicted in the photographs.
Courtesy of sepiaEYE, New York, United States
In her series ALIEN, Beatrice Pediconi explores the spiritual and transcendental qualities of water by mixing it and painting in it using oil paint. She translates scientific studies and observations in fleeting, meditative and spatial paintings, which she captures in photographs – including polaroid and pigment prints – and videos. The works that are created in this way evoke a mysterious sense of supernatural connection. They transport the viewer to a serene, alien, yet also familiar and inviting universe. Pediconi succeeds in bringing together chemistry, physics, music, photography and video into a personal vision.
Courtesy by sepiaEYE, New York, United States
Siwai is a region on the island of Bougainville, which belongs to Papua New Guinea but has an independent status. Life here is threatened by big changes in the political situation, culture and technology. Concerns are held about the erosion of traditional knowledge in an increasingly modern and globalised society. Kate Robertson captures the old knowledge of Siwai’s medicinal plants and their scientific and cultural-medicinal qualities. She works with a special photographic process: in her lumen prints the leaves are not only exposed, they also enter into a direct chemical reaction with the photographic paper. The story that flows through the veins of the leaves thus becomes a chronicle for future generations. She collaborated with the local community and their chiefs, who contributed their knowledge, to reunite with a lost tradition of medicinal herbs.
In an underground complex, buried three floors beneath the University of Texas, there is an almost inconceivable piece of technology. It’s called the Texas Petawatt Laser, which produces the most powerful laser pulse in the world – within fractions of a second the peak output is almost two thousand times greater than the whole of the United States’ electrical grid. It produces the brightest light in the entire universe. With this laser, scientists produce the dense matter found in the centres of stars, and the conditions of planetary cores can be recreated. In THE SUPERLATIVE LIGHT, Robert Shults presents the Texas Petawatt Laser drawing upon the conventions of ‘B-grade’ science fiction films. The scientists in his photographs become a group of talented, yet mortal heroes who perform work for a brilliant villain that is normally reserved for gods.
Fresh From Poland
Grazyna Siedlecka (Poland, 1985) studied at the Academy of Photography in Kraków, and Russian and Ukrainian Culture at the Uniwersytet Jagiellonski in Kraków. She is the founder of Fresh From Poland, an independent platform for contemporary Polish photography. She works as a curator, picture editor and writer. For #SHOWMEYOURUFO, Fresh From Poland collaborated with the FotoBzik Association and the Paper Beats Rock Foundation.
Fresh From Poland is an art platform created in 2014 out of the need to fill up the gap in publishing and promoting new Polish photography worldwide. Focused on exploring new trends and activities in contemporary photography organisation deliberately crosses the boundaries of the medium in its traditional meaning. Besides showcasing best examples of the photographic works platform looks into to the other art forms existing between traditional photography and disciplines such us: books, digital graphic, documentary, fashion and collage. Looking for new perspectives and introducing innovative approach Fresh From Poland aims to share works of young, yet not always well known artists with the wider, international audience and at the same time create opportunities of development. In addition to daily online publications, platform expands their activity towards organising events, exhibitions, publishing books and zines.
Curator: Grazyna Siedlecka
Artists: Tomasz Chowaniec, Dominik Darocha, Pawel Franik, Tomasz Gotfryd, Aleksandra Iwanczak, Edyta Jablonska, Ola Janczak, Jadwiga Janowska, Dorotka Kaczmarek, Kamil #2, Gabriela Kaszycka, Anna Kieblesz, Patryk Klimkowicz, Mikolaj Konkiewicz, Bart Krezolek, Karol Liver, Pawel Maruszak, Przemyslaw Matlag, Olivia Milani, Mateusz von Motz, Izabela Olesinska, Anna Osetek, Aleksandra Pawlowska, Sylwia Penc, Natalia Poniatowska, Kaja Rata, Malgorzata Sajur, Wojtek Skrzypczynski, Aleksandra Szajnecka, Kamil Sleszynski, Patrycja Wanot, Piotr Wilhelmi, Karolina Wojtas, Katarzyna Zolich
Space exploration has received renewed attention in recent years, partly through the emergence of commercial space travel. It demonstrates our innate curiosity and our desire to push the boundaries. Leaving the earth also deepens our understanding of it: who are we, where do we come from, what do we leave behind for future generations? Michael Najjar visited space ports and laboratories and met with numerous scientists and astronauts for a series that blends documentary and fictional scenarios about space exploration. His personal approach is extraordinary: Najjar booked a space flight at Virgin Galactic, in SpaceShipTwo. He’ll be the first artist in space, and is currently following an intensive training programme at space centres in Germany, Russia and the United States. From flying in a MiG-29 fighter jet in the stratosphere and zero-gravity flights to training sessions in a centrifuge, underwater space walks in a heavy space suit and a parachute jump from a height of ten thousand metres – with his camera Najjar captures the extremes he is subjected to in order to research and exemplify his own physical and mental responses.
Exhibition works courtesy the artist
Wolfgang Pauli (1900-1958) was an influential Austrian-American physicist who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1945. He was also renowned among colleagues due to the ‘Pauli effect’: the story goes that when Pauli walked into a room, experiments failed and machines broke down. Despite dying before the photographic archive of the European Organization for Nuclear Research CERN was set up, Pauli is still present in many photographs – be it as a bust or portrait, on a blackboard, or in book form. Even accidents and strange events recall his existence. David Fathi, fascinated by this juxtaposition of science and superstition, used CERN’s archive photographs, some of which are edited, to compile a scientific ghost story. Wherein art, photography, history and science clash. The mystery and humour emerge from the highly imaginative games the viewer has to participate in to distinguish between science fact and science fiction.
Michał Sita (curator) & Wiesław Rakowski
Wieslaw Rakowski (1903-1948) was a paleontologist, zoologist and the curator of the natural history museum in Poznan. He prepared, described and catalogued objects that were collected during excavations, expeditions and in Poznan zoo, and subsequently photographed them. Only a small part of Rakowski’s glass plate negatives remains from this period from 1924 to 1939, and was rediscovered in the archives of the Polish Academy of Sciences. They show stuffed animals, limbs and skulls, trophies of travels to Africa, anatomical deformities and other subjects that are relevant to a scientific collection. However, without context – Rakowski’s archiving and the scientific articles he illustrated with his photographs – the negatives merely remain a pile of surreal curiosities. Michal Sita compiled THE ZOOLOGICAL ARCHIVE from Rakowski’s photographs, and together with editor Maria Szyszkiewicz-Golis he created the book Wieslaw Rakowski – Photographs 1924-1939. The archive is managed by The Institute for Agricultural and Forest Environment (IAFE) at the Polish Academy of Sciences in Poznan.
Photographs by WiesÅaw Rakowski, curated by MichaÅ Sita. Copyright The Institute for Agricultural and Forest Environment (IAFE) of Polish Academy of Sciences, PoznaÅ, Poland
THE FAULT and A BLACK MATTER are two chapters in a trilogy about the science of matter. In THE FAULT, ‘the fracture’, Grégoire Eloy photographed the Balmuccia fault line in northwest Italy. It is a fossilized scar that is over 250 million years old. An earthquake estimated to measure six on the Richter scale caused so much friction between the rocks that the stone melted into magma. This effect is still visible, as a thin black line of mostly glass. Eloy accompanied a group of geophysicists in mapping the fracture. Areas of one square metre were marked out and indexed on the surface. Eloy photographed them and turned them into a book, which once fully laid-out becomes an exact replica of the entire fracture, on a scale of 1:10.
A BLACK MATTER depicts research being carried out in astrophysical laboratories, including into dark matter. Scientists assume that dark matter is present in large quantities in space, in order to explain the perceived trajectories of distant stars, and other objects, without compromising the theories of gravity and relativity. Eloy portrays the researchers, laboratories and instruments, and the environment in which they carry out their work.
By mixing history and premonition, memory and science fiction with synthetic biology and cybernetics, POST NATURAL HISTORY shows a collection of ‘upcoming species’, an archaeology of the future. Presented as cabinets of curiosities, with their frightening yet familiar beauty, this bestiary raises questions about our relationship with nature and technology.
THE MAN MACHINE speculates on the interaction between humans and artificial beings, such as robots, in everyday life. The staged scenes suggest both empathy with the robot as well as feeling of abhorrence, an idea inspired by the theory of the uncanny valley: the more humanoids start looking like us, the more monstrous their imperfections become to us.
With his SPACE PROJECT, Fournier mixed historical and documentary views of the great adventure in outer space with staged photographs, which are fed by memories of films from his youth. The most imaginative space centres thus become film sets where Jules Verne and Stanley Kubrick could run into each other.
EXPERIMENTAL STORYTELLING consists of framed moments in time, still lives from a fictional story about a universe that looks similar to ours, from birth to beyond death. The playful photographs, inspired by magic realism authors such as Italo Calvino and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, are packed with theories and jump through time.
For almost anything for which there is no other explanation, a reference is made to alternative universes: a déjà vu, religion – even physics. With UNCERTAIN PASSAGES, Jay Gould refers to the idea of the multiverse, which is making its ascent in modern physics. He went in search of symbolical doors through time, space, matter and other curious phenomena in order to embrace the unknown.
For EXTREME MATERIALS, Gould collaborated with scientists at the Hopkins Extreme Materials Institute (HEMI) at the University of Baltimore. Materials are developed there which could be used in a nuclear environment or to endure the impact of an asteroid. The fundamental understanding of the material properties is crucial in this. He created the photographs using the classic collodion wet plate technique, in a reference to the timeless interrelationship between photography and research.
Museum De Buitenplaats
Caleb Charland is fascinated by the simplicity of the fruit battery: by pushing a galvanised nail into one side of an orange – or another type of fruit or vegetable – and a copper wire into the other side, electricity is generated. Charland uses these fruit batteries to build light installations that illuminate themselves for the photographs of his work in progress BACK TO LIGHT. The images appeal to our sense of curiosity about how the world works and the concerns about the future of the world’s energy sources. With his photographs, Charland shows that the possibilities for alternative and sustainable energy sources are endless. In BIOGRAPHS, Charland exposes a photographic film with solid fields of colour and coated this with a nutrient source before adding bacteria. Once the bacteria had eaten their way through it, the films had transformed into abstract landscapes.
In this selection from his work, Tjibbe Hooghiemstra shows the possibilities of reading space through images. The direct and impulsive photographs show an illusion of reality and seem to function more like mental images rather than pictorial images – objectivity is hard to find. Hooghiemstra uses his camera not as a reproduction technique, but as a tool for drawing. Whether he is taking photographs during a long sea voyage on a merchant ship, in the privacy of his studio or in the hubbub of Tokyo, the photographs evoke an experience of space with a melancholic undertone.
Kahn & Selesnick
In MARS: ADRIFT ON THE HOURGLASS SEA, Nicholas Kahn and Richard Selesnick depict a collapsed civilisation on Mars. Photographic mosaics of the Martian landscape, shot during NASA expeditions, are combined with own images of the deserts in Nevada and Utah. Two women and a child are shown in desperately impractical circumstances. The photographs are simultaneously futuristic and archaic, and portray an alien world. In doing so, the British-American duo refers to societies in crisis, where big changes are on the horizon. The DIY quality and the recycled nature of the materials used nevertheless give each photograph a familiar feel. Part of the work was made in commission for NASA.
In 2013, the genetic make-up of the male Neanderthal, which became extinct 39,000 years ago, was decoded. Since then scientists have been attempting to artificially reproduce this genome in a human stem cell, which could theoretically be implanted in a surrogate mother. The rebirth of the Neanderthal is therefore a serious possibility. In her series THE MISSING LINK, Ulrike Schmitz uses this idea as a starting point for a surreal reflection on our changing place in evolutionary history, from a passive follower of nature to an active creator, in which she depicts the scientific steps involved in recreating the Neanderthal.
Annemarie van Buuren
The scientific urge to capture life led to the invention of photography as well as the establishment of zoos in Europe’s major cities. By photographing the animals and the zoos with an antique, wooden plate camera from 1880, Annemarie van Buuren shows the anachronistic character of this creation. Without what she refers to as the ‘double fetish’ of warm colours and excessive details, the raw reality of these animals’ lives becomes visible: captured behind the bars of dated, nineteenth century institutions, reduced to fairground attractions and cut off from the wilderness where they belong.
Angeline van Gent
For FUTURE FOSSILS, Angeline van Gent created her own fossils. She impressed random, everyday objects from the surrounding outdoor space into clay. As a kind of survey of the world around her, Van Gent researches, interprets and rearranges them into fossils. Without context or registration, she sends the fossils of her life to random places around the world. In this way, she raises the question of whether the world becomes clearer by looking at it as though you are not part of it.
Van Gent also tries to come to grips with the world around her in her KALEIDOSCOPE FILM. Dissecting the workings of the kaleidoscope, she attempts to mould them to her will. By joining the cogwheels of a watch to the illusion of the kaleidoscope she creates a new, almost organic order – an insight into the mystery of time or another illusion? It raises the question of whether the truth is an accumulation of the concrete, separate components, or rather the magic of the whole.
The Netherlands leads the way when it comes to new forensic methods and techniques to carry out research in criminal cases even more quickly and more advanced. But what does forensic research actually entail? Where and how are these specialists trained, and how is what is learnt practiced and then later applied at a crime scene? In FORENSICS, Jeroen Hofman maps out the broad spectrum of science and technology used in the process of establishing the truth in criminal cases – from cold cases, blood spatter analysis and offender profiles to pathological-anatomical research and DNA traces.
When it comes to the development of innovative food crops, Darwin’s process of natural selection has long been replaced by high-tech plant breeding, as Jos Jansen shows in SEEDS. But what does ‘natural’ mean in this context? Jansen focuses on the consequences of resistant food crops as a way of feeding the rapidly increasing world population. In doing so, he raises the question of whether we need to return to the authenticity of small-scale agriculture and city farming. Or is it man’s duty to steer evolution to create sufficient food to feed the exploding world population?
Anja de Jong
As a country largely below sea level, the Netherlands has endured an endless series of storm surges and floods over the years. Climate change, soil decline and rising sea levels mean that protective measures against the water still require constant reassessment, adjustment and renewal. In her work in progress MONUMENTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE, Anja de Jong shows landscapes and locations where for centuries humans have either embraced water as a friend or fought it as an enemy. Without these interventions, our lives with water – our (cultural) past and our future – are built on marshy grounds.
UNIVERSUM MMN is an intimate exploration of the unreal state Marcus Peters found himself in at the beginning of last year. Within the space of six months, all the strength flowed out of his body and Peters increasingly lost control over his body. He began to feel both physically and mentally weightless, like a shaky astronaut who after knocking into an obstacle can only move in the direction it sends him in. After numerous medical examinations, Peters was diagnosed with the rare neuromuscular disease of multifocal motor neuropathy. He collects the scans from this unfathomable universe, which evoke apparitions of living organisms, immaterial structures and imaginary means of transport. Peters rearranges them, again and again. Until he finds answers, that raise new questions.
Just like the rest of the world, the Netherlands is highly dependent on the use of phosphate in food production: it is one of the three most important ingredients in fertiliser and a primary component of animal feed. Apart from in Morocco, which has the world’s largest phosphate reserves, this mineral can only be found in several other countries – and supplies are running out worldwide. For his series PHOSPHATE, Henk Wildschut photographed phosphate mines in Morocco together with photographs of the fruits of phosphate-use in the Netherlands. In doing so, Wildschut symbolises the relationship (of dependency) between both countries.
Throughout China farmers are under the spell of one of man’s oldest desires: to be able to fly. In back gardens, they tinker with their own airplanes, with recycled materials and household tools, experimenting and unhindered by any relevant knowledge. Many of these flying machines are incredibly dangerous and barely function, other designs work so well that they are acknowledged by the professional market. However, for the creators it’s not about the money – they are simply looking for ways to fly. Xiaoxiao Xu visited eight of these airplane builders, all with completely different ways of working, and captured their innovativeness, optimism, and human warmth and courage.