Musée Magazine No. 14

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Cover Image: Shamus Clisset, Builder Destroy (Acid God), 2014.






















































































E D I TO R ’ S L E T T E R

b y An d re a Bl a nch

The thought of doing a Science issue made me uneasy. Be-

epic proportions. Good friends, Steve Miller and Longo,

sides dissecting frogs and dating an immunologist, I was

discuss everything from nuclear bombs, to wave theory,

completely out of my comfort zone. Though, I realized,

to the blackboard in Einstein’s office. Pioneer and video

as new discoveries and images abound on a daily basis,

veteran, Bill Viola, with the assistance and support of his

science is the new sexy.

partner and executive studio director, Kira Perov, takes a

To produce this issue I called on my panel of experts:

more spiritual route, meditating on universal and ephem-

Steve Miller, a multi-media artist with numerous solo mu-

eral themes that come to life in his work. With a slew of

seum exhibitions, the author of several books, and who

imitators, no one shapes time quite as masterfully as he.

has worked in this area longer than anyone else I know –

At a friend’s cocktail party, I was introduced to Adam

without his help this issue would not be what it is; Marvin

Fuss. The Beatle’s quote, ‘I get by with a little help from

Heiferman, photography expert, curator, this issue’s guest

my friends,’ seems to be a running theme in the making

editor, and author of Photography Changes Everything; and

of this issue. Through Fuss’s work we return to traditional

Arthur Miller, author of Einstein, Picasso and Insights of Ge-

methods of photography. He created the largest daguerre-

nius, to name a few, who knows more about art than any

otype ever made and employs camera-less work – a har-

physicist I’ve encountered.

kening back to early photo-gram techniques.

I was having dinner with my friend William J. Simmons

Our younger artists, can be found on the pulse of the public

who writes for such publications as Art Forum, Interview,

scene. The self-taught Fabien Oefner relies on an inherent

and Crush Fanzine, etc. Upon mentioning the possibility of

swiss-precision to execute scientifically impressive works.

this ‘Science’ issue, he suggested the artist Lynn Hershman

His 2013 TEDTalk garnered him 2 million views and com-

Leeson: groundbreaker, innovator, MacArthur Award ge-

mercial projects with such iconic brands as Ferrari. Our

nius, and one of the original artists – and woman – to work

youngest featured artist, Rachel Rose, wowed me at The

in technology, who, today, is finally getting her due.

Whitney, upon the opening of her first solo exhibition in

The issue had to show, as I said, that science is sexy. It

the U.S. Her video-work that I saw there is mesmerizing.

needs to speak to the appeal and interest that science has

We step into a voyeuristic world with the brilliant Olivier

in our present-day. Belgian artist Wim Delvoye came to

Chanarin and Adam Broomberg, in their newest book Spirit

mind. His sex x-rays, with titles such as Lick, Blow, Kiss,

is a Bone. They create hollow, mask-like portraits taken from

are compelling and audacious. They view sexual acts

Russian facial-recognition software that produce an eerie,

through the internal composition of the body, making us

otherworldly effect. Our cover artist Shamus Clisset, uses the

see – quite literally – sex in an entirely different way.

character Fake Shamus to enter ‘magically’ rendered worlds.

I had seen Tal Danino and Vik Muniz’s presentation of Pe-

Wacky science-fiction and looming predictions of our plan-

tri, a project with Le Bernardaud, which imposes bacteria-

et’s future meet on digitally rendered landscapes where Fake

dwelling petri dishes onto porcelain dinnerware. Danino

Shamus, Clisset’s alter-ego, wears many costumes.

and Muniz’s collaboration becomes an important resource

Isaac Newton once said, “Energy is neither created nor

for the public and art world. As Delvoye re-visualizes sex,

destroyed, but transferred into different forms,” which

Danino and Muniz encourage us to see and think about

is why this issue feels powerful and essential. I love the

bacteria differently.

process of discovery, which is what this issue is all about:

One may ask, why Robert Longo? Why not Robert Longo?

a new, rich territory for making art. We can’t know where

His art so deftly transforms photographs into hyper-real-

this energy will take us in the future, but I know I want to

istic drawings: sculptural excavations in charcoal of truly

be there to see it.

Robert Longo. Untitled (Home, Earth 3), 2005.


S H A M U S C L I S S E T th e fu ture rend ered

ANDREA BLANCH: Two of your pieces, Mr. Realistic

almost like the two paths split: here’s the one path taken

(Keeping America Clean) (2014) and Builder Destroy

and the other one. In the 3D world you don’t have to fol-

(Acid God) (2013), depict a person inhabiting a trash cov-

low any literal narrative; you create a library of different

ered, post-apocalyptic environment. Where did the idea for

objects and scenarios. Some things from before end up in

this world come from? Is it a version for our own world?

pieces that come later, other things are hinting at things

Is it an omen for the way we mistreat our environment?

that are going to come later that I don’t make – it’s all over the place. But all of the ideas are happening simultane-

SHAMUS CLISSET: Yeah. When I got into working in 3D,

ously for me. It just depends on which one I’m working

my original approach was to realize that this 3D world was

on at the moment, that’s the one that will get finished first.

something analogous to our own world – it was this new, undiscovered territory that you’re creating while explor-

ANDREA: It’s totally endless! You have to cut it off in

ing it. All of this frontier imagery started to come into the

your head.

earlier work, which was a lot about conquering a frontier in American history, but very much in light of where we’ve

SHAMUS: Yeah. Every finalized piece that you see has

ended up and how we’ve conquered it. But, where are we

gone through dozens and dozens, if not hundreds, of it-

now? We’ve paved it all over. My parents live in Colorado,

erations before I decide that that’s the final one.

which has become one of the most suburbanized… ANDREA: You insert yourself into your work in the form ANDREA: Where?

of an alias called Fake Shamus. How has Fake Shamus’ personality changed and evolved over the years? Is that

SHAMUS: The area outside of Denver and Boulder. It’s

what you just said or…

where I grew up. Back in the 70s and 80s, a lot of people went there to get back to nature, that’s why my parents

SHAMUS: Sort of, yes. This character wasn’t necessarily

moved there. In the meantime, it’s become the same sub-

supposed to be me, but he was a way for me to put a char-

urban wasteland that you see everywhere across the coun-

acter in there and make references to my own history and

try. The imagery from my earlier work was commenting

obsessions. He’s not literally an alter ego, but he’s someone I

on that transition, which led towards this post-apoca-

can play around with in that space. I give him superpowers

lyptic thing. Keeping America Clean is interesting because

and create these surreal environments that he can explore.

the figure in all of my works comes from one figure that evolves from one piece to the next, but I consider him the

ANDREA: What are your own obsessions?

same character through each iteration. At the beginning, he was that destructor-type character, the explorer. Then,

SHAMUS: Thinking about where we are at in terms of

he becomes someone magical who cleans everything up

digital media and where that’s gotten us. Last night, I was

from the destruction he had left in his wake. In a narra-

talking with a friend at the studio about how we all have

tive, your mind goes off on tangents. So I might think of

these supercomputers in our pockets now, in the form of

something, and then I make a picture that’s based on one

the iPhone. These things can do more processing-wise than

idea that I had, and something in that will remind me of a

computers could do just recently. Yet, what does everyone

different possibility. Then I’ll go and make a picture that’s

end up doing with that? No one fully understands it except

Portrait by Andrea Blanch.


In my mind, there’s an element of a weird religious devotion to these devices and a supernatural connection to them...

the people building them, like Steve Jobs. We have all of the

more of a discussion. I’m interested in how everything

technology and potential – anyone can sit down and make

we encounter – even though it feels very physical – on

amazing things now – but it hasn’t brought us any further.

the microscopic level, we’re dealing with energy. There’s

We have no idea how these things actually work, so it almost

no physicality to it, just a lot of empty space with electric

becomes a magical thing: you just have faith that it does

and chemical bonds. With 3D, you’re making objects that

work. In my mind, there’s an element of a weird religious

are pure illusion. They’re not really there at all.

devotion to these devices and a supernatural connection to them, so I’m playing with these ideas of the digital mixed

ANDREA: How did you gravitate towards digital art?

with all this American history, frontier stuff. I’m not the kind

What about it provides a larger playground for your

of artist that sits down and has a definite concept; every pic-


ture is a new thing where I’m just letting things happen. SHAMUS: I started out as a painter, then I got really fasANDREA: Would you link your work to science in any way?

cinated with Photoshop in college over twenty years ago. I kept painting for a long time, but I slowly gravitated to-

SHAMUS: I think it’s less science and more…

wards this digital tool because it allowed me to get away from the physical. I went from painting on canvas to paint-

ANDREA: Technology?

ing directly in Photoshop. In the early 2000s, I started producing images in 3D rendering programs that were start-

SHAMUS: There’s a quote by Arthur C. Clarke saying:

ing to look very realistic – it took this flat surface of the

“Magic is just science that we don’t understand yet.” I’m

digital painting to an extra dimension. The 3D stuff was the

not obsessed with the technology, I’m more interested in

next logical step from there. I just taught myself everything

the idea of building something in this 3D world that has

I could and that’s where I ended up, but it all comes back to

no physical presence – it’s just data that has very compli-

that idea of wanting to distance myself from the physical.

cated technical reasons for being the way it is. Underlying that, as a bigger picture, is that idea of working in

ANDREA: A lot of popular digital, mostly Internet art, ex-

this nonexistent space.

ists in the realm of the uncanny valley or is glitch art, while your work is hyper realistic. What about this sense of real-

ANDREA: What would you like the audience to come

istic finesse is appealing to you and the goals of your work?

away with? Do you care about what people think? What are you trying to provoke?

SHAMUS: That’s a really good question. There’s more and more digital work out there and a lot of younger

SHAMUS: I want people to understand how the things

artists doing all kinds of different work. I don’t dismiss

are made, when I tell them that this is, for instance, a 3D

the glitch stuff at all, but what I find interesting is this

rendering. With any new medium, that’s something you

space in between the very real and the very unreal. With

always struggle with. It’s just a matter of people becom-

a 3D rendering, the space and the forms are very real, yet

ing familiar with the digital tools, but you have to know

there’s something clearly off about it. That’s the space,

that to fully grasp it. At the same time, I want it to be

visually and perceptually, that I’m really interested in. I

Shamus Clisset. Bambaataa in the Desert (Mirage Version), 2015.




I see the 3D world as the closest thing to thinking about something and making it happen.

love that 3D rendering is used in most practical purposes

ANDREA: So you incorporate a lot of humor into your

such as product pre-visualization or architecture.

work, but unlike a lot of digital art, you don’t rely on glitches for laughs. In fact, it’s easy to mistake your

ANDREA: Would you say that Fake Shamus is a form of

work for photography. Do you strive to instill a sense of

self-portraiture or self-invention?

suspension of disbelief in your viewers?

SHAMUS: I started with the concept of him as a digital

SHAMUS: Yes, sometimes I want viewers to be complete-

Golem. When I first got into 3D, I was reading a lot about

ly doubting what they’re seeing. They think what they’re

the Golem myth and something just clicked for me: that

seeing is tricking their brain, yet they know it can’t be real.

you can make this sort of clay, figure-like creation and

I build things in my scenes to look almost photorealistic,

there were a lot of similarities in the way you were bring-

but I think there are characteristics of them that don’t quite

ing it to life in the digital sense. Everything you tell the

make it all the way there. That’s what makes it interesting.

computer to do is followed literally, completely literally. Anything that goes wrong is actually your fault. There’s

ANDREA: Would you consider your digital work a form

a lot of Golem mythology where that same thing happens

of photography, sculpture, or painting?

– you tell it to do something and it takes it very literally, and ends up demolishing a city or whatever. Over time,

SHAMUS: It’s something completely different. Obvi-

it’s almost like I wanted to give him a life of his own.

ously, there are elements of all of those processes built

So instead of him just following my words – the instruc-

into it because you’re building visual sculptures. But then

tions that I gave him – I wanted him to become more of

you’re giving them color, tone and texture through more

my nemesis, or someone who was taking over the world

of a painting process. Then you create the final rendered

as I was creating it. I was building these environments

image with a virtual camera within the software, which

and putting him into it, and everything he touched he

has all the characteristics of a real camera. So you’re play-

inhabited and made trashy. There are a lot of references

ing with all of these different things, but it’s not equal to

to low-culture, especially in the earlier work.

any of those original mediums.

ANDREA: Who are your artistic influences, both digital

ANDREA: I’m waiting for the day when you can just talk

and analog?

to your computer and it will do what you say, so I don’t have to learn how to do all of this.

SHAMUS: Most of my favorite artists are painters from growing up. A lot of them have an irreverent streak, I’d

SHAMUS: That’s actually one of the links I think about

like to say, like Sigmar Polke, Kippenberger, Mike Kelley.

all the time. My problem with painting was my frustra-

Polke’s paintings from the 60s, 70s, 80s were a huge influ-

tion with it not being able to come out the way I was pic-

ence on how serious you should take the art world or art

turing it. I see the 3D world as the closest thing to think-

in general. There’s an aspect of him being very serious

ing about something and making it happen; the digital

about making art that’s not entirely serious – I see myself

stuff will come directly out of our heads and we won’t

and my goals in the same way.

even have to touch anything.

Shamus Clisset. Astronaut, 2015.


I think, in the mass sense, in our daily lives, we’re now so connected, but at the same time we all feel distanced from each other.

ANDREA: Do you feel your day work informs your artwork?

go back and work on something else. If you make the object correct in a real world way, it will spit out a picture of it

SHAMUS: Not so much. The work I’m doing is very Pho-

that looks real with all of the correct shading and highlights.

toshop based; I do the Photoshop stuff with my eyes closed.

That magical process is what sucked me into it.

It comes very naturally to me now, because I’ve been doing it for so long. It sets up the perfect scenario for me – I can

ANDREA: Have you ever experimented with physical

be doing the work without being emotionally invested in it.

sculpting media or have you ever considered it?

ANDREA: Do you think we’re failing or succeeding digi-

SHAMUS: I have considered it a lot. But, because of my core

tally? Where do you think we’re at with that?

concept of having something not physical, making it a lump of plastic, or just another sculpture, kills the magic for me.

SHAMUS: I think we’re in a very weird place with all of this technology. In the scientific world, it’s making

ANDREA: What about Marvel Comics? I can see your

amazing things happen, but on a daily basis there are

Fake Shamus in there.

things that we all hoped we would already have figured out. We don’t have flying cars yet, but it’s getting there.

SHAMUS: Oh, for sure. It’s just something that has to

Having self-driving cars is going to be amazing. I think,

come out of the process naturally or play a specific role in

in the mass sense, in our daily lives, we’re now so con-

that process, but it hasn’t clicked for me there yet.

nected, but at the same time we all feel distanced from each other. So there’s a weird two-edged element.

ANDREA: What are you working on at the moment? What are you and Fake Shamus excited about working

ANDREA: Why would you feel distanced if you don’t talk?

on in the future?

SHAMUS: Right, exactly. So all of these tools that were meant

SHAMUS: I’m bringing my work back a notch to the

to bring everyone together are used to spy on everyone. Ev-

hyper-real, but working on compositions and scenarios

eryone’s got Facebook, Twitter and you get these little snippets

that have a glitch aesthetic. The way I’ve set it up has

of what’s going on, but you don’t have that real connection.

a sort of chaos structure to it. I think I want to explore that a little bit more – taking elements of one picture

ANDREA: Your pieces are so detailed and complex that

and transposing them into different pictures. If you see

they take weeks to render. How does this lengthy finish-

the pictures side by side, you’ll make little connections.

ing process impact your creative process?

You’ll see things being moved, transformed into something else, re-contextualized. Working in 3D means you

SHAMUS: It’s a natural part of the process and it doesn’t

have all these different things you can draw from. I like

actually hinder anything. All of the work goes into building

pictures that really play off of each other in that way. For

the scene and the objects, getting the materials and the lights

example, “Beeramid,” that big beer pyramid of mine, and

right. When I’ve decided it’s done, I just hit render and let

how it relates to a Christmas tree. Not just visually, but

my computer do it for a week or two. In the meantime, I can

also conceptually. That’s interesting to me.

Shamus Clisset. Fly Ghost (Raver Lambo). 2015.





Suzanne Anker, Vanitas (in a Petri Dish) 01, 2013



Suzanne Anker, Vanitas (in a Petri Dish) 07, 2013





Suzanne Anker, Top: Vanitas (in a Petri Dish) 03; Bottom: Vanitas (in a Petri Dish) 08, 2013



Suzanne Anker, Top: Vanitas (in a Petri Dish) 04; Bottom: Vanitas (in a Petri Dish) 09, 2013





Suzanne Anker, Vanitas (in a Petri Dish) 02, 2013



Suzanne Anker, Vanitas (in a Petri Dish) 05, 2013



LY N N H E R S H M A N L E E S O N si g ni f i ca nt co mmi tment b y W i l l i a m J. Si mm o ns The best artists are so avant-garde that their work baffles their

Using technology in art is not only for men. Ada Lovelace

contemporaries and requires a new set of interpretational and

wrote the first computer program between 1842 and 1843,

art historical tools in order to make sense of their advance-

but she was not credited for 100 years. Mary Shelley wrote

ments. We are only just now beginning to understand the

the first book referencing artificial intelligence in 1818 with

extraordinary contributions to Minimalism made by Miriam

Frankenstein. Hedy Lamarr invented spread spectrum

Schapiro and Judy Chicago after years of focusing on the ac-

technology, which is the basis for the cellular technology.

complishments of male artists on the East Coast. Lynn Her-

The importance of the innovation in technology that has

shman Leeson, unlike many other artists, seems to welcome

come from women is only being recently acknowledged.

the fact that she was, and continues to be, so tapped into the

My work that uses technology began in the 1960s, first

vanguard that her work from the 1960s onward defies critical

with a mistake on a Xerox machine, which I liked and

articulation. In fact, by requiring us to think with more nuance

kept reproducing. Then I incorporated sound as an exten-

about the role of technology and gender in our formulation of

sion of what I call the Breathing Machines – wax casts that

discourses surrounding photography, performance, film, video,

emit sounds of breathing or giggling when approached by

and sculpture, she has enacted a completely new understand-

the viewer. They can even talk to the viewer. These pieces

ing of postwar art. We can never understand conceptualism in

were not exhibited until last year at my retrospective at

the same way after experiencing Hershman Leeson’s astonish-

Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie (ZKM). Be-

ing excavations of the intellectual and artistic possibilities of

fore that, people said they were not art, because media

changing technologies.

was not art. One piece that talked: Self Portrait as Another

Despite any resistance that she encountered in the art world,

Person (1965) closed down an exhibition at the University

Hershman Leeson has pulled 18-hour days every single day

Art Museum in Berkeley because the curators insisted it

for over 40 years. Aside from her work discussed in this in-

was not art. I like using technologies and innovations of

terview, which are held in prestigious museums and private

the present in my work because it offers more opportu-

collections across the world, Hershman Leeson also premiered

nities than dealing with the past. I wanted to use things

the landmark documentary !Women Art Revolution in 2011.

that were in the process of being invented, rather than

Additionally, she wrote, directed, and produced three other

trying to do things that were already in the dialogue. It

feature films starring Tilda Swinton that have been screened

progressed systematically from the sound sculptures to

internationally: Conceiving Ada (1997), Teknolust (2002), and

the site-specific works, which had a flowchart for how

Strange Culture (2007). An Emeritus Professor at the Uni-

you navigated them. Time and space, and modularity and

versity of California at Davis and the A.D. White Professor-

video were compressed into Lorna (1983), which is consid-

at-Large at Cornell University, Hershman Leeson was also

ered the first interactive laser-disc artwork.

a recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship, the Alfred P. Sloan

It took 25 years for Lorna to be seen and acknowledged.

Foundation Prize for Writing and Directing. To the benefit of

Once people started thinking about the ramifications of

artists and researchers across the world, the Stanford Univer-

an interactive art videodisc, and what that meant for a

sity library has also acquired her working archives.

fractured narrative, or began considering virtual reality and placing the viewer inside the art space, then that

In the following, Hershman Leeson discusses the ramifications

just extended into the next work, Deep Contact (1984),

of her historical work as she moves even further into uncharted

that uses a touch screen to allow one to virtually touch a

aesthetic territory.

woman’s body. This invented various adventures. It ref-

Portrait by Andrea Blanch.


erences physical and sexual abuse and the fact that when

didn’t find my work accessible in the 1960s and 70s, and

you touch a body, you open multiple paths that one could

they didn’t know what to do with it. Now they do. They’re

encounter. This led to my use of a stereoscope in Room of

not bothered by the date it was made and have a new ex-

One’s Own (1990-3), where you can actually control the

perience as a result. I made these things decades ago and

action based on what you look at. It actually incorporates

it seems that I had to wait for the Millennial generation to

the viewer’s eye into the artwork, making the viewer into

grow up, as they are the ones who understand these proj-

a voyeur. From that came America’s Finest (1993-4), an

ects. You deal with the time you’re living in, and the tools,

interactive rifle with a surveillance system that allowed

inventions, and opportunities of that time. As new tech-

you to see the past and the future simultaneously. The

nologies develop, we have to think of them in a utopian

action of pulling a trigger implicates the viewer in an ag-

way to enhance our stay on this planet, while remember-

gressive act being captured on camera. With the telero-

ing the potential for horror that is a possibility as well. You

botic dolls from The Dollie Clone series (1995-8), I was

have to maintain optimism, because that brings you to a

thinking about how, by using cameras in the dolls’ eyes,

form of belief that subverts the risks, danger, and fear.

the viewer could become a virtual cyborg as they look at

These projects take time and don’t happen overnight.

the dolls and control their movements.

They’re all authored by me and my team, and we don’t

In this way, my work has always been a dialogue and a

go out and buy software to use. Most times, in fact, the

conversation. I use the viewer as part of the piece. People

software does not exist; we create it. This combination of

Lynn Hershman Leeson. Above: Cabbage; Opposite: Strawberry Noir; From the Injectable Mutation series and Infinity Engine. Following spread: Wallpaper, from The Infinity Engine, 2012-2013. Courtesy Bridget Donahue Gallery.


a team is important; it’s like making a movie. That’s what

have had to declare itself a genetics lab to allow the inclu-

drives the final project as it gets born. When you are deal-

sion of the fish.

ing with all of these possibilities, you find experts to col-

What I’m concentrating on now is a film about the artist

laborate with. There is a historical precedent for this. For

and activist Tania Bruguera. It is focused on a conversa-

example, Billy Klüver’s Experiments in Art and Technol-

tion between Tania and the doctor, Dr. Frank Ochberg,

ogy (E.A.T.), created in 1967, paired artists and scientists.

who named post-traumatic stress disorder and is an ex-

As for my current projects, I would like to bring The Infin-

pert on Stockholm syndrome. We went to visit him in

ity Engine (2013-14) to the United States. That’s my major

Michigan and did ten sessions back-to-back. Tania is a

work of the decade. I’m not quite finished yet but I think

great artist, and we are thinking through how her artistic

it could be ready to show soon, and it will be much more

decisions make reference to personal and familial experi-

advanced than it was at my retrospective. It was more

ences, as well as the politics of censorship and repression

resolved when it was shown at Modern Art Oxford the

in Cuba. It was a really fascinating journey. I don’t want

following summer. Every audience is different though.

to distill it by putting in reenactments or other interviews,

It was successful in England and Germany, but I would

because that’s really not what it’s about. The role of tech-

be curious to know how American audiences would re-

nology here is precarious. PTSD fractures your memory,

spond. We would be able to do things in the United States

like an erased hard drive, and there are drugs that can

that we couldn’t do in Europe; like have GMO fish, which

help, but is that what we want? The scars of life are valu-

was difficult to have under German law. ZKM would

able and help us navigate the future.



Gergely Szatmari, Scientist with an X-ray telescope.





Henry G. Sanchez (English Kills Project), Grass Shrimp (Palaeomonetes pugio), 2015.







Brooke Goldman, Cacti, 2014.


R O B E R T LO N G O c ar vi n g the ep i c

STEVE MILLER: What’s it like to draw the Cosmos? Not

during the first time there were images of the Earth from the

many people have the balls to draw the Cosmos.

Moon. That was incredible to me, the idea that these guys could see the shape of the Earth, and see how round it was.

ROBERT LONGO: I realize I am interested in an ability to

As a kid, I remember once at the beach, I swear I could see

see these inaccessible objects. It goes back to death. I have

the curve of the Earth. I swear I could see the horizon. It’s

this fantasy that when I die, and my soul is floating out

not there but I still pretend I can see the curve of the Earth.

there, I’ll get to see the Earth. I’ll get to see the Moon, the stars. Then, I said why the fuck wait? I’ll do it myself. I

STEVE: This issue is about science, and I think that the

want to make the stuff I can’t see.

reason that I really got into thinking about you for this

For the past several years, I have been thinking about

was because of the bomb series from 2003 that you titled

how, as artists, we are blind. We can’t see how other

The Sickness Of Reason.

people see our work. It’s the same thing that drives us: to make things that we can’t see. The only real way we

ROBERT: Science is interesting because we want to be-

can see them is by making them. It’s really very hard to

lieve in it. We used to believe that science and technology

explain to someone the compulsion, and the desire, and

would save us. Now we’re starting to think it’s going to

the obsession to make work that is driven by this desire

kill us. The difference between our generation and the gen-

to make things that we can’t see.

eration of my kids is that we dealt with nuclear or atomic

I remember the experience of producing the first Earth

threats, while they are dealing with bio-genetic fear. It’s re-

that I made. It felt as if I was out in space looking at this

ally radically different, the idea of redesigning us, where

glass ball. It made me go back to Hieronymus Bosch’s

the interface between man and machine collides.

doors of The Garden of Earthly Delights. When you close

My bomb series, Sickness of Reason is inspired by Goya’s

the doors of The Garden of Earthly Delights there is,

The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters. Actually, one of

painted on the back of the doors, an image of a glass ball

the bombs that I made looks a lot like Goya’s painting

that has a flat Earth in it, which I think is amazing.

The Colossus. I always thought that looked like an atomic

For one of the big star fields that I created, I first project-

bomb. I try to make art as if I am tuning an old radio:

ed a Jackson Pollock painting over the paper’s surface.

if I turn the knob too much one way or another, I lose

I then sketched the basic structure of the Pollock paint-

it — it’s really important that I find this balance between

ing, and then projected a nebula on top of that. I basically

something that’s highly personal, and at the same time

made Jackson’s nebula. I kept thinking of this idea of in-

socially relevant. And if I can find that balance, it makes

telligent design: trying to play God in a way.

sense for me to investigate it. Each series leads me to the next. Before the drawings of

STEVE: Pollock said, ‘I am nature.’

bombs, I was making wave drawings. Then 9/11 happened, and I started incorporating the smoke from 9/11

ROBERT: I know. I thought about that so much. His

into the drawings. Someone sent me an image of the tow-

paintings are really quite profound in that way.

ers falling down, and when I printed the image, it came

These are images that we want to see because the only way

out of the printer upside-down. I thought, “The image

that we’re going to see them is when we’re dead – or at least

of the buildings beneath the cloud of smoke looks like a

that’s when we think we’re going to see them. We grew up

bomb! Holy shit!”

Portrait by Andrea Blanch. Following spread: Robert Longo. Studio View, 2014.


I remember showing the atomic bomb test images to my

itself quite profound, because it’s a mourning material.

kids. I asked my son who was 8 years old at the time, “So,

It’s burnt. It’s dust. They’re incredibly fragile. I mean, I

what do you think this is?” And he answered, “I think it’s

make the most fragile art out there. When I saw Herzog’s

a hurricane.” He thought they were nature.

film Cave of Forgotten Dreams, I thought about how those

All of a sudden, I had this idea of man trying to be nature;

charcoal cave drawings are thirty-thousand years old!

an arrow pointed to go in that direction. I dropped my

We are all fighting against death. We are trying to deny

work on the waves, and the bombs happened. The Russian

death, to look it in the face and say I’m not scared. Say,

test bomb was a really great image. It was such a dirty, nas-

“Fuck you, I’m gonna live forever.”

ty-looking bomb. It looked like they blew it up in a fucking coffee can. With my work, I ended up beautifying certain

STEVE: The reason why it’s doubly interesting, in terms

images. The bombs led me to roses. Waves, bombs, and

of your work is 1) in your use of black and white, and 2)

roses have a similarity in those early series because they all

in regards to a quote by Roland Barthes: “Photography

exist at a moment of being. It’s almost like they’re orgasmic.

may correspond to the intrusion, in our modern soci-

I mean, they’re all at the moments of becoming.

ety, of an asymbolic death, outside of religion, outside

I started to understand that with the waves, the shape

of ritual, a kind of abrupt dive into literal death. Life/

of a wave is not necessarily dictated by how strong the

Death: the paradigm is reduced to a simple click, the one

wind is. It’s dictated by what’s deep underneath it. It’s

separating the initial pose from the final print. With the

like psychoanalysis. Ironically, before the wave draw-

photograph, we enter into flat death.”

ings, I was working on the Freud Cycle drawings. Julian Barnes wrote an essay about the idea of the artist

ROBERT: That flat death is really great.

turning catastrophe into art in Géricault’s The Raft of the Medusa, which is really interesting.

STEVE: It’s you. Why do you relate to it so much?

In the summer of 2004, I was invited to the Aspen Institute for Physics for the 100th anniversary of Einstein’s

ROBERT: My son once asked me why I make work in black

Theory of Relativity. They wanted to show a group of

and white. I remembered looking at LIFE magazines: The

seven bombs with the drawing I did of Einstein’s desk.

color exposées would be of Marilyn Monroe, the circus,

The institute showed these drawings in an octagonal

Broadway shows. Then when you would come to the pho-

room, a room in which they then hosted a conference

tojournalism of the Vietnam War and the horrors of Calcut-

about nuclear proliferation, with military people, scien-

ta they were always in black and white. Maybe in my mind

tists, and politicians. I thought that was very ironic.

I’ve come to the point of thinking that the truth is black and white, but I also think it’s highly abstract in that sense.

STEVE: In regards to the bomb images, you understand where they’re coming from, and the research that went

STEVE: These drawings flat line photography. Photogra-

into defining them. I do want to talk about photogra-

phy in itself is a flat line of the image which it captured,

phy, because that’s one of the issues here. I want to talk

which was alive.

a little bit about the content. Death is one of the major themes in your work. There is beauty, and there is death.

ROBERT: I think my “Men in the Cities” drawings played

There is power, and there is spectacle. All of these things

off of the art of shooting a photo. I remember when I got

are operating, on a complex level simultaneously. Some

a motor drive for a camera. I would shoot 30-40 photo-

of the images are coming from LIFE magazine, so it’s

graphs to get one image to make a drawing. It was like I

kind of like pop culture.

was shooting these people, literally. I work from photographs that are taken from a split second. I construct these

ROBERT: In considering all of those subjects such as beau-

images. I draw them; I build them. It takes an incredibly

ty, death, spectacle, and power, there is only one subject

long time to make a picture that is based on a split second.

that encompasses all of them: The Epic. I grew up with The

The anti-Robert Smithson. Entropy in reverse.

Ten Commandments, with Spartacus, and The Longest Day,

There’s traditional representation and modern abstrac-

all of these epic movies. I think this is another force that

tion. I exist somewhere in the middle. Maybe, I translate

drives me: trying to make epic work. I’m looking for the

photographs. I remember how my father would remem-

kind of rush that I had when I saw those movies.

ber things through photographs. Photographs function

Fear of death is why most of us make art, anyway. Hanne

as our collective memory. They fuse into this sense of our

Darboven’s work, with all that counting, possesses a sub-

collective unconscious. They are surrogates of ancient

text of, “I’m alive, I’m alive, I’m alive…”

archetypes. Our memories exist as photographs, with po-

The fact that I make these drawings out of charcoal is in

tentiality as opposed to actuality.

Robert Longo. Untitled (Jackson’s Nebula), 2006




Robert Longo. After Pollock (Autumn Rhythm: Number 30, 1951), 2014. Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New York.



You have to realize the depth in which you can go; if you fuck the paper up, you can never get it back.

STEVE: I’m looking at your tools. You have a brush, the

ocean. In a weird way, my drawings based on Abstract Ex-

eraser to dig. It’s like an archeological excavation.

pressionist paintings from my 2014 exhibition Gang of Cosmos, were definitely labors of love. Regarding authorship,

ROBERT: I graduated with a sculpture degree. In my

I thought maybe I was revisiting the Abstract Expression-

mind I am a sculptor, not a painter. These drawings are

ist works to redeliver the authorship back to the artists

truly sculptural. The process of these drawings is the op-

who made those paintings.

posite of traditional painting. Traditional painting works

If you are successful enough to create an archetypal image

from dark to light. I work from a white surface. The white

in culture, you eventually lose authorship. So ‘Jackson Pol-

in the drawings is always the raw, virgin paper. I never

lock’ could be the style of painting that somebody does their

add white to the drawings. The drawings get built up

bathroom in. The authorship is lost in that work. By doing

with so many layers of charcoal and dust and powder

these drawings I was reinstating the artist’s authorship.

and stick. The way the drawing comes to life is by erasing,

The time it takes to make a brush stroke versus the time it

carving the image out of it.

takes to paint a brush stroke is radically different. Black and

You have to realize the depth in which you can go; if you

White photography is very arbitrary. So I worked from color

fuck the paper up, you can never get it back. They’re like

photographs, and deliberately tried to do a translation into

mineshaft disasters where you can never get back to white.

black and white with as much sincerity as possible.

We make different kinds of erasers. When we made those

In the Joan Mitchell painting I realized there was black

abstract expressionist paintings we made erasers to imi-

and red next to each other, and in the black and white

tate the grain of the canvas for the Barnett Newman piece.

photograph they looked exactly the same. So how do I

I’m dealing with a minor, forgotten medium that I found

translate that to give it some soul? Each painting required

in the crack of high art. I basically had to re-invent draw-

a different kind of strategy.

ing. We have invented techniques with the powder, and

For instance, what was really interesting, with the Pollock,

we’ve learned, what I call, different colors of charcoal.

is we toned the whole paper grey, and then we projected

Painting to me, I realize, is a form of architecture. You

the painting onto it, and then we drew the black first.

really have to build a painting. Great masters, how they

Once you draw the black first you realize there is clearly

deal with paintings, how they seam together wet and dry

a plan involved with Pollock’s Autumn Rhythm (Number

blows my mind. My drawings take a long time, but great

30). It was basically divided into three sections. The next

paintings take fucking forever.

thing we did was the green and the gold, with different values of powder. The last thing we did was the white,

STEVE: Your work for me is really about a conceptual

with erasing. It was this really weird deconstruction of

practice. Even though there is imagery, the approach is

the painting to make it come alive. What was also amaz-

conceptual. Compared to the Abstract Expressionist

ing was with this idea of fractals: you could tell how tall

painting you worked from, your drawing is not a “repro-

Pollock was and how much he weighed by his gestures.

duction.” It’s of equal value, in terms of the experience for

It was really quite amazing taking these things apart. In

the viewer. Was this a part of your intellectual thought

the studio, each drawing looked like a forensic site. We

process or sensibility?

got permission from all of the artists’ estates. We got into the museums to see all the paintings. We took about 100

ROBERT: I think, for me, the ‘Picture’ sensibility was there

photographs for every painting. So every drawing was

at the beginning, but it’s definitely not there anymore. For

surrounded by hundreds of photographs that we were

me, Abstract Expressionism is a force in my life like the

working from to reconstruct this drawing.

Robert Longo. Opposite: Untitled (Russian Bomb / Semipalatinsk), 2003. Following spread: Untitled (Crown of Thorns), 2012.


STEVE: So obviously there is subjectivity in the transla-

husband back to the front. Her husband dies, and David

tion, but the subjectivity is like a technical virtuosity.

takes Bathsheba as a concubine. In the finished painting

How are you making these decisions? All intuitively?

she has such incredible, tender, poignant resignation in her face. But in the underpainting, the look that she has

ROBERT: Yeah. Very much so. Ironically, now that you

is more like, ‘Hmmm, this could be kind of interesting. I

bring that up, if art is subjectivity then science is objec-

get to do the chief’. When I saw that x-ray I was like holy

tivity. The choices I made were somewhat on the fly, but

shit, this is a completely different story. The interesting

were highly educated ones. They were planned.

thing is that there are stories behind making this work,

My work also has the scale of Abstract Expressionism.

then there are the stories that people perceive from it. I

I’m definitely a child of the Abstract Expressionists. That

find that really interesting.

scale. My generation of artists, the ‘Pictures Generation’

The Raft of the Medusa is another perfect example; the aris-

for lack of a better name, I think we wanted to compete

tocrats cut the rope on the raft and let them float, and

with the mediums that shaped us. That’s why I wanted

these fifteen survivors, out of the 150 on the raft, go back

to make a movie. The one big difference between cinema

to Paris and tell everyone that these loyalists fucking just

and an artwork is, how many times have I looked at The

let them drift. There was almost a revolution because of

Raft of the Medusa in the Louvre versus how many times

this. Many viewers don’t know this story of The Raft of

have I watched The Godfather? Art has this incredible de-

the Medusa, but they imagine their own story. It’s really

mocracy that exists within it that is not dependent on the

interesting in that sense.

narrative structure of film. When they first invented film they thought it was useless. Then writers thought, ‘This is

STEVE: In those atomic bomb drawings, you included

going to put us out of business, so we better usurp it, and

Einstein’s office. A lot of artists have had a fascination

put it into a narrative structure with a beginning, middle,

with the site of where science takes place. It’s either the

and an end.’

lab, or the chalkboard. What were you thinking by in-

With an artwork, the viewer makes his own story. You can

cluding that with the bomb drawings?

look at an artwork narratively, however you want to look at it. That’s why I don’t like time-based art. I find it really bor-

ROBERT: Right. There was Einstein’s office. There was a

ing. I hate going to movies where I miss the beginning of a

rocket taking off, which I included as an homage to Jack

movie. I don’t want to walk into a gallery wondering, ‘When

Goldstein, because Jack had just died. There was also a

does this start?’ I like the democracy that exists within art.

shot of the corduroy effect of the waves, which reminded me of a movie I saw as a kid, On the Beach. I had just

STEVE: I think you have a rather scientific mind because

finished doing the Freud drawings, about Freud’s office.

of the research that goes into your work. What I perceive

I realized that Freud and Einstein are these incredible

when I look at a lot of your work, is that it’s through the

white, old men bookends of western civilization. I found

lens of science. Then when I look at these x-ray drawings

this photo of Einstein’s that was taken the day he died. I

I’m insanely jealous because it’s such a great idea. We’re

found out that his office at Princeton was the same office,

talking about rendering something visible that’s invis-

same space, in the kind of cupola or the dormer of the

ible. What’s that experience for you as an artist?

building, the exact same office as Oppenheimer’s office. So I took the chair from Oppenheimer’s office and put

ROBERT: The first drawings I made that were based on

that chair into Einstein’s office.

x-rays, were based on x-rays of Rembrandt’s paintings of

Then I tried to understand what was written on the

Jesus. I think God is about believing in the invisible, and

blackboard. I learned that Einstein’s whole life, after

x-rays are about seeing the invisible. When I began this

the theory of relativity, was this attempt to unify string

series, I re-read texts by writers such as Walter Benjamin,

theory and the theory of relativity. The blackboard was

who describes the loss of the aura. I thought that this series

literally divided in half. There were these two formulas.

of works based on x-rays was a way of reclaiming the aura.

The problem with the original photo of Einstein’s office

I also love this idea of seeing things that you can’t see.

was the information on the blackboard was unclear, so I

Bathsheba at her bath is a really good example. She’s

took the homework of my son, who was doing trigonom-

been asked by King David to come over to his house

etry, and wrote it on a blackboard. So part of it, on the

while her husband is away fighting for King David,

blackboard in Einstein’s office is my kid’s math home-

because he wants to fuck her. She gets pregnant. King

work. What was really funny was when we showed the

David calls her husband back, but he doesn’t want to

drawings in Aspen, there were guys there that actually

sleep with her because he feels bad for his troops, so he

knew Einstein and were looking at the blackboard going,

sleeps out on the street. King David freaks out, sends her

‘What was he fucking thinking?’

Robert Longo. Top: Einstein’s Desk (Princeton), 2004. Bottom: Untitled (Freud’s Desk and Chair, Study Room 1938), 2000.




Robert Longo. In progress image of Untitled (Shipwreck, Redux), 2016.






Ellen Jantzen, Extrusion, 2016







Ellen Jantzen, Fusion of Nature, 2016







Ellen Jantzen, Controlled Access, 2016



TA L DA N I N O & V I K M U N I Z d i sh

ANDREA BLANCH: As a cancer researcher and synthetic

synthetic biology. It is a really exciting field that is all

biologist, what inspired you to turn these cells into art?

about programming life. I think of it as trying to treat life and living organisms almost like computers. Instead of

TAL DANINO: I did a lot of outreach while doing re-

writing computer code, we write DNA code. We write

search: demos for kids, museums, science fairs. I would

DNA code and put them into a bacteria, cell, yeast, or

always bring bacteria to show, and would talk about can-

some other organism. It then could be programmed to do

cer – how we treat cancer. From there someone actually

something that it doesn’t normally do.

introduced me to Vik Muniz and that’s when I started thinking a lot more about the visuals. I started focusing

ANDREA: Like what?

on the visuals to get more people’s attention – to engage kids, adults, and the general population – and to talk

TAL: The big areas in this field are taking medicines and

about the science I was doing myself. I thought it was

biofuels as therapies or acting as biosensors – it can sense

really helpful because when you get into the words and

things in the environment like toxins or things in your body.

the details of explaining the science, people get lost very

They’re probably the biggest areas of research right now.

quickly. Not because they’re not capable; it’s just not an everyday language that we use. It’s a little bit isolating to

ANDREA: Is this part of the cancer research?

learn about sciences in that way, but there’s something about the arts that makes our research and science more

TAL: So the third part, in regards to cancer, is the applica-

palatable, a lot easier to understand.

tion. Almost everybody knows someone who has cancer.

ANDREA: That has been the big question when doing

ANDREA: Unfortunately.

this issue and focusing on people who deal with science. I keep saying to make it more accessible. You want people

TAL: Yes, unfortunately it is the disease of our time be-

to be engaged and it is a different language. So, unless

cause there is no universal cure. There are ways to treat

you either dumb down the language or show incredible

certain cancers. Everybody cares about certain cancers

visuals, people are not going to pay attention.

too. So in terms of my own research, those three areas together, really make a strong, attractive push for people

TAL: Yes. I mean, it’s tricky because these areas that I’m

to understand them. The science is still pretty challeng-

studying are things that people really care about. For

ing. That’s why making these artworks out of cancer cells

instance, studying bacteria has become a really popular

and bacteria, with engineered patterns in a way, lends to

trend. What we’ve learned is that all of the bacteria in-

the idea that we are engineering the bacteria themselves.

side of our bodies are actually important for our health.

It is a really powerful message for my research and a lot

For instance, when you’re too sterile, the way that you’re

of other people’s research as well.

delivered as a baby, taking too many antibiotics; all these things that affect the kinds of bacteria in our body. It

ANDREA: Was there an initial moment of inspiration

leads to allergies, stress, and all kinds of disorders be-

for Colonies?

cause we’ve been too sterile as a society for a long time. So, that’s one area of my research. The second area is

Portrait courtesy of Tal Danino.


TAL: When I met Vik, I showed him these bacteria vid-

eos that I have online. He was very excited about that.

ly in my lab where we do both science and art – I really

What we first did was make very simple drawings on

try to get the students to break free of that, to embrace the

petri dishes. I did a sample of Vik’s own bacteria. I think

unknown and to just go with it as we’re moving along.

from the inception there was such a good sense of scale. The conclusion we came to after that initial petri dish,

ANDREA: They’re just different ways of looking at the

was that we need to see both the bacteria as a whole –

same thing?

the individual bacteria – and the image as a whole. What that meant for me was that we needed to make very, very

TAL: But I would say that it is very complementary, be-

small images; we had to develop this technique to basi-

cause the artistic skill set is very useful as a scientist: both

cally micro-pattern cells. That patterning itself is about

as the idea of exploration as well as communication. All of

the size of a dime. Then, the artworks are printed seven

our data is so visual. As scientists, we look at the micro-

feet by seven feet. From ten feet away you can actually

scope very often, and try to extract information from there.

see it’s made of tiny little cells – which is really nice.

Art is really complementary to science and to scientists. And science is very complementary to art. Obviously, the

ANDREA: Why did you choose to title the series Colonies?

fundamental laws of nature are boundaries and parameters for your art – for what you want to physically do.

TAL: When we grow bacteria in petri dishes, each individual dot of bacteria is a colony. Every colony is actually ge-

ANDREA: Have you always had an interest in art? In the

netically identical. It’s almost the way that we use the word

video by Creators Project, you mentioned your interest

“colonies” in regular everyday language: it is a little cluster

in art as a graduate student in regards to the bacteria

of people or bacteria grouped together. So it was this idea

films you created at the time.

that the patterns are the clusters of bacteria. They’re arranged in a much more interesting way than how we think

TAL: I would say that was my first moment of interest

of a bacterial colony. It’s an engineered colony on its own.

in science-art. When I was a kid, my mom was an artist, and we always did art projects. My dad is an engineer by

ANDREA: Vik describes the relationship between the sci-

training. So there was a balance between them. I was al-

ences and art as one of matter and meaning. What is your

ways really interested in art and visualization, but it was a

take on this relationship?

very separate thing. I would take painting classes, and do completely different things. As a grad student you spend

TAL: Matter and meaning. It is interesting. For “Colonies”,

so much time in a lab that I chose to merge the two things

I think of it more as: “the medium is the message”. We are

together. It made it really interesting for me because it was

working with this matter, with this object that is a part of

a different way of seeing my own research and sharing it

the meaning.

with people. It also opens up new doors for me, because if I see some interesting bacteria that makes this pattern,

ANDREA: Is the relationship between the sciences and

and feel that it’s really beautiful aesthetically, I can learn

art intrinsic or complementary?

more about it as an entry point and bring it into my own research as a scientist. You don’t want to spend 24 hours

TAL: I think there are a lot of different aspects to it. In

at your job doing science, but if I spend a lot of time on sci-

some ways they’re very similar. You’re exploring. Even

ence and incorporate art, I’m actually adding more to my

though you have a general direction, you don’t know ex-

knowledge of science, even though it’s a different thing.

actly what you’re doing. As you’re exploring this space, you stumble on different things and chase after them. Art

ANDREA: How is bacteria beautiful? Is it because of the

is done in a very similar process, where it’s not always

patterns that they form?

predetermined. A difference is that typically, artists embrace that process a lot more. I feel that scientists are a

TAL: Yes. Did you see the Petri series?

lot more conformed to a process that is predetermined. When I think about combining science and art – especial-

ANDREA: Yes, with Bernardaud.

Vik Muniz. Opposite: Chiral Colony, Courtesy of Bernardaud; Following spread: Vik Muiz, Motherboard, Colonies, 2014.






TAL: So, for instance, those patterns on the plates are

about MIT is that they have producers that help facilitate

naturally occurring growth patterns of bacteria on petri

the interactions between the artists and the scientists.

dishes. If you put bacteria under certain conditions they

I think that this is a crucial component to these collabo-

will form these really intricate snowflake or fractal-like

rations because the worlds are very different. If neither

patterns. So that by itself is beautiful.

world has experience in the other, it’s very hard to begin.

ANDREA: But the images of bacteria itself, the colors

ANDREA: Where do these producers come from?

were Vik’s choice? Your choice? Arbitrary? TAL: They work at MIT CAST – Center for Art, Science TAL: So those were Vik’s choices. When you grow bac-

and Technology. The director is Leila Kinney. The produc-

teria they’re usually a cream color, and not usually that

er was Meg Rotzel. She helped facilitate the interactions

pigmented – except for a few. We usually dye the bacteria

with Vik. He had a schedule and meetings with various

a color that is used for identification of bacteria in the lab.

people to see if it’s mutually interesting: for ideas, and

So one of the Petri plates is a purple-ish blue. That one is

in order to feel it out. The interactions beyond that were

actually just a dye sample from the lab.

trips that the center funded. I also did something with Anika Ye, another artist I worked with. We workshopped

ANDREA: Wow, that’s really beautiful!

together to teach people at MIT what we were doing.

TAL: Yes. I really like that one. And I think on that same

ANDREA: So Vik’s role in this collaboration was to pro-

one, there’s actually some writing of mine on the petri

vide visuals?

dish. That one’s almost a scientific object. TAL: Yes. Vik would send me images for Colonies. We had ANDREA: The color was stunning. I hadn’t noticed the

to develop the science for making these complex visuals.

writing before.

It took us quite some time. There was a technique previously available to make very simple patterns. You couldn’t

TAL: Sometimes we false color them for Colonies.

make a bullseye pattern. You could make a circle, but you couldn’t make a circle within a circle. That was the limit of

ANDREA: False colored. Meaning you add color?

the technology. It’s a process that is closer to silk screening than painting. We don’t use a brush. We use stamps and

TAL: Yes.

molds. We bind these cancer cells to specific areas where the stamp was. I took the pictures on the microscope –

ANDREA: That’s a nice expression. So, you and Vik came

large scale digital photos. I then sent them to Vik’s studio.

to work together because you met at MIT. Did you ap-

There, they would false color them and print them.

proach him? Or him you? What was the nature of the residency?

ANDREA: Did the patterns that you chose reflect the process and materials that you used?

TAL: MIT’s Center for Art, Science, and Technology is an amazing organization. As a part of that program, they

TAL: Definitely. There’s a lot of back-and-forth, especially

bring in visiting artists to MIT. Vik really had a goal of

on my end; in thinking about which kinds of cells look

wanting to make art with living things. Especially, small

best visually for which patterns. Some cells have harder

living things. It was by coincidence because I was work-

edges that look more like polygons. Others have smooth-

ing and doing demos at museums, and someone from the

er rounded edges. We had a couple of variations for each,

MIT office contacted me and told me that Vik and I should

and chose the one that looked best. We also had to do

meet, that he could help with the visuals in my museum

some thinking, more cerebral planning, as to which cells

demos. When we met, we talked about the visualization

we want for which image, to convey a certain meaning.

of bacteria. He was really excited about working together.

For instance, the one that I’d love to show you is a man-

So we put that collaboration forward. What’s really great

dala of a blue cancer cell. We chose the mandala because

Vik Muniz. Opposite: Diffuse Salmonella, Courtesy of Bernardaud; Following spread: Vik Muiz, Left: Flowers (Vaccinia Virus) Pattern, Colonies, 2014; Right: Liver (Hepatocytes) cell pattern 1, Colonies, 2014


it is a symbol of life, which juxtaposes with cancer.

own research where I’m making art, and telling people about it. I think that scientists should be doing more of

ANDREA: After you sent the images to Vik, did he ma-

this. It’s really good to help get the word out there.

nipulate any of those? Or was it just a question of color choice? It seems so much more complex than I thought.

ANDREA: How much control over the bacteria shapes did you have? Can you manipulate that at all? As you

TAL: There is actually no Photoshop involved. Vik likes

said, “we could manipulate it in Photoshop”, but could

that. My experience in making images was that they

you do anything like that yourself?

weren’t perfect enough. There are all these cells trailing around that shouldn’t be, which is what we look for in

TAL: We don’t manipulate the shape of the bacteria. We

science. But aesthetically, Vik likes cells scattered around.

manipulate their color in ways that we engineer. So we

If you look closely, there are also vertical lines within the

make and express different kinds of fluorescent proteins

images that were where we stitched separate microscopic

that are shown in some of the Colonies images.

images together with a 20 x 20 stitch. He explains it as leaving a trail of bread crumbs for the viewer. You don’t want it

ANDREA: How do you feel art and science will evolve

to look so perfect. You want to give people a sense of how

and intersect in the future?

was this made? You want to make them look twice at the situation. That’s what I’ve learned from working with Vik.

TAL: There’s this evolving discipline of bio-art. Artists use the materials that are available to them, and often the

ANDREA: What went into choosing the patterns for each

materials of their day. Artists started using technology

image? For example, the image of cars in a traffic jam.

thirty to forty years ago, especially in regards to computers. Now that’s happening with biology. Biology is

TAL: My impression of that specific piece was that the

getting a lot simpler to use. People are learning how to

cells and the pattern were both negative ideas. In the Col-

manipulate biology. Artists are now using biology as a

onies series, there is a figurative image and a patterned

medium: bacteria, fungi, moss. I think bio-art is definitely

image. There’s traffic and there’s a mandala. There’s

going to grow in the same way new media art and tech-

a couple of other pairs like that. So for this pair, it was

nological art developed in the past few decades.

negative-negative and then negative-positive. ANDREA: At this time, would you add artist to your ANDREA: How do you feel Petri and Colonies redefines

various titles?

the idea of cancer, virus, and bacteria? TAL: Yes. I now consider myself an artist. It happened after TAL: One thing we just talked about was that one can

the Colonies series. I did an art residency in the fall at Eye-

see bacteria and cancer in a different light. The idea that

beam in New York, and I’m still an art resident there. I just

bacteria cells are always bad is now changing. Especially

had an exhibition on Wednesday with a couple of new pieces

now, to think that bacteria is treating cancer, these images

I did at Henrietta Lacks. It was my first-time solo exhibition.

are now helping to bring people into an understanding of the different kinds of relationships.

ANDREA: Scientifically speaking, where would you like your research to take you? What’s your goal?

ANDREA: You did a TED Talk on programming bacteria to detect cancer in the body. Does this area of yours re-

TAL: I have two goals. The very broad goal is that I want

late in any way to Colonies?

to develop new therapies and diagnostics for cancer. This is a major goal. In the process, and in order to do

TAL: The Colonies series helps convey the research that

it, we need to learn how to engineer bacteria, and design

we do in a more engaging way. I can’t say that Colonies

principles for this. So this is a small detail from a broad

has helped develop the science for anything regarding

perspective, but very important. It’s almost like learning

cancer. It’s more of a personal exploration for me. It’s my

how to code before writing an app.

Vik Muniz. Tip-Splitting Morphotype, Courtesy of Bernardaud





Jan Staller, Water Isolation Pilot Plant.



Jan Staller, Water Isolation Pilot Plant.





Jan Staller, Kirtland Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center.



Jan Staller, White Sand Missile Range.




Stefan Jennings Batista, Phoebe, 2014



Stefan Jennings Batista, Top: Aphrodite; Bottom: Maia, 2014



Mico Pavlovic, Top: Balancing at breaking Point; Bottom: Balance at Breaking Point 4.



Mico Pavlovic, Top: Balancing at Breaking Point 2; Bottom: In Search of Balance I.


ST E V E M I L L E R th e be a uty o f co mp l ex i ty

ANDREA BLANCH: How long have you been using sci-

I thought that would be a really great game to play in

ence in your paintings?

terms of my own career, and how my work is valued and how art is valued in particular, and in this case, it was

STEVE MILLER: Far too long. I would say, probably, in

sort of a competition, between myself as an artist and the

the early 80s, I started working with science and technol-

price of gold in relationship to the financial market.

ogy. I think I started out working with computers, probably around 1983, something like that. I came to it because

ANDREA: Tell me how you got involved with the pic-

I realized that computers had an implicit visual language,

tures to begin with and what the process was, in terms of

which is coded in our particular moment in time. I knew

going there and taking images.

that if there was going to be a new language system, it was going to be through technology.

STEVE: The first step towards technology was looking at the technology used to analyze financial markets in rela-

ANDREA: Well, let’s talk about the conversation we had

tionship to art. I kept exploring areas of technology, and

the other night regarding who came first.

I started to think about the typical art genres: portraiture, still life, landscape, and history painting. Photography

STEVE: The chicken or the egg?

was Shanghai’d from science by us artists and amateurs, and the next I thought it would be interesting to use these


technologies of x-ray, MRI, blood tests, CAT scans: all the ways we look at ourselves and get identified forensically.

STEVE: My first show in New York City was in 1980 at

There’s a new kind of identity created through these new

Artist Space. In that show, I was a licensed commodities

tools. Then that started me

trader, and I had my own firm. I saw what was happen-

using electron microscopes. I had my blood analyzed

ing in the art world and could see the discussion going

under an electron microscope in the south of France. We

less towards content, and more towards commodity.

found pollen spores in my blood, so that became a meta-

I thought it was a very interesting moment in time to

phor that got me thinking of something called Vanitas,

comment about that. So I set up a commodities trading

which are sort of still-lifes that show your mortality. The

screen; it was from a company called Radio Data Sys-

message was pretty much, you better be good, because

tems. This stuff is so primitive, before Bloomberg ter-

Santa Claus is coming to town.

minals–and I set it up so I could trade commodities in the installation. So, I did a camouflage environment with

ANDREA: What did it look like, the Vanitas?

charts and graphs. I had a painting with a bar of gold in it, and a graph with the price of gold. It was called Mur-

STEVE: It’s the guy looking at his skull; there’s an hour-

phy’s Golden Rule, and “Murphy’s Golden Rule” is that

glass on the table, there are wilted flowers, there are

those who hold the gold make the rules.

musical instruments. All of these things are about the

I thought what would be interesting in terms of the con-

passage of time and mortality, but I wanted to use new

text of the show was to see, overtime, what becomes

technology to reinvent it – so I used electron microscopes

more valuable. Is it going to be more valuable as a work

to do the self-portrait part.

of art, or is it going to be more valuable for the gold? So,

The electron microscope created this idea of abstraction,

Portrait by Ashley Comer.


The data measurement of aesthetics right now is way larger than anybody could possibly imagine. The market demands it.

because when I first showed those images, they weren’t

for example), that collision can be measured as energy –

out there in public so much, so they had this form of

we’re getting into too much science – but there’s an ener-

abstraction and wonder. That led me to Brookhaven Na-

getic equivalent to mass: E=MC2, right? E, energy, equals

tional Labs, where I was invited by Kathy Brew with a

mass, and there’s a relationship. Mass, if you could re-

bunch of artists to see if there’s something interesting at

lease that mass, times the speed of light squared, that’s

Brookhaven that we could work on. After that trip, I was

how much energy is in a piece of matter. That’s why you

looking at the two major toys there. One was the Relativ-

can have an atomic bomb. That’s why you can get those

istic Heavy Ion Collider. So that was the segue to CERN.

Robert Longo images we were

At the time, they were smashing protons to verify the ex-

talking about. We’re in this era of high science, technol-

istence of the Quark-Gluon plasma, which is the state of

ogy, and data analytics. So, as an artist, I’m completely

matter in the Big Bang. I did a body of work entitled, Neo-

compelled to follow that trail.

lithic Quark, got some press, did a catalogue, and that led me to Rockefeller, with Roderick MacKinnon, who also

ANDREA: You were one of the first ones to start blazing

won the noble prize for chemistry in the middle of our

the trail.

working together. So the combination of working with Rod and working with Steven Adler at Brookhaven got

STEVE: I’ve been doing it for a while. What’s amazing is,

me on track to CERN.

when I went to Brookhaven, I was the only person who

Through another physicist at Rockefeller, Sebastian

took up the challenge of working there. A bunch of artists

White, I got invited to CERN to give a lecture to the the-

were invited there and I met some really cool people; Ste-

ory group. I spent a week receiving the VIP tour of all

ven Adler and Nora Volkow. Now Nora’s the head of one of

the experiments. I realized that micro-reality and macro-

the divisions of NIH. They were just such amazing people,

reality had one thing in common: data analytics. Even

and they were giving me access to these incredible tools. I

though I went in thinking of particles of waves, I came

got to look at a particle accelerator; I got to walk through it,

out understanding it was about parsing data in order to

talk to everybody, try to understand what they’re doing. I

find the Higgs Boson.

got to ask, how does it relate to my life, and why is everybody so interested in this area? It was such an incredible

ANDREA: What’s a Higgs Boson?

opportunity with a journey that began with my first solo show at White Columns. Understanding the data of com-

STEVE: A Higgs Boson is one of the elementary particles

modities trading really mirrored the emerging cultural fact.

of the universe that needed verification. It’s the particle

Now, art prices are on the net. So, the data measurement

that gives all other particles mass. Not to get too into it,

of aesthetics right now is way larger than anybody could

but there’s a Higgs field that permeates the universe.

possible imagine. The market demands it.

Other particles move through that field and their mass is

In 1975, when I first started out, it was Art Forum, a

in relation to their interaction with this field.

magazine of art and ideas. There were all of these issues

In order to figure out whether this Higgs field exists or

that everyone was worried about. There were people

not, they had to go looking for it; they had to observe

like Walter DeMaria, going out in the desert, and really

it by measuring it. When particles collide (two quarks,

looking at the non-commodification of the object; really

Steve Miller. Opposite: Elastic And Diffractive,; Following spread: Released In the Future, 2014


wanting to react to that, and having a non-objective, non-

stuff, is that the chalkboard actually means something.

commercial experience. I think of a lot of artists, like Rob-

Not that an abstract gesture does not have content or

ert Smithson with Spiral Jetty, or in New Jersey where he

meaning, because it does. It has meaning about the hu-

dumps asphalt down the side of the hill. I think a lot of

man endeavor: the action and activity is important, but

artists were thinking about that. So I was just taking off

this is a different kind of activity. They’re looking for a

on this notion of anti-commodification. The commodities

unified theory of the universe, and that’s wild. They’re

trading thing. It’s materialism. This is gold. This is art.

looking for it in the more succinct forms. I mean one

Which is worth more? It’s a dialogue that’s been going on

version, E=MC2, doesn’t account for everything, but

for a long time. Financial analytics led me towards tech-

it’s the shortest mathematical formula that accounts for

nology, which led me towards medical technology, and

the most amount of information. So when you’re going

that led me to particle physics.

around CERN, you’re looking at all these chalkboards, and you’re talking to these guys, and you gain an idea

ANDREA: Is there a way to know how that relates to

of what they’re looking for, how they’re thinking. That

aesthetics? Or how it informs aesthetics?

these equations, they’re sketchpads, they’re notations, really formulas for understanding the Cosmos. That’s very

STEVE: It informs aesthetics now, and I’m not even say-

compelling content. Even if you don’t understand this as

ing that’s a good thing. I’m just saying it’s a reality. Deal

a viewer, you know that it has a deeper meaning.

with it. The world is changing; we have all this technol-

What I did was photograph the chalkboards, and then I

ogy. My favorite quote was a Richard Prince quote from

highly contrasted them, so they only have the line. Then

an interview where he says: “if you’re not on the gram,’”

I would silkscreen the chalkboard on top of the images

meaning Instagram, “you’re either in deep shit, quick-

of the experiments. It seems to me it gave another layer

sand, or riding around in a covered wagon.”

of meaning, because the problem with imaging science is putting together beauty and complexity. Nobody’s go-

ANDREA: Absolutely.

ing to understand the science, even the physicists don’t understand half of it. I mean one of Richard Feynman’s

STEVE: That’s basically where we’re at. It’s really hard to

favorite quotes is, “Nobody understands quantum me-

keep up with technology. With a team, I am creating an-

chanics,” because it’s based on the uncertainty principle

other kind of data analytics for the galleries – I just had to

and probability; it’s not based on logic.

go there. It’s not what I envisioned, it’s just that the information is leading me to explore different aspects of art.

ANDREA: I mean everywhere, people are suddenly putting art and science together. I would think it’s because

ANDREA: Yet, with your pictures of CERN, you still use

of technology, the data analytics, how we live now. The

your silkscreen technique. You brought another element,

everyday person – like myself – is becoming more aware,

a more traditional element, into it.

so there’s more interest in this.

STEVE: Well, there’s nothing more beautiful than graffiti

STEVE: Right. The front page of The New York Times, on

on a chalkboard. What’s so interesting about the CERN

July 4th 2012, featured the Higgs Boson. Then you see a


We’re talking about how science invents photography, and how photography changes the whole freaking world.

recent front page of the Times: it is gravitational waves.

more? How are people going to relate to this: not being

Something monumental and important is taking place.

able to see a visual?

Previous to last week, we were looking through the universe only through light, through telescopes. With light

STEVE: The pulse of the laser, in the detector, made a

waves, Einstein was trying to figure out that it takes eight

sound when the force of the gravitational wave pushed

minutes for the light of the sun to reach the earth, so how

the laser out of phase.

long does it take for gravity to travel the same distance? Is gravity something transmitted? I mean, is it just there?

ANDREA: For your generation, you’re unusual. I could

And he figures, ok, there are light waves. The speed limit

see the younger generation dealing with these things.

of the universe is the speed of light. Einstein proposed that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light. So, there’s

STEVE: Maybe so, but for the next generation, what’s the

also gravity between the Earth and the Sun. Does it take

implication of space-time? What’s the implication of dark

eight minutes for the gravity to get from the Sun to the

energy? There’s data now that’s being generated by the non-

Earth? So if the Sun blew up, will the Earth stay in orbit

visible universe. How interesting it is to make art out of the

for eight minutes before it wanders off into the universe?

nonvisible universe. If I don’t do it, somebody else will. I think it’s really important to communicate visually,

ANDREA: So, why is gravity equivalent to the speed of light?

and the reason I like the layering of the imagery, is to create that complexity and that layering; because it’s a

STEVE: It’s a scientific proposition. If gravity is a wave – if

very layered and complex experience. So, I think the vi-

forces move through waves – then how fast does gravity

sual component needs to reflect that intuitively. How are

move? Einstein thinks that gravity moves at the speed of

people going to represent the rest of the 95% rest of the

light. Now, two sensors have detected that gravitational

Cosmos? I think this notion that science and technology

waves exist. I can explain the experiment, but we’ve gotten

opens new worlds, just like in the interview with Mar-

way off topic here. What they’ve done is they’ve measured

vin Heiferman. We’re talking about how science invents

what they think is an event that happened a billion years

photography, and how photography changes the whole

ago, which is when two black holes collide, and they created

freaking world. It’s a completely different world because

a huge gravitational ripple through the fabric of space-time.

of technology. Now, technology and the Internet have

That ripple is in the form of waves that travel at the speed

created a new set of relationships. It’s changed the social

of light, and they reached Earth in September. So the whole

fabric of promotion: advertising, dating. Part of art world

reason I’m talking about this, is now we have a whole other

judgment, part of it, is based on people’s statistics; their

way of looking at the universe, which is through nonvisible

measure of financial value: of likes, of popularity. Data

means, which is gravity. No one can see it, but now we’re

and technology are invading the traditional and classic

starting to measure it, which opens up a whole new door.

set of criteria. There is a shift and now there’s another

We have the possibility to measure dark matter and dark

thing going on: a major, huge development in science.

energy which composes 95% of the universe.

With the search for the Higgs, we’re involved with 5% of the visual universe, and now we have 95% of the in-

ANDREA: How do you think that will inform people


visible universe that’s coming into view. That’s amazing.


Steve Miller. Office, from CERN, Unique custom bound book and silkscreen. 2014



Steve Miller. Chalk Boards, from CERN, Unique custom bound book and silkscreen. 2014



Steve Miller. CERN, from CERN, Unique custom bound book and silkscreen. 2014




David Goldes. Charged Threads Tied at Both Ends, 2011.



David Goldes, Charged Threads Tied to a Single Thread, 2011.







David Goldes, Electricity On My Table, 2010.





David Goldes, Six Pencils, 2012



David Goldes, Spiral Drawing, Pencil and Electricity, 2012



A DA M F U S S ou tl i e r

ANDREA BLANCH: During your career, you’ve been

wonder and discovery. Man Ray and Moholy-Nagy are

labeled a lot of different things — one of them being a

much more sophisticated insiders, self-conscious picture-

“spirit photographer.”

makers. I’m always trying to make pictures I’m not in.

ADAM FUSS: Well, spirit photography is photographing

ANDREA: When I met you, I told you that I loved the

manifestations — ghostly-type pictures. I’ve done a lot

series where you have snakes on a mattress, and some are

of work around a series called “My Ghost,” but I never

in focus and some are not. What is the name of the series?

thought of that as being spirit photography. ADAM: “Home and the World.” ANDREA: People also compare your work to sun-print photograms, rather than camera-less darkroom techniques.

ANDREA: Have you ever heard of the term “Architecture of Entrance?”

ADAM: I regard any light that illuminates the light-sensitive paper. The kind of light is not important. It’s about

ADAM: This is the “Architecture of Entrance” right here.

the duration and intensity of those different kinds of light

(pointing to picture of a vagina) The beginning of this sto-

and the image that’s desired.

ry is that I made pictures with snakes swimming. What I learned from making this image and observing the snakes

ANDREA: You’ve said that your work has more in com-

is that they are a very kind of positive force of life, both sym-

mon with Moholy-Nagy and Man Ray than William

bolically and energetically — all the snake wants to do is be

Henry Fox Talbot.

under its own cognizance, it wants to be free. You get the sense of that cliché, how important freedom is. Years go by

ADAM: No, it’s the opposite. Just because I use a camera-

after making that image, and I’m thinking about making a

less technique doesn’t mean I have a lot in common with

picture with snakes that relates to a game I played as a child

Man Ray or Moholy-Nagy. It’s because, particularly with

called “Snakes and Ladders.” This is a Snakes and Ladders

Man Ray, the language of what he’s making photograms

board, an old version, because it came to England from In-

of is very different from the material I’m choosing and my

dia. I played on an English 1960s version. You play with a

subject matter — I’m generally choosing natural forms

die, and you move from here, and on a square that’s a lad-

while he’s choosing manmade forms.

der, you go up. If you land on a square that’s a snake, you go down. Each square has an attribution, like this one where

ANDREA: What do you have more in common with in

that’s a ladder—let’s just pretend that this says “charity,”

regards to Henry Fox Talbot and Anna Atkins?

and that this one with the snake says “greed.” The snake has a negative connotation. Exploring this board game led

ADAM: Talbot and Atkins are using natural forms. I think

me into the symbolism of the snake and my own desire to

it’s also in the spirit of experimentation, particularly with

understand why my experience with the snake was highly

Talbot. He is understanding how to make images on

positive. There is this highly negative, cultural form put on

the light-sensitive paper that he’s created, and Atkins is

the snake: stories you’ve heard from your parents, and who

formally recording plant material. I feel close to both of

doesn’t know the story of Adam and Eve? The bad snake!

their works and that period because it has that sense of

The Medusa? The bad snake! The paradox is that you’re

Portrait by Andrea Blanch. All the following images courtesy of Cheim & Read, New York.



Adam Fuss. Home and the World, 2011.


surrounded by good snakes. Every ambulance in New York

The best art would be made in a trance, yet the artmak-

has a good snake on it. It’s a healing snake. Energy. In this

ing process takes part. That’s why Pollock is so great — he

game I played as a child, the first person to reach 100 won.

lets go before the picture is made. There’s nature between

But in the Indian version, you actually leave the game, and

the end of his stick and the canvas. There’s an honesty and

you’re in this Godhead at the top of the game. So it’s about

universality in it that is very hard to get to with yourself,

a path towards escaping rebirth; they wanted to achieve en-

when the self is making the work. I was looking at the

lightenment. The snake represents a lot of things, but one of

Medusa story and thinking: what the fuck? I don’t even

them is that it carries the energy that manifests sexual attrac-

have an entrance to that. What happened was that I was

tion. It carries the energy of the future of the race. Then look

invited to a party, and the theme of the party was Brides

at the shape of your genes. The biggest decision you could

and Grooms, so I bought some wedding dresses for my

make in your life is who you are sharing your genes with,

girlfriend, and pretending to be a bride must have tipped

and your decision about who you’re exchanging that with

her over the edge. It was hell. We were the last of 50-70

is the most fundamental and dangerous. I think that’s why

couples to arrive. We got back, put the dresses away, and

the snake is dangerous to people. The snake in the game is

a few months later, I found myself at a breath workshop

basically about the process of civilizing that sexual desire

upstate my wife recommended me to go to. So, I’m in this

and trying to escape from it, trying to transcend sexuality,

room with a bunch of people, and these two women were

and, therefore, escape rebirth, escape your karma.

dressed in white. Suddenly the music’s on very loud, and the lights are really dim, and people are doing this breath

ANDREA: Would a lot of people like to do that?

thing — it was really intense. It was like my head blew off, and I was vomiting, and I was crying, and I was screaming,

ADAM: Apparently not. Monastic attendance is way down.

and it was this heavily cathartic thing. A couple of hours

If you think of the passage of the train from the London Un-

later, I had this thought of putting the snakes in the wed-

derground, from East London to West London, coming to

ding dress, so I came back to New York and made the pic-

stations and meeting other train lines — it’s a map of all

ture of the snakes in the wedding dress. I went back and

the sexual experiences of your life. The point where those

read Medusa, the story we know — the female head de-

trains cross symbolizes a moment of exchange, a possibil-

capitated and full of snakes. But there’s the story of how

ity to move in a new direction. So, the map of the London

Medusa becomes Medusa: after Medusa’s decapitated, two

Underground could be a gene map; it’s like an orgy of

drops of blood emerge from her decapitation, and when

genes crossing. It doesn’t have to be sexualized. It could

they hit the ground, they give birth to two beings. One is a

be names, it could be ideas. It could be a map of meeting

golden, shining man — that’s how I felt after this cathartic

people and exchanging an idea that produces a new idea,

experience. The other thing that comes out of Medusa is

a new invention, a new philosophy. The mattress in this se-

Pegasus, which, for me, is the most optimistic image in art,

ries is symbolic of our world — we’re born on mattresses,

as it speaks to absolute liberation and freedom of emotion.

we’re conceived on mattresses, and we’ll probably die on

The image of the dress for me was always the body without

mattresses. And then, I thought that I want to photograph

the life, it’s a body without a head.

people on mattresses, because the snake is symbolic of them. I discovered that my daguerreotype technique wasn’t

ANDREA: Much of your work feels like a dissection, both

as good as it could be, because I couldn’t retain the qual-

literally and emotionally. Why is it important for you

ity of pale-skinned models. Their skin was getting darker;

to combine the technical and the emotional? Technical,

it didn’t make sense. That’s why I decided to shoot African

meaning that it’s scientific. Your work is experimental,

Americans — it doesn’t matter if they go dark. I thought it

and there’s a spirituality to it.

made sense, because I had this cliché in my head that Eve was from Africa, so that kind of tied in with the snake.

ADAM: Well, photography is technical, so there’s an engagement with the materials and the techniques, the root

ANDREA: And then how did you get to the Medusa, the

of how you generate the image. That’s always been inter-

snakes with the dress?

esting and a challenge, but I’m not highly technical, while proper photographers are highly technical because, with

ADAM: The Medusa story seemed inaccessible to me be-

commercial photography, you have to really know your

cause it’s a feminine story, a woman’s story. Then my life

stuff to get good and consistent results. I don’t have that

transpired, and I completely got it. This picture is a very

kind of brain. I just follow my nose.

important picture for me because my best pictures have nothing to do with me. As soon as my hand, or my self-

ANDREA: Why are you attracted to the older methods of

consciousness, in on the artmaking process, I’ve limited it.

creating images?

Adam Fuss. Top and Bottom: Home and the World, 2013.




Adam Fuss. The Space Between Garden and Eve, 2011.



ADAM: I’m not exclusively attracted to them, and I

be satisfied with the images you were making with the

wouldn’t say the photogram is old-fashioned. I would say

machine because your hand wasn’t really in it.

that as an image-making technique within that medium, it’s ever-present. From Fox Talbot to Adam Fuss, within

ADAM: Well, there has to be something of me in the picture.

that history, it’s a substratum. It’s not historical, except the

It’s the nature of the mark — if it’s just me making the mark,

daguerreotype, but I don’t give a shit about that. I’m inter-

then I would define it as an ego mark, which is limiting. If

ested in it as a print medium, because it holds characteris-

I’m not in the process at all, then there’s no human there. So,

tics that are interesting to me.

it’s that balance. I think the perfect example is Pollock — he is moving the stick exactly where he wants it, and then the

ANDREA: Do you have an interest in digital photography?

paint is moving that 10 to 15 inches between the end of the stick and the canvas. It’s not him, yet he’s directing it. The

ADAM: I’m looking into it, thinking about it, exploring it. The

digital photography machine is designed to do that straight-

reason I got into photograms is because I like its photographic

forward, sharp, panoramic image. Everybody can do that,

language, which was different than the one that I’d been fed,

so where’s the individuality in it? I’m trying to put my hand

if you think of images as food. By the time I was 5, I probably

in that, to break that form, in the same way the photogram

had trillions of photographic images, all produced in pretty

for me is supposed to break the generic form of the same ap-

much the same way, the same conceit. When I reached the

paratus. So, for me, it has to be me and my hand.

age where I wanted to make my own work, I thought: “Fuck that. I don’t want to make images I’ve seen a trillion times;

ANDREA: What about people who use digital photography

I’m going to try to do something that has a little bit of its own

today? Let’s say that their mark is made in post-production.

life in it.” No matter how interesting the photographic picture was, it was photographically boring — the syntax, the

ADAM: That’s an analog photography hybrid. We’re in

vocabulary had been used so many times. That led me to the

a historical phase right now, in this transition to a new

photogram. The daguerreotype is the same story because it’s

image world. We actually don’t know where we’re going

such a radically different surface, it’s mirror and image at the

with photographic images. We just don’t know.

same time. Symbolically, that really attracted me. The digital presents the same quandary even more, so I’m interested

ANDREA: Is it disturbing to you in any way? Is there

in using the machines to generate images that their creators

any fear?

never thought of. In my last exhibition, there was a whole room of pictures made with digital equipment.

ADAM: No, when I think about what I’ve done historically, I think I’m a dinosaur. I recognize that analog photography

ANDREA: Would you say you’re a storyteller? Do you

is a historical medium, and I think that anyone working in

care if people who are viewing your work know about

historical photography is, in a way, irrelevant. The time

these references or not?

now is very churned up. There’s this amazing renaissance in analog photography because of the hybridization of the

ADAM: Well, hopefully these images hold all of this material.

digital and the analog. You can do things that were impos-

You stand in front of it, and you may not get it, but it gets

sible to do — this hybridization is extraordinary. We’ll go

you. It goes into you. It stays there. It’s percolating. Image is

on like that for a while, but where digital imagery is going

my language, but I’ll leave it to the viewers to decide if I’m a

is not where we are right now. It’s going somewhere else.

storyteller. I think of myself as a picture-maker. I’m still committed to exploring what I can achieve in the digital world.

ANDREA: Will you be involved?

ANDREA: For someone who wants to be a photographer,

ADAM: Well, I’m still here. The program that I set up for

what would your advice be?

myself to make images that I felt were fresh is one that can continue in any photographic medium or time.

ADAM: My advice is not to do it unless you are enamored with it. Look at historical images, identify the im-

ANDREA: Well... your themes are universal.

ages that speak to you and understand why they speak to you; then you can have a dialogue with that. I think that I

ADAM: The problem is I don’t have the vocabulary — I’m

chose photography because it was the medium I could be

not computer literate. It’s sort of like working through

removed from — it wasn’t my mark, my hand.

other people, which is okay. It’s just different. For me, this began as something I could do alone in the dark room.

ANDREA: Yet, previously, you said that you wouldn’t

My digital world becomes much more collaborative.

Adam Fuss. Top: Home and the World, 2010.; Bottom: The Space Between Garden and Eve, 2011.



Adam Fuss. The Space Between Garden and Eve, 2011.





Evgeny Molodtsov, Earth Herbarium Diptych No 4, 2013.





Eran Gilat, Untitled from Life Science series, 2011.



Dominique Philippe Bonnet, Megalith # 16, France , 2015.



Dominique Philippe Bonnet, Megalith # 03, France, 2015.


W I M D E LV OY E n au g hty b o y

ANDREA BLANCH: I went to the 1999 Venice Biennale,

maker to do double glass, and in between the glass we did

where I first saw your work. What I would like to know

the x-ray. Which is in itself transparent. Then, I thought if

is, were the sex-rays made within the same period as the

I really wanted to integrate them into something a bit ar-

work at the Venice Biennale?

chitectural – because I got a bit more ambitious afterwards – then I have to put the x-ray image on the glass itself. It’s

WIM DELVOYE: The first x-rays were done in 1999, or 98,

a pigment we burn into the glass, and that pigment I apply

but then I made some very good ones in 2000-2001, and that

with silk screen. They’re very beautiful because the pig-

was when I was showing the Cloaca machine – a large in-

ment is a very interesting material, it’s a medieval material.

stallation that turns food into feces. That was in 2000. Then I went to New York in 2001, I was in the New Museum – so I

ANDREA: So getting back to the sex-rays – the machine,

was immersed in that math and science kind of stuff.

I would imagine, was vertical, no?

ANDREA: Okay, so you were still working with the ma-

WIM: The first, second, and third machines were horizontal.

chine, the Cloaca at that time. Right? Or the x-rays?

The fourth one was vertical. The machine was starting to look more anthropomorphic. But then, at the same time, they were

WIM: No, I was much more into bronzes, and other types

done in different situations. I was assisted by different people.

of sculptures. But at that time, everyone’s fascination was

The big link they made content-wise is that they all ask the

for science, medical, clinical things, the human body, and

viewer: Where is the soul? Where is love? Or, where is the hu-

x-ray machines. X-ray machines were fun, and I returned

man feeling, or this kind of immaterial thing like the soul, or

to that. As soon as I got the Cloaca machine finished, I

the spirit? The next day, you see a very material image of the

went back to the x-rays.

human being, a scientific one, which means you’re not seeing their happiness, or love, or the soul. You see the human

ANDREA: I’ve seen three of the sex x-rays. On your

being as a machine as well. It’s the same, it’s like a Golem, a

website, I saw Dick, Blow, and Lick. These are fabulous

soul, more superior to us, in a way – it can live forever, but it

names. Did you do more than three?

doesn’t have a spirit. Like the Golem in old mythology.

WIM: Of course. I also have a series called States of the

ANDREA: Why did you decide to present sex in this way?

Cross or Viae Crucis. They are x-rays that are not dealing

I read that you gave the example of Tracy Emin, her art is

with sexual matters, but they deal with religion. They’re

about saying that she’s a girl. So do you think that this

a bit different from the sex-rays, in a sense, they’re not so

work says that you’re a boy?

explicit, and much more collage-like. WIM: A lot of my work, in general is machine-like; we ANDREA: With your gothic windows – Chapel (2008), 9

make spud guns, we make shit machines. It is not why

Muses (2001-02), and Days of the Week (2001) – did you

I started to do x-rays. I’m thinking of a movie where Jer-

use x-rays to do that at all? They look like they are x-

emy Irons plays two characters in the film.

rays, cut like stained glass. ANDREA: Oh, I remember that film, Dead Ringers (1988). WIM: In the beginning, I asked a stained glass window

All images © Studio Wim Delvoye, Belgium


Loved it!

Most of my ideas are laying in a cave for a long time, until I find the right situation, the money, the people, the place.

WIM: It wouldn’t be such a scary movie if it was two

their licenses. For example, the tattooing of pigs – “Art

girls, in my opinion. From the beginning of the movie,

Farm” (1998-2010) and “Tattooed Pigs” (2005-06) – and

you know that this is going to end up wrong. There are

the radiographing of people, they think it’s an issue of

these twin brothers, and there was this really strange

safety with the sex-rays, or it’s an issue of being liable as

sexual tension. I was aware of that movie when we were

a doctor. The big taboo, mainly, is that you’re doing it for

doing these x-rays – you have science and the medical,

art. Globally, societies have a problem with art. We think

contrasting with human feeling and romance. By the

we are all into contemporary art, but as soon as contem-

way, only later I realized I could never do the sex-rays

porary art does something with technology, whose pur-

in the United States. This country is so religious. Doc-

pose is to save lives, then people’s real opinions come

tors are so worried about being sued. There’s certainly

out. If it’s not for saving lives, you cannot x-ray yourself.

a prudent attitude in the United States. For example,

You cannot do it for fun.

I needed doctors, and the doctor I found was so adamant to participate. He was astonished that he’d never

ANDREA: When I first read about the pig project, about

thought to do that. He happened to be in his midlife

the tattooing, someone said to me: well, what becomes

crisis. And it was also funny – I put my penis in the

of the pig, does someone kill the pig? I got very con-

mammography machine, and he said, “Look, I’ve been

cerned because I’m an animal activist. He said, you

here for years and never thought to put my penis in this

know what, I don’t know if he kills the pigs or not. Then,

machine.” I thought, that’s the first thing I think of. I

the more research I did, I found you had a pig farm, the

opened his eyes to his own clinic!

pigs are still alive and they will grow into old age. I think this is important.

ANDREA: That’s very funny. You don’t use photography that much in your work, am I right? You mainly use the

WIM: You know, when we have killed the pig, it’s be-

x-rays. How did you become so good at Photoshop if you

cause it has broken more than one leg. And do you

don’t have to use it all the time?

know why the legs get broken? The pig is more than 300 kilo.

WIM: Because it was the new thing, then. I wanted to see what could be done, and I was already having the

ANDREA: Oh, they can’t support their weight.

idea – for the x-rays – for a couple of years. Most of my ideas are laying in a cave for a long time, until I find the

WIM: No, they have not been genetically selected for a

right situation, the money, the people, the place. It has to

long life on these legs. And so people, for commercial

be so right, waiting in the cave; like cheese or wine. They

reasons, don’t wait for the 300 kilos. It takes many, many

get better in the cave. They get better when you wait.

years to reach the 300-kilos, because the growth is slow-

Things are so expensive. It’s usually very complicated

ing down, of course. We have pigs that got bigger and

to do. For example, with the pigs — I don’t know about

bigger and bigger. And then, we love them, because in

tattoos. I mean, it’s not my world, and so I began looking

China, we were showing them live as art pieces, and we

into the world of people much cooler than me, rougher

were mourning when we lost one. I lost an art piece.

than me. I have to befriend them for a while. I then have to befriend the veterinary doctor willing to give me a

ANDREA: Does anyone know you’re a vegetarian? I

“quick prize”. Can you imagine? Again, another piece,

don’t think anyone knows that.

just like with the x-rays, that would be even more complicated in the United States. Doctors are so afraid for

WIM: I’m not making a big noise about it.

Wim Delvoye, Butt 1, 2000.




They think I’m Satan who is selling shit as art.

ANDREA: You’re not, but it’s interesting.

her legs, but I loved her neck.

WIM: People in paradise will be judged by some Holy

ANDREA: What about you – I’m curious, regarding your

Lord. He will look in his book and he will see that I’m

work. You really charged a thousand dollars for a turd

close to a Buddhist. I am not responsible for the death of

from your Cloaca machine?

many animals. I wouldn’t kill an ant in front of me. I will go out of the way for an ant, even a spider.

WIM: At that time? No, I would ask for much more.

ANDREA: Let me ask you, I notice you are doing a lot of

ANDREA: And people bought it?

sculptures at this time. I read that you would like to do an architectural project. Is that still true?

WIM: Oh yes.

WIM: Yes, basically, architecture and building is the big-

ANDREA: You have nerve! Chutzpah!

gest taboo. I need more lawyers than anything else I’ve done. Just having a building permit these days;


impossible. So, all these structures that I want to build

WIM: There were people from Bulgaria, buying with their Visa cards on the net.

depends on the community and a lot of fundraising, or some man with the means to help me. So, this is the

ANDREA: How many did you sell?

most difficult project, more difficult than anything I’ve done. So, I’m still doing the sculptures, often science-

WIM: Twenty-twenty-five. On September 11, 2001, the

based. My new series of tires are very geometric look-

machine was operating in Dusseldorf. One person paid

ing with the Mobius. My fascination with the Mobius is

a lot of money for September 11, 2001. It’s a lot of money

also something quite scientific. I turned lots of crucifixes

to have this in his collection, because he thought this date

into a double DNA helix. What else did I do? I turned

was more important than any other one. It’s just shit. All

19th century classic sculptures into Rorschach tests. So

shits are the same. Because that shit was produced on a

my work has a lot of science everywhere. It’s a different

symbolic date, he liked that. It was cool to have a Septem-

science, each time.

ber 11th shit. Then another person paid for his birthday, this happened on his birthday, and he couldn’t resist buy-

ANDREA: The sex-rays aren’t sexy in a pornographic

ing it. It’s like you buy an old newspaper, or a vintage

way. But I have to say, they’re shocking. My mouth

newspaper, on your birthday.

dropped when I looked at them. They’re very erotic, once you realize what you’re looking at. At first, you’re not

ANDREA: Was it your idea to charge for it?

sure, because they’re x-rays. WIM: That’s a good question Nobody ever, ever asks that. WIM: Some of them. This one lady, who has a very, very

They think I’m Satan who is selling shit as art. Basically,

beautiful neck, and it’s so beautiful, it’s sensual, because

the museum was pushing me to finance the show. They

the neck is making this amazing S line. After I compli-

thought this was a beautiful part of the project, to sell it,

mented this lady for her neck, she didn’t know how to

and to mimic the economy was a part of it. I already had

take it. She never had a compliment about that specific

the logo for the machine, and later on, I took on more lo-

part of her assets. She probably gets compliments about

gos. They are spoofs referring to capitalism, big brands

Wim Delvoye. Top: Pipe 2, 2001; Bottom: Kiss 2, 2001.


You really have to know each other very well to do exactly what I’d like you to do.

made in America, most of them. I did Harley Davidson, I

WIM: Yes, yes, yes. You can recognize me – the very abject

did Proctor and Gamble, I did Ford… I made these logos

ones that nobody wanted to do. I had to sacrifice myself.

to mimic the economy, mainly. Like a naughty boy.

For example, I licked the arse of a pig, and put a dildo inside the vagina of a pig.

ANDREA: So you are the devil. ANDREA: Oh my God. WIM: Yes…The funny part is it was my job to sell them to make more money. Still, people bought it because a

WIM: It’s very cruel. I also penetrated a chicken.

drawing may be more expensive. By mimicking the economy, I was also making a parody of the art world. It’s like

ANDREA: A live chicken?

telling the outsiders of the art world, “Look, this is the art world. They’re all silly, rich people. They’re even paying

WIM: No, no, all were frozen and dead. I bought a dead

for my shit, hahaha.”

pig – actually, I raised a pig, and then, it was brought to me dead. And then I put my finger in it, the vagina. Oh, sorry,

ANDREA: Are you in one of the sex-rays? Did you par-

a vibrator, a dildo. There was no harm to the animals. I had


to sacrifice myself. It was frozen, and that’s the clever part, it was in a plastic bag. And the plastic bag, you don’t see on

WIM: I participated, but the doctor didn’t let me partici-

the x-ray, of course. So I licked the arse of a pig, but there

pate more than anybody else, so I had to keep looking for

was a plastic foil between my tongue and the pig. I didn’t

new people. When I had done a couple of shots, he didn’t

smell the pig or taste the pig. This is a self- portrait, and I

let me do anything for six months.

clearly recognize myself because I have my glasses on. It was a new self-portrait, it made it look like I sacrificed my-

ANDREA: How long did the project take you?

self for art, but there’s a plastic foil, people don’t know. So I’m also a bit of a trickster, but the sex-rays are not tricked

WIM: Years, many years. I was allowed to bring in other

at all. This is really about understanding an x-ray machine,

people and couples. But if I brought in a couple, after two

you know very well what x-ray machines do.

times, the doctor I worked with would say, “You’re done.” And if it didn’t work, I would have to have another couple

ANDREA: Are you having a show soon?

waiting in the waiting room. Some people wanted to do it, and they didn’t know each other. I would say, “You really

WIM: When I do it will be in Paris. Being in Paris is like be-

have to know each other very well to do exactly what I’d

ing home. It’s like a home match. I stay home to play, Paris

like you to do.” Some people would say, “Yeah, I want to do

is like my backyard. I always test my work in Paris before

this,” and sometimes I complied. People are so vain, they

I show it in other places, because I know that I have a lot of

all wanted to have their faces in the picture; they all wanted

fans there. Often when I worry about a new idea, I mix it up

to do a blowjob. I would explain to the ladies that, “Look, I

with an old idea, and I test it in Paris. If the reaction is good,

already have enough blowjobs. I have them in x-ray. I have

then it goes to other places.

them in MRI. I have them in all kinds of ways.” And they’d say, “I want to do this. Please!” Then sometimes the acts

ANDREA: You’re cautious.

were way more innocent, like just kissing it, or putting a finger in someone’s arse. These are not popular.

WIM: Because I change all the time. And I don’t see other people succeeding in what I do. It doesn’t go unpun-

ANDREA: You’re a director, love it.

ished, you see?

Wim Delvoye. Opposite: Lick 3, 2001. Following spread: Cloaca x-rayed truck (Black), 2000.







©Julian Charrière, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, courtesy DITTRICH & SCHLECHTRIEM, Berlin.







©Julian Charrière, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, courtesy DITTRICH & SCHLECHTRIEM, Berlin.







©Julian Charrière, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, courtesy DITTRICH & SCHLECHTRIEM, Berlin.




Linda Alterwitz, Keleen 2, from the series THERMAL, 2016.



Linda Alterwitz, Pilates Woman 5, from the series THERMAL, 2016


R AC H E L R O S E m e , m ysel f , a nd I

ANDREA BLANCH: What inspired you to become an artist?

in the same time period. After I saw both works, I felt a sense of physical detachment, a loosening from the world

RACHEL ROSE: I have doubts about being an artist and

around me.

I continue to have doubts about it, as well as about what

I couldn’t get this feeling out of my head, especially after

art means in the world. I don’t know if something has

I’ve seen both works; it was constant. I wanted to think

inspired me to be an artist. Maybe I’ve evolved into a po-

about this idea, but I wanted to think about it in a realistic

sition of being something that’s called “an artist”.

way. I didn’t want to approach it through special effects and fantasy, but through real world examples of people

ANDREA: What gives you the doubts?

who have experienced this loosening or shifting and that perceptual state, because their bodies are extracted from

RACHEL: It is very hard to know what is meaningful and

all of the conditions that are fundamental to the way that

what is not.

we perceive here (on Earth). That’s what led me to get excited about working with an astronaut. I came across

ANDREA: How did you get to the production of mean-

an interview with Dave online, and then I sent a bunch

ing? It’s a very interesting way to describe what your art

of handwritten letters and emails to get in touch with

practice is about.

him. I searched everything on the Internet I could find that was related to him, and I finally interviewed him a

RACHEL: Living is the struggle for meaning. Every choice

few months later. I shot Everything and More in a Neutral

I make every day is a decision that means something: what

Buoyancy Lab – where astronauts used to go to practice

I eat, where I go, what I’m wearing, how we’re speaking

spacewalking, and I thought how basic and everyday

together right now. And art for me is an extension of that;

water is a tool for this. I also shot the chemical mixtures

the struggle to find some reason for being alive; a reason to

you see, which are just milk and ink and food dyes, things

do anything. Art is a concentrated place for those decisions.

from my kitchen. I was looking at early forms of special effects, when they were created with everyday materials

ANDREA: For instance, Everything and More. What

like this.

meaning would you like people to glean from that? ANDREA: Why did you want to include that in your RACHEL: I can’t say what I’d like other people to glean from


it, because I don’t know what it will mean to other people. For me it’s more about the process of making the work. The

RACHEL: Because I wanted to feel how we can experi-

process of making the work acts as a container for me to

ence this infinite perceptual state through the everyday,

dig into something that I need to work through; something

through our bodies and our physical limitations. That

that has come up for me and keeps returning. Then through

was an important thread for all the disparate elements

making the work, I connect that feeling to something real.

in the video.

ANDREA: Why were you attracted to Dave Wolf’s story?

ANDREA: So when you went to the Lab, was it just you? Did you have people with you? Do you usually shoot by yourself?

RACHEL: It came from seeing Gravity and Interstellar

Portrait by Andrea Blanch. All stills courtesy of the artist and Pilar Corrias Gallery.


RACHEL: It really depends on what I need. I’ll shoot

RACHEL: Dave’s story is remarkable – I interviewed him

things myself, sometimes I work with a camera opera-

for hours and there was endless content. I had to limit it

tor. For the shots coming in and out of the space shoot

and use the footage I was working with in a way that felt

I worked with a camera operator; for a lot of the GoPro

related and not literal.

shots underwater I put a GoPro in a pool and brought it up and down to create this amphibious shot.

ANDREA: Is it difficult for you to make choices? The editing process is about making choices, so I’m just curious

ANDREA: What were the biggest challenges for you with

if that problem arises.

Everything and More? RACHEL: Editing for me is like writing; it’s where I make


the work. My timeline is choices that are always getting

ANDREA: Does Everything and More have anything to

moved around, shaped and shifted. I don’t know if it’s

do with being site-specific for the Whitney?

difficult for me to make choices, because that’s a lot of what I do. Putting everything together and being in that

RACHEL: It does. We projected the video onto a semi-

crisis is making something.

translucent screen that’s in front of the window, which is part of the building’s architecture. At certain moments

Rachel Rose. Above: still from Everything and More, 2015. High-definition video, colour, sound. 11 minutes and 33 second. Following spread: Installation view: Rachel Rose: Everything and More (October 30, 2015 – February 7, 2016) Whitney Museum of American Art, N.Y. Photography by Ron Amstutz


in the video you are very much in the work and in oth-

seamlessly. Is that a theme throughout your work?

er moments you are looking to the outside. Whenever

RACHEL: Every installation that I do is specific to

there’s black in the video projection, that reads on the

each video. There’s no one way that work is installed.

screen as translucent, opening a view to the outside

There are conditions that go alongside that work, to

city, placing you in the Whitney Museum at that time

do with sound, scale of screen, light, where you sit,

of day, in that moment. When the projection is brighter,

etc., but those conditions are always re-thought spe-

the screen turns opaque, and you are within the virtual

cifically to the building and to what the feeling of

space of the video.

the work is.

ANDREA: In your video, you move in and move out

ANDREA: I was reading about the soundtrack, I thought


it was brilliant. Can you speak about that?

voice, so that you felt her sound as a human frequency that had been detached, moving in emptiness. This was

RACHEL: I looked at the singing voice – Aretha Frank-

like how I had imagined Dave’s body, floating in space.

lin’s rendition of “Amazing Grace” – and Dave’s voice

I erased out all her words, her voice was a pulsation,

through a spectrograph, a visual of all the frequencies

while his voice, because of how he spoke and because of

– that allows you to hand-erase frequencies. I used

how I recorded it, had flatness. Using the spectrograph

this tool to erase all the frequencies around the singing

was a way of putting these two in one state together.

Rachel Rose, still from Everything and More, 2015. High-definition video, colour, sound. 11 minutes and 33 second.



Atman Victor, Star Makers 1, 2015.



Atman Victor, Star Makers III, 2015.



Nick van Tiem, Top: Peter Bus, 2014; Bottom: Klaas Jobse, 2015.



Nick van Tiem, Top: Harrie Rutten, 2014; Bottom: Harrie Rutten his observatory, 2014




N A S A C L I M AT E C H A N G E the ha r v est

ISABELLE HAY: Some photos on the Images of Change

get altimetry data, you’re not going to get a photo. So a

website are older than the Internet. What was behind the

lot of the images you see are taken by the Landsat Satel-

curation of these images onto a web platform?

lite – I think we’re on Landsat 9. Holly and I go to the Landsat website and harvest the actual photographic im-

LAURA TENENBAUM: Climate change is very visual.

ages there. We then make them user friendly for the pub-

You can tell the story with words, but the story can also

lic. So we have to Photoshop them – but I don’t want to

be told with pictures. Some of the images date back to the

say they’re Photoshopped because that sounds like we’re

late 1800s, when women wore bustles and men wore top

doctoring the photos.

hats. In one of my favorite images, you can actually see a photographer and camera in the late 1800s in Alaska. I

ISABELLE: That’s interesting though. What are you do-

actually was the one who pulled those images together.

ing to them?

They are from the National Snow and Ice Data Center, funded by NASA, out of the University of Colorado. The

LAURA: Well, they come out in a format that’s not very

modern glaciologists found these very old images and

user friendly. So we have to cut and size them properly.

would go to the same longitude and latitude at the same time of year, and take the exact same photo.

HOLLY: Then we’ll put them on the site and make a before and after image, as well as a video to go through our

ISABELLE: So with the more recent images, how did you

carousel on our homepage. A before and after video.

all choose those locations? Were you aware of the changes that were taking place there prior to taking the image?

ISABELLE: In regards to the Images of Change app, were you trying to encourage exposure of these images in the

LAURA: These satellites are flying 24/7, taking photo-

public eye? Were they reserved to scientists and geolo-

graphs 24/7. All three of us could spend our entire career

gists before this?

just looking through the data record of NASA’s satellites, and we wouldn’t cover them all. It’s a matter of collating

LAURA: Absolutely not. It’s for everybody. There are

the images.

people whose sole jobs is to make sure the academic community or the corporate community has access to

HOLLY SHAFTEL: We don’t look at these images with

information that they need. For example, oil rigs need to

a trained eye, like some of the people who work with

know sea level data.

these science teams. I would even consider myself an untrained eye. So if there is a clear distinction between

HOLLY: Yes, they were originally intended for the general

the two images then that’s worthy of putting on our site.

public. We magnify them on social media: on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and a little on Google Plus. We started

ISABELLE: How are the images rendered from the satellites?

doing this in showing the images, lately we’ve been moving to videos. We’re actually in the middle of a redesign

LAURA: The different satellites have different instrumen-

for this gallery – to present the images ‘bigger and better.’

tation on them. Some have scatterometers, some have

We want to make the web version of Images of Change,

altimeters. If you have an altimeter you’re only going to

like the app, just as cool and user friendly.

Opposite: River Changes, China. 2001 – 2009. Courtesy of NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS and the U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team.; Follwing spread: Urban Growth, China. July 1992 – April 2012. Courtesy of USGS/NASA Landsat.




This huge challenge is an opportunity to grow, and be what we could be as a society.

LAURA: NASA has four main mandates. One of the four

with DDT. Laws were passed to stop spraying DDT, en-

is to engage the next generation of scientists. Part of the

vironmentalists saved the eggs of Pelicans, and the Brown

fabric of NASA is that every single thing that we do is

Pelican came back. Nature wants to live.

in the public domain. All of this stuff would be out there even if Holly and I didn’t exist. We are like librarians with

HOLLY: And nature tries to fix itself.

this enormous library. We come along and say look, this is what we believe the public is wanting. We listen closely

ISABELLE: So much of these photos revolve around wa-

and carefully to what the public is interested in. Believe

ter: glaciers melting, river and lake shrinkage or growth,

me, the amount of satellites that we have, the amount of

flooding. Is water the central element of climate change?

observations that they’re taking, if the average person was trying to find something, they’d get lost in a maze forever.

HOLLY: Water is so central. 70% of the Earth is covered

Holly and I’s position is to make sure that the public has

in water.

the best possible access in the best possible way to the NASA images and data.

LAURA: We made a mistake calling it planet Earth.

ISABELLE: How do we know the difference between natu-

HOLLY: Right, it’s planet Ocean.

ral cycles and changes imposed on nature by man? What are the bench marks that you look for?

ISABELLE: What does the future look like? Frightening? Fixable? Adaptable? Have you gained enough under-

HOLLY: It’s clear when you look at urban expansion; like

standing from these images to know what it will be?

the islands in the United Arab Emirates. The image of the Aral Sea is clearly due to over irrigation.

LAURA: I have a whole spiel! Can you imagine if every time something negative happened at NASA we shrunk?

LAURA: I’m going to answer this question with a ques-

This huge challenge is an opportunity to grow, and be what

tion from an interview I had yesterday: If a baseball play-

we could be as a society. As a culture we’ve been taught to

er took steroids how do you tell if their homeruns are be-

embrace greed. So this is a great time to embrace some-

cause they hit a homerun or because of the steroids? The

thing else: a better health for ourselves and our planet.

way that you can tell is by looking at their batting record before the steroids and look at their batting record after

HOLLY: The Solid Waste Authority in Florida takes waste

the steroids. So scientists doing this right now are looking

and converts it to energy. Environmentally friendly ener-

at that exact question: what percentage of any one event

gy. So this is an example of finding an opportunity in the

can we attribute to anthropogenic global warming, and

two biggest problems (pollution and garbage, and climate

what percentage are we attributing to natural change.

change) that we face.

HOLLY: Global warming on steroids!

ISABELLE: Talking to NASA is like talking to God in a way – you guys are like an all-knowing entity. In regards to

ISABELLE: Where one river shrinks another floods. The eco-

climate change, what are you guys working on right now?

systems surrounding these sites are damaged – the plant and animal life specifically. Have you seen moments of repair?

LAURA: We have a suite of 20 Earth-orbiting satellites. We have six airborne missions this year – planes with NASA

LAURA: My husband and I had found a Peregrine Falcon.

instruments – collecting all sorts of data from trees, ice in

All my friends said “Peregrine Falcons? I thought they

Greenland, coral reefs. It’s ongoing.

were endangered? I thought they were almost extinct.” The falcons are now coming back, even in the city. Hu-

HOLLY: We even have balloons that have reached the edge

mans took the Brown Pelican to the brink of extinction

of space. Eyes on everything, everywhere, in every way.

Opposite: Topaz Solar Farm, California. October 2011 – January 2015. Courtesy of USGS/NASA Landsat. Following spread: Artificial Islands, United Arab Emirates. November 2001 – November 2012. Courtesy of USGS/NASA Landsat.







Josh Shagam, Semblance XXIV, 2015.



Josh Shagam, Semblance XXV, 2015.





Robin Cracknell, Magnox Al 80, 2013.





Carlo Alberto Rusca, from Ultra Corpo ciclo 1, 2014.


FA B I A N O E F N E R swi s s p reci si o n

ANDREA BLANCH: In previous interviews, you’ve

very rational way like it’s often been done in science, or

mentioned aiming for a Jackson Pollock style of action

in a very emotional way as it’s been done in art. I’m try-

painting. What other artists’ or scientists’ processes are

ing to find intersections between emotional and rational

you influenced by?

approaches to our environment.

FABIAN OEFNER: Salvador Dali is one of my largest influ-

ANDREA: You work with potentially dangerous materials,

ences. Not in terms of aesthetic reasons, but more in terms

such as alcohol and fire in the 2014 Aurora series. In your

of conceptual reasons, which holds a theme of surrealism

work, have you ever encountered any dangerous situations?

and a dream world that he referred to. What I’m trying to do with my photographs, and when you look at the older

FABIAN: Yeah, quite often. The alcohol project with the

works – like the Jackson Pollock inspired ones where you

burning of alcohol was actually quite scary. I did it for the

see paint spiraling at a split second – that was a real mo-

first time and I wasn’t prepared for such a violent reaction.

ment in time. I used to do, and still do, photographs of

Photography was not in the foreground – it was more try-

split seconds: photographing events that happened in real

ing to take cover and get yourself out of the situation. And

life, like paint being thrown around, even though they’re

then I tried to find a more controlled experiment.

too quick for us to look at with the naked eye. They’re really there. In the Disintegrating series, where cars are com-

ANDREA: Your dedication to making the invisible vis-

ing apart, the idea behind it was to invent a moment in

ible and connecting different senses reminds me of a lot

time. When you look at those photographs, you think you

of Synesthesia phenomenon, an anomalous blending of

see a car disintegrating or exploding, when, in fact, it never

the senses, in which the stimulation of one modality si-

really existed. It’s just a cleverly made illusion of a car be-

multaneously produces a sensation in a different modal-

ing disintegrated, so I’m trying to evolve the idea of, what

ity. Basically, it’s a conceptual condition of mixed sen-

exactly is time? How do we perceive time? Photography is

sations. Are you interested in that concept?

the perfect medium, because it’s the medium of recording time, holding onto time, creating memories. And that’s the

FABIAN: When I do my projects, I don’t think that far. For

conceptual part of my work, which you don’t necessarily

me, it doesn’t feel like blending two different fields together

need to know about to appreciate the images.

– it’s not concept that brings together art and science, it’s a very natural process of fusing what other people would refer

ANDREA: So why do you think it’s important for art and

to as scientific tools to create art. I didn’t sit down and think:

science to intersect?

‘Now I’m going to combine art and science!’

FABIAN: Because they both have the same goal: to better

ANDREA: Would you put yourself in that genre?

understand the environment and the time we’re living in – it’s a reaction to our surroundings, and we shouldn’t

FABIAN: I would say so. I can’t deny that it’s connected

divide those two fields, as it has often been done. It’s just

to science. If you want to put it in a field, then science is

another approach to look at the same thing. When you

the one that it’s closest to.

combine the two, you find so much more about what’s going on around you, rather than to exclusively use a

ANDREA: What projects do you have coming up?

Portrait ©Studio Oefner. Following spreads: (first) Disintegrating No. 02, 2015; (second) Millefiori No. 12, 2013. (third) Disintegrating No. 04, 2013; (fourth) Millefiori No. 08, 2012.


FABIAN: A few ones I can’t talk about and another one

ANDREA: In your work, you often focus on automobiles:

is something in 3D. It’s a non-commercial project. In the

Hatch and State of the Art. When did you become inter-

end, it’s going to be a sculpture, but I’m combining pho-

ested in cars?

tography and using all the knowledge and experience I’ve acquired from my past projects into this new project, so a

FABIAN: I’ve been interested in cars since I was a little

lot technical equipment will be involved.. Basically, it’s a

boy. Now, when I use cars in my art, it’s not because I find

split-second frozen in time as a sculpture.

it a fascinating object, aesthetically speaking, but because almost every person on the planet has an opinion on cars

ANDREA: Sounds like an interesting concept. Aren’t

or an emotional connection to them. That’s why I found

sculptures frozen in time?

it a very good object to use as a conveyor to transport ideas and get ideas across to people. It’s something that

FABIAN: Yes, to a certain extent, but it’s really the theme of

everybody understands.

that sculpture and not so much a side-note of the sculpture. ANDREA: So you’re saying that this is your way of comANDREA: Much of your work is about capturing and

municating? By using a car as your subject?

magnifying tiny moments in time. Do you think that the poetry of science is invisible to the naked human eye? Do

FABIAN: For certain projects, yes. I’ve done very few proj-

you believe it’s art’s duty to amplify the poetry of science?

ects with cars, but they’re the ones that get a lot of attention.

FABIAN: Yes, it can amplify science. Art can help in look-

ANDREA: You said that your collaboration with Ferrari

ing at science in a different way, but what I’m not try-

came about because they saw your TED Talk. What was

ing to do is to create didactic art – I don’t want to teach

Ferrari attracted to?

people something through art. If they just want to look at the image and appreciate the image for its beauty, then

FABIAN: Two months before a conference, I got a call from

that’s fine with me too. As an artist, you can never control

TED, and they asked me if I’d like to come on. They had

100% of what your art is about or how it’s perceived. To

seen an article in a scientific magazine. I thought it was an

me, that’s not the job of the artist.

interesting combination of bringing art and science together. I was trying to evolve that idea in this talk. Ferrari saw

ANDREA: What do you want viewers to take away from

it after it had gone online with about two million views.

your work? What thoughts are you seeking to provoke?

I guess Ferrari thought it was something new, something fresh that they and their audience hadn’t seen before.

FABIAN: It would like them to think about their environment. To embrace that beautiful tiny moment and the magic

ANDREA: You constructed your own mythology around

that’s happening around each and every one of us every day.

the origin of an unnatural object – the automobile – in Hatch. How did you construct that birth narrative?

ANDREA: Being present. Are you spiritual? FABIAN: Again, it’s a very natural process for me. I don’t FABIAN: Yeah, I’m more of an irrational-type spiritual

exactly recall the moment where I thought I could do a

person. Certainly, doing the art that I do, one has to be

birth of an object, rather than a human being or a living

spiritual in one way or another.

organism. I think 10 years from now you would have to do it with a smart phone – I believe that that’s the new

ANDREA: The picture of Ai Weiwei recreating the image

car, the object that will one day be more important than

of the Syrian child that was washed ashore, a refugee. A

the car. Up until now, it’s still the car that stands for our

lot of people thought it was very crass and cheap. I didn’t,

‘achievements’ in technology and life. In 10 years, I be-

but a lot of people did. What do you think about it?

lieve more people will be emotionally connected to the smart phone rather than the car.

FABIAN: From an artist’s point of view, it fits really well in his body of work; from a social point of view, anything

ANDREA: You don’t think they are now? Especially

that helps to point out the disasters happening there and

younger people.

to prevent these things from happening any further, is a benefit. People can be cynical about it and say it was

FABIAN: Yeah. But I think until that generation becomes the

very cheap, and that he gained more popularity from it.

key generation or the generation that determines our soci-

But I’m sure it wasn’t about that.

ety, it’d be another 10 years. But you’re absolutely right – it’s


already a more influential object among younger people.

FABIAN: In Field of Sound, I was evolving the idea of creating something out of sound or using sound to create

ANDREA: So how did you construct that? Technically?

art. Having done it with photography already in Dancing Color, I thought that viewers can interact even further or

FABIAN: That was pretty straightforward – using the

understand the concept on another level if I do some-

model of that car, and creating a lot of plaster molds of

thing that they can walk around, look at, touch, and hear.

it. Basically, throwing that mold on top of the original

That’s why I created Field of Sound. It’s the same idea of

model car, which gives you the illusion of the shell being

using sound to create – it’s just another medium to reach

exploded off of the car. In fact, it’s actually drawn on the

more people.

car. It’s a sort of technical trick. ANDREA: You never had any formal training? ANDREA: How did you execute Disintegrating? Did you photograph them individually like a montage?

FABIAN: Originally, I studied product design, so I know quite a bit about manufacturing processes, as well as in-

FABIAN: Yeah, basically. I did a couple of newer ones of

teresting and innovative material. That still helps me a

that series which will come out soon.

lot with developing the project, whether it’s the Field of Sound series or the Ferrari project.

ANDREA: In this series, how do you see the concepts of motion and emotion intersecting?

ANDREA: What do you think about the world of photography, art, and science traversing each other? Is it exciting

FABIAN: In that case, I believe it’s the motion that creates the

for you? For instance, using an iPhone supposedly makes

emotion – the viewer looks at the photograph and believes

everybody a photographer. I don’t think that way.

to see a motion frozen in time, when, in fact, there is no motion at all. In creating those photographs, it’s like the slow-

FABIAN: I feel the same way about it, but it all feels more

est high-speed photography in human history. It took three

natural to me than it feels to you. I think the medium of

months to photograph it – it’s an extremely tedious process.

photography still presents a very important role, it just

But, then again, I’m Swiss, and we’re watchmakers, so…

changes in the way we value photographs.

ANDREA: That’s very true, very precision oriented. So,

ANDREA: Do you think you’ll use 3D?

why were you attracted to photography as a medium? FABIAN: In my case, 3D is quite an ancient technique FABIAN: To me, it’s been a tool to explore my work. I start-

to use. The whole social media realm is a more interest-

ed doing photographs when I was around 12. The camera

ing question because it’s all about getting ideas across,

has always been a natural object to me; it’s not something

whether it’s photography or sculpture or any other art

that I had to learn. I was very intuitive about taking pic-

form. The question is more about the channels you use

tures. Through the camera, you can learn about what’s

for your idea, rather than the medium.

going on around you and capture interesting things. ANDREA: And the process? ANDREA: Since you started photography, it’s really progressed. Now you have started using other mediums like

FABIAN: Yes. For artists, the process in general has become

Field of Sound that have taken you outside of the two-

much more important, especially for someone with social

dimensional realm. You’ve done video, but now you’re

media. In the past, you would go to museums to look at the

doing performance with Field of Sound. How did that

final artwork, and, at best, you would have an explanation

transition take place?

about how the artist created that picture, painting, or sculpture. Now, everybody already takes part in the creation of

FABIAN: I don’t know if you have seen the Dancing Col-

the artwork because, with the whole social media thing,

ors series where you would see salt grains dancing on a

you share the whole process of the art with your audience

speaker. The idea was to visualize sound or music through

when you start doing it. I’m the older generation because

a visual medium like photography, so I put salt grains on a

I’m 31. Young artists starting now already have a better un-

speaker and played music through it. Depending on what

derstanding of what you can do with social media, because

kind of music you would play, the salt grains would dance.

they have grown up with it. To me, it doesn’t feel as natural as to somebody who is in their twenties or even younger.

ANDREA: I loved that concept! I think it’s brilliant.

It’s something new, something that I have to learn.

Fabian Oefner. Following spread: Still Photograph from the Project The Visualisation of Speed; in collaboration with Ferrari.





Sasha Tamarin, TU-154, 2013.





Roberta Trentin, Bios/βίος (2013), 2013



M. Apparition, Delicata de la Concepciรณn, 2006/8.



M. Apparition, Delicata de la Concepciรณn, 2006.


A DA M B R O O M B E R G & O L I V E R C H A N A R I N the a r t o f p ro f ilin g b y Ar th u r M i l l er In the 21st century art itself along with such concepts as

eliminating shadows while providing enough data for a

aesthetics has undergone radical transformations. Not

three-dimensional facial reconstruction. Broomberg and

unexpectedly this came about from the fusing of art with

Chanarin explore the situation in which such cameras

science and technology into what I call in my recent book,

can possess sufficient clarity for facial recognition.

Colliding Worlds: How Cutting-Edge Science is Redefin-

To do so they built a prototype of the new Russian sur-

ing Contemporary Art,” a “Third Culture,” from which

veillance cameras equipped with four lenses. Over

has emerged an “artsci” which I predict will eventually

1,000 Muscovites volunteered as models for their photo

be referred to simply as “art.” This avant-garde has come

‘shoot’, including the Pussy Riot band member Yekat-

to fruition in our Age of Information, the Age of Big Data.

erina Samutsevich. The photographs are extraordinary.

In their stunning book, Spirit is a Bone, the British-based

“What we’re seeing is the negation of that humanity: the

photographers Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin

digital equivalent of a death mask,” they write. The sub-

look at what happens when technology and big data fuse

jects are portrayed in black and white from above, below,

with photography. The first two hundred pages are made

profile and three-quarter view. The result is that there are

up of portraits on the right-hand page with the subject’s

no shadows in their portraits.

profession on the opposite page. Then follows thirty

Bloomberg and Chanarin selected one of these angles,

pages of text from a conversation between the photogra-

different ones for different people, and trimmed it in such

phers and Elyl Weizman, professor of Spatial and Visual

a way as to display only the face as if it were lifted off

Cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London.

the skull. It’s two dimensional but appears to have three.

Bloomberg and Chanarin’s theme is surveillance art, a

Expressions are bland because the subjects are assumed

medium spun out of surveillance methods ratcheted up

to have been unaware of being photographed and so are

with 21st century technology - video-recording devices,

unposed, passive. On the facing page the subject’s profes-

closed-circuit television and digital cameras hooked up

sion appears but no names.

to hard discs. London is one of the most heavily sur-

The book’s title is taken from Hegel’s The Phenomenolo-

veilled cities where cameras are constantly recording.

gy of Spirit, where he discusses the two pseudo-sciences,

Bloomberg and Chanarin have focussed on another high-

physiognomy and phrenology. In the former, facial ex-

ly surveilled society, President Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

pressions are critical and in the latter it is the material-

In a famous appearance on Russian television, the Na-

ity of the skull underneath that is supposed to reveal the

tional Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden

essential truth about the subject. In Nazi Germany these

asked Putin whether the government spies on its citi-

two subjects cost millions their lives.

zens by monitoring their communications. Speaking to

Today building up a person’s face from their skull, fo-

Snowden as one spy to another, Putin denied this, insist-

rensic anthropology, or facial recognition, is used to pass

ing that it was against the law in Russia.

judgement on the subject only as regards whether the

Actually Snowden didn’t phrase the question precisely

skull belongs to a murder victim or perhaps the mur-

enough. Like England, Russia is highly surveilled with

derer. Whereas facial marks from a knife or other weapon

closed-circuit cameras and this is what most interests

can heal, if deep enough they are forever embedded in

Broomberg and Chanarin. The reason is that a new gen-

the skull. Although DNA analysis can now identify a

eration of camera has appeared in Russia. Using an array

skeleton, what the person actually looked like is another

of lenses it can shoot a face from different angles thereby

matter. This requires adroit handiwork such as plotting

Portrait by artist to come. All images of Sprit Is A Bone, by Adam Bromberg & Oliver Chanarin published by Mack. ©Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin 2015 courtesy MACK



Opposite and above: ŠAdam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin 2015 courtesy MACK


contours when building up facial tissue. Sometimes the

Jews, gypsies, thieves, political agitators (aka revolu-

reconstructed facial tissue can be overlaid with a photo-

tionaries), etc. Whereas Sander employed an 8x10 inch

graph of the alleged person for further verification.

plate camera, Bloomberg and Chanarin used a camera

The truth is in the bones, as Hegel argued. After all bones are

purpose-built for facial recognition.

unchanging even in death, unless chipped away for plastic

Nowadays photographs serve in the search for individu-

surgery which is easily detected. What can we say about the

als rather than groups. Photo-id is required just about ev-

link between the skull and what overlays it, the face?

erywhere in order to identify an individual. At borders,

What Broomberg and Chanarin have done in their book

such as airports, additional photographs are often taken.

is to create an archive inspired by August Sander’s Citi-

But these photographs are not a recourse to physiogno-

zens of the Twentieth Century. Sanders began it after

my – you are usually instructed not to smile. The photo-

World War I in Weimar Germany but was interrupted by

graphs in this book go beyond a photo-id. Although two

the advent of World War II. It contains the faces of bank-

dimensional they appear to be wrapped like skin around

ers, poets, revolutionaries, the unemployed, migrants

a skull and so form a new sort of representation, which

and so on, often named. Sander’s archive was studied

“returns us back to the [unchanging] skull, and the ‘truth’

closely, read and reread, interpreted and reinterpreted.

underneath the face,” writes Elyl Weizman. In this way

In Nazi Germany it took on a new and sinister meaning

we return to a form of the phrenological principle of pre-

following the doctrine of Aryan supremacy effectively

diction, “of looking at various patterns to see the future,”

sentencing certain racial groups to death. Bloomberg

says Weizman. However, he continues, the future is the

and Chanarin “see disturbing parallels of this totalitarian

domain of the algorithms whose grist are the big data sets

regime in present-day Russia,” which is why they chose

that make up digital photographs.

Russia as the stage for their project.

Bloomberg and Chanarin’s work is a fine example of the

Bloomberg and Chanarin’s archive differs from Sand-

fusion of art and technology giving rise to images never

ers in many ways. They never state names, only pro-

seen before. They are the product of more than art and

fessions. One photograph has the caption “The Revo-

technology moving ahead hand in hand. Rather these

lutionary.” The face belongs to the Pussy Riot band

two disciplines are merged into a single discipline. This

member, Yekaterina Samutsevich. What the state ma-

leads to a new aesthetic which is the sum of the visual

chinery sought in Sander’s photographs, as it did in

image and the technology that produces it. Only through

Alphonse Bertillon’s ‘mug shots’ in Paris in 1879, was

understanding this new technology can the work of art

types, whether people who looked a certain way were

be most deeply appreciated.

Above: ©Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin 2015 courtesy MACK. Opposite: Casual Labourer.




©Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin 2015 courtesy MACK



Above: ŠAdam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin 2015 courtesy MACK. Opposite: The Philosopher.







Penelope Umbrico, Installation View: Everyone’s Photos Any License (654 of 1,146,034 Full Moons on Flickr, November 2015), 2015







Penelope Umbrico, Installation view: Four photographs of Rays of Sunlight in Grand Central Station, Grand Central Terminal, 1903-1913, 1920, 1926, 1928, 1929, 1934, 1937, 1940, 1930-1940, 1935-1941, 1947, or 2010, by John Collier, Philip Gendreau Herbert, Edward Hulton, Kurt Hulton,Edward Lunch, Maxi, Hal Morey, Henry Silberman, Warren and Wetmore Trowbridge, Underwood & Underwood, Unknown, or Anonymous (Courtesy: Associated Press, the author, Bettmann/Corbis, Hal Morey / Getty Images, Getty Images, Hulton Collection, Hulton-Getty, Hutton Collection, New York City Municipal Archives, New York Transit Museum, New York City Parks and Landmarks, Royal Geographical Society, SuperStock/ Corbis, Underwood & Underwood, Warren and Wetmore, or Image in Public Domain), 2015



Brice Krummenacker, Top: Office; Bottom: Tinder Profile; 2015



Brice Krummenacker, Top: Robert Phone Home, 2015.


B I L L V I O L A ti m e ’s pa l ette

“Between How and Why.” (in: Bill Viola. “Reasons for

vidual, and on the confusing mix of signals and messages swirling

Knocking at an Empty House. Writings 1973-1994.” Ed-

around us that do not address a human being’s fundamental need

ited by Robert Violette in collaboration with the author.

to know and live the “why” of life. Talk of machines, technologies,

Thames and Hudson Ltd, London in association with the

capabilities, costs, markets, infrastructures, offers no guidance and

Anthony D’Offay Gallery, London, 1995, pp. 256-257.)

is inadequate and irrelevant to the development of our inner lives.

First published as a statement for the catalogue Medien-

This is why art today, traditionally the articulation and expression

kunstpreis (Karlsruhe, Germany: Zentrum für Kunst und

of the “why” side of life, is now so important and vital, even though

Medientechnologie, 1993) Courtesy: Bill Viola Studio.

it remains confused and inconsistent in its response to the new demands and responsibilities placed on it in this time of transition.

The technologies of the optical image (photography, cinema,

The new technologies of image-making are by necessity bringing us

video) are machines for the close of the machine age. They are

back to fundamental questions, whether we want to face them or not.

machines that produce content, that have as their product the

The development of schemes for the creation of images with comput-

direct imprints of the outside world. They give us the world

ers is an investigation into the structure and fabric of the world we

back, and for this they are much more profound and mysterious

observe and participate in. Spend time with a video camera and you

than people realize. By nature they are instruments not primar-

will confront some of the primary issues: What is this fleeting image

ily of vision, but of philosophy in an original ancient sense.

called life? Why are we here sharing the living moment, a moment

Looking at the videotape recorder, it is difficult to realize that this

that is past yet present? And why are the essential elements of life

machine, this object, comes from the earth. The metals and plas-

change, movement, and transformation, but not stability, immobil-

tics that comprise its physical mass are all earth materials. They

ity, and constancy? Faced with the content of the direct images and

come from the ground. Even the electricity that activates it is a

sounds of life in one’s daily practice as an artist, questions of form,

fundamental element of the natural environment. The history

visual appearance, and the “how” of image-making drop away. You

of much of human culture, particularly in the Western world,

realize that the real work for this time is not abstract, theoretical, and

has centered on the development of the material. The contempo-

speculative - it is urgent, moral, and practical.

rary electronic technologies of video and computer are simply the

Responding in an adequate way to the questions of “why” de-

most recent stage of this evolution. Historically in the West, the

mands a new balance between the emotions and the intellect,

work of Isaac Newton, and the scientific revolution that followed

and a reintegration of the emotions, along with the very hu-

him, greatly accelerated the emphasis on the material. His dis-

man qualities of compassion and empathy, into the science of

coveries and new approach shifted the inquiry into the nature of

knowledge. Our work today as artists is not about describing

the world from religious/philosophical to scientific speculation,

the arrival at and possession of a goal, but instead it is about

from emotive affinities to material causes, from empathy to rea-

illuminating the pathway. It is not about a system of proofs

son: the apple now falls not because it desires to be at its proper

and declarations, but a process of Being and Becoming.

resting place, the earth, but because a physical force called grav-

Media art, in its possession of new technologies of time and im-

ity pulls it there; the celestial becomes mechanical, and the pri-

age, maintains a special possibility of speaking directly in the

mary mode of questioning the world becomes not why, but how.

language of our time, but in its capacity as art, it has an even

Today, at the close of the twentieth century, we are finding that

greater potential to address the deeper questions and mysteries

questions of “how” are not enough to carry us forward through the

of the human condition. This is the challenge to the media arts

millennium. The crisis today in the industrialized world is a crisis

at the turning point of the century and the passage into the

of the inner life, not of the outer world. It is focused on the indi-

millennium that lies just before us.

Portrait by Paul Rusconi, Los Angeles, April 2014. All following images from Bill Viola, 2015, published by Thames & Hudson.


Over the years, I continue to explore the profound themes of human existence, life, death, and their mysteries.

MUSÉE MAGAZINE: When I was speaking with you at

BILL: A work that was first shown at MoMA in New

your opening, you mentioned that you’ve been returning to

York in 1987, Passage, takes 7.5 hours to unfold. The

your old notebooks, and that you wanted to revisit your old

tape that was edited for this piece is 23 minutes long,

work. What prompted you to revisit your past catalogue?

but the playback machine plays it at 1/16th speed, so we see one frame at a time. The images are of a 4-year-old’s

BILL VIOLA: My notebooks are filled with ideas for new

birthday party, and when slowed down and “stretched”

works. One or two will surface as I scan them from time

so much, still contain the essence of the emotions that

to time. Sometimes an idea appears in my notebooks sev-

these children are experiencing. This way, this delight-

eral times over the years in slightly different forms, until

ful experience is held for longer, something that all of us

the work is finally ready to be created.

have wanted to do, to stop or slow down time in order to capture the moment.

MUSÉE: Your recent exhibition of “Inverted Birth” (2014) at James Cohan Gallery is reminiscent of “Emergence” (2002,

MUSÉE: In your talk “The Movement In The Moving Im-

commissioned by the J. Paul Getty Museum)—do you see it

age” at UC Berkeley (2009), you mentioned that, when

as a continuation, and do you often see later pieces as con-

making art, you have a very clear image in your head

tinuations of your earlier work? Or an elaboration, perhaps?

that you want to create in reality. Do you make visual modifications in the process of creating your videos, or

BILL: Over the years, I continue to explore the profound

does it usually not deviate far from your original ideas?

themes of human existence, life, death, and their mysteries. The same questions are found in all my works, just

BILL: My ideas come in different ways. Sometimes I see

expressed in new ways.

the whole piece at once and it is a matter of filling in

These two works you mention contain a paradox–they

the details while shooting. Often, however, the “whole

somehow represent birth and death at the same time. In

piece” is not the end of it, but other parts happen in the

“Emergence”, a young man rises from a watery cistern as

making that resolve the work and give it depth. Other

in a kind of ascension, he is alive and yet he is also dead.

times I need to develop an idea to bring it to life. Perform-

“Inverted Birth” depicts a series of violent actions run in

ers also bring a level of collaboration that can develop

reverse, as if the person is awakening from the dead, and

the idea. My longtime partner Kira Perov also assists in

yet his transformation is also a birth.

helping with creative decisions.

MUSÉE: Spirituality and theology are two major themes in

MUSÉE: When you’re working on a project, what comes

your work. How did your fascination with that genre start?

first: the technology or the concept? How does technology influence ideas, and, conversely, how do ideas influ-

BILL: Spirituality is not a genre, it is a lifelong experience,

ence technology?

a search for a path, or some answers… Theology per se is not really part of this search nor part of my work. I have

BILL: I have been very fortunate that technology and my

used some religious metaphors in a few of my pieces

work have had a parallel development, allowing me to

(“Emergence” is one of them), but religious art is over-

be constantly expanding my palette. In some cases the

whelming in its representation of the emotions and the

idea for a piece comes before the technology is ready, and

mysteries, and the artists who created these works were

then I am pushing its limits. Sometimes the invention

extraordinary in their skills. It is impossible to ignore the

of a piece of equipment inspires the work, as with the

Renaissance, for example, or Orthodox icons, or Greek

advent of flat panel screens that could be mounted on a

sculptures of the gods.

wall. The first thing I did was to turn them vertically, then I was able to make video portraits and do a study of the

MUSÉE: You’ve mentioned that “emotion is a kind of

emotions, the “Passions” series. Using these tools has al-

movement”—how do you believe the medium of film best

lowed me to extend and expand my vision, and continue

captures emotion?

exploring the inner essence of the world around me.

Bill Viola, Martyrs (Earth, Air, Fire, Water), 2014 (installation view) Color High-Definition video polyptych on four vertical plasma displays. 55 x 133 x 4 in (140 x 338 x 10 cm) Duration: 7:15 minutes Executive producer, Kira Perov Performers: Norman Scott, Sarah Steben, Darrow Igus, John Hay Photo: Peter Mallet



Bill Viola. Earth Martyr, 2014. Color High-Definition video on flat panel display, 42 3/8 x 24 1/2 x 2 5/8 in. (107.6 x 62.1 x 6.8 cm), 7:10 minutes, Executive producer: Kira Perov, Performer: Norman Scott


Bill Viola. Water Martyr, 2014. Color High-Definition video on flat panel display, 42 3/8 x 24 1/2 x 2 5/8 in. (107.6 x 62.1 x 6.8 cm), 7:10 minutes, Executive producer: Kira Perov, Performer: John Hay


Bill Viola. Above and opposite: Inverted Birth, 2014, Video/sound installation, Color high-definition video projection on screen mounted vertically and anchored to floor in dark room; stereo sound with subwoofer (2.1), Projected image size: 16 ft 5 in. x 9 ft 3 in. (5 x 2.81 m), 8:22 minutes, Executive producer: Kira Perov, Performer: Norman Scott






Jerry Takigawa, False Food Untitled F-300, 2010.






Julius von Bismarck, Catatumbo I, 2015. Courtesy of Alexander Levy, Berlin





Marcus DeSieno, A Photograph of the Crab Nebula Eaten by Bacteria Found on a Table at a Red Lobster Restaurant, 2014.




Marcus DeSieno, A Photograph of the Planet Saturn Eaten by Bacteria Found on an Adulterer’s Engagement Ring, 2015







Marcus DeSieno, A Photograph of the Whirlpool Galaxy Eaten by Bacteria Found in a Motel’s Heart-Shaped Hot Tub, 2014




Marcus DeSieno, Top: A Photograph of the Planet Venus Eaten by Bacteria Found Inside My Ex-Girlfriend’s Vagina, 2014; Bottom: A Photograph of the Baby Boom Galaxy Eaten by Bacteria Found in My Father’s Saliva, 2015




Marcus DeSieno, A Photograph of a Gas Cloud Above a Black Hole Eaten by Bacteria Found Inside a Glory Hole, 2015


N A S A S PAC E ar bi trar y sel ecti o n

i n trod u c ti on b y Joh n Hut t

The language of space can seem like the language of hyperbole: the

We typically have a paper or figures from the principal

light of a thousand dying stars, the mass of twenty-five suns in

investigator (PI) and scientist studying the object in ques-

the area of less than a pinprick, billions and billions of millennia.

tion. Then our team researches that initial data to see what

This is a symptom of our inability to process or grasp anything

points we’ll be communicating, what the story of the sci-

close to the infinite.

ence is. We have a science imager who then works on the

Though, the only thing more terrifying than an infinite universe

data according to that initial guiding science concept, and

is a finite universe.

then we meet as a group to review drafts, further refine the

Our eyes are as limited as our brains; we can only see a tiny frac-

science being discussed, confirm points of clarity and aes-

tion of light, so in an attempt to wrap our heads around the rest

thetics, and edit the visual representation until all (or most)

of the vast spectrum of light, we color images in hues that we can

of the group is satisfied. That version is then parsed back

understand. We point our telescopes and measure X-rays from

to the PI until they are also satisfied. Finally, the materials

far away galaxies, we measure the heat of oxygen in supernovas,

are circulated among another team of scientists at the CXC,

and we hear about black holes eating each other. Doesn’t it feel


good to say “we” in these contexts? As if you or I had any hand in astrophysics, space telescopes, or could measure the hydrogen

JOHN: How does the process of taking an astronomical

density of a cloud of interstellar dust.

picture differ from that of a digital camera or a tradi-

Who is actually responsible for making aesthetic decisions about

tional camera?

these pictures of space? Is there someone deciding that the hydrogen should be a certain shade of blue? How does data that we are physi-

KIMBERLY: When a satellite observes an object in space,

cally unable to see get transposed onto something we can see? Is there

its camera records photons, a packet of energy that makes

an artist-in-residence making these pictures? How do they do it?

up electromagnetic radiation. These recordings of packets of energy come down to Earth from the spacecraft via

So we asked Kimberly Kowal Arcand, the Visualization Lead at

NASA’s Deep Space network coded in the form of 1’s and

the Chandra X-Ray Center and the Smithsonian Astrophysical

0’s. Scientific software then translates that data into a table

Observatory. She also wrote a book on this subject entitled “Col-

that contains the time, energy, and position of each photon

oring the Universe” with Megan Watzke and Travis Rector.

that struck the detector during the observation. The data is further processed with software to form the visual repre-

JOHN HUTT: Who is responsible for making the final call

sentation of the object.

on the aesthetic decisions of X-ray or composite images?

There are some major overlapping elements, the main one being the use of CCD detectors. Just like in many digital

KIMBERLY KOWAL ARCAND: It is not one person. The

cameras, most astronomical observatories today use CCDs.

responsibility rests with, in our case, the Chandra commu-

To get around the scale and field-of-view issue, multiple

nications group and the Chandra Mission as a whole. Our

CCDs can be used in a single camera. Astronomy also uses

group has PhD astrophysicists, a Science Imager, a Visu-

broadband and narrowband filters, so for example, a hy-

alization Lead, a Principal Investigator of a research team

drogen alpha (h-alpha) filter will isolate the light produced

that studies how people understand cosmic images, a sci-

by warm hydrogen gas. Filters are used to map characteris-

ence writer, an educator, as well as other members special-

tics, such as the temperature and density.

izing in computer science and data visualization.

Additionally, many telescopes use spectrometers. Chan-

Portrait by Kim Steph Ewens.


Like any photograph taken, there is of course some level of subjectivity, from the field of view selected to the colors applied.

dra has the High Energy Transmission Grating spectrom-

Experts, however, first wonder how the image was pro-

eter (HETG). Grating spectrometers can measure energy

duced, what information is being presented in the image,

to an accuracy of up to one part in a thousand, so they’re

and what the creators of the image wanted to convey.

used to study of detailed energy spectra, distinguishing

Another area where the experts and non-experts differ is in

individual X-ray lines. This allows researchers to explore

color. Non-experts don’t consider blue to be hot, but scien-

the temperature, ionization and chemical composition of

tists often do. Experts tend to visualize blue as hot and red

what we are looking at.

as cool. When you have an astronomical image that shows hot material around a galaxy, do you color it blue or red?

JOHN: Is there an agreed-upon color scheme for non-

The primarily red image might actually convey the heat of

visible light? Infra-Red is red, for example? What about

the object better, even though its color mapping would be

in composite images?

considered non-standard for a scientist. What is the intent of the image? For example (

KIMBERLY: We stick with the data in each case. There is

photo/2006/bhcen/) was originally in an inverse color

not an absolute “standard” color scheme per se, though

scheme of mostly blue with red loops. But a point of the

often astronomers assign colors in chromatic order with

science was the vast clouds of hot gas, which when colored

the lowest energy in red, middle in green, highest in blue.

blue looked frozen. So after testing the image, we changed

Sometimes (many times) that doesn’t work for the data,

it to be primarily red. It made the most sense for the data

or isn’t the point of the data. If, for example, we want to

and the audience.

showcase the elemental composition of an exploded star, chromatic RGB wouldn’t make sense.

JOHN: How much leeway do they have outside of the data?

JOHN: Since we (humanity now) put a lot of stock in what

KIMBERLY: The point is that the image processing – the

we see, the immediate reaction of the viewer is to piece to-

colorizing – is adding to the information quotient of the data.

gether an understanding based on the colors. The images

Like any photograph taken, there is of course some level

should be intuitive; how do you know what is intuitive?

of subjectivity, from the field of view selected to the colors applied. In X-ray imaging, for example, you are going

KIMBERLY: Our research project Aesthetics & Astronomy

completely outside the range of human vision, so all color

investigates just that. How do people respond to these im-

applied is representative. We also have a sort of aesthetic

ages aesthetically and contextually, experts and non-ex-

viewpoint that is common through many of our resulting

perts alike? What misconceptions might arise based on the

images, but the science drives the story and we keep our

initial visual response?

audience(s) in mind.

Starting with visual processing, what an expert sees when

“Retouching” may sound like a dirty word in this case, as

looking at an astronomical image is not necessarily what

it sounds like someone would be slimming the waistline

the novice sees.

of an exploded star. But there are necessary steps to move

In our studies, we’ve seen that the non-expert more often

from information that is inherently invisible to the human

moves from aesthetics to astronomy. Novices tend to be-

eye - coming from objects thousands, millions, or billions

gin with a sense of awe and wonder, and focus first on the

of light years away - to data that we can make visual and

aesthetic qualities of the astronomical image being shown.

contextual sense of.

Oopposite: Courtesy of NASA/CXC/SAO. Following spred: Courtesy of NASA/CXC/KIPAC/S.






Michael Jantzen, Down the Road, 2015







Michael Jantzen, Under Construction, 2015







Michael Jantzen, New Mexico Mirage, 2015







Michael Jantzen, Mobile Home Park, 2015




Netta Laufer, from the series 25ft: Top: Gazelle; Bottom: Dog, 2015.



Netta Laufer, from the series 25ft: Top: Dog; Bottom: Leopard, 2015.


M A R V I N H E I F E R M A N guest cura to r

STEVE MILLER: Marvin, the reason we thought about

MARVIN: What do you mean mess?

asking you to be a guest editor for this issue of Musée is because I knew you were working on a project related to

STEVE: Meaning, in the early history of photography

science and photography.

certain kinds of standards and qualities were set up by professional societies to organize these qualities. But


once amateurs got a hold of photography they started

raphy, Science, and Visual Culture”, and I’m organizing

to do whatever they wanted to do. Artists started using

it for University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC).

photography as a tool to pay homage to or challenge

It seems to me it’s an interesting time to be looking at

painting. So the idea that photography would remain in

how the sciences make and use photographs, and how

the realm of science was blown out the window. Now,

the sciences and scientists, themselves, are represented

in this conversation, we are coming back to photography

in photographic imaging. “SEEING SCIENCE” starts in

and science. How do you bring it back to science?

April and features various onsite components, but at the center of the project is a website (http://seeingscience.

MARVIN: Well, photography has always been useful to that over the course of a year, we will build up

multiple audiences. Early on, it was developed by people

the content on, and we hope will reach a broad audience.

who were “amateurs” who were, in fact, scientists needing to figure out a way to capture data and information.

STEVE: It’s a given that photography is an invention of sci-

Photography was a rarified pursuit and a rarified tool.

ence, and that one of the early hopes of photography was

But in the 1880s when George Eastman made snapshot

that it was going to be the dispassionate eye of observation.

cameras widely available, explorations in photography were not just for the amateur, gentleman scientists, but

MARVIN: Something important for me is to track how

for everyone. Scientists, artists, and the general public

that “eye of observation” idea plays out. I’m working on

adopt and adapt photography to suit their very differ-

a timeline about photographic imaging and the sciences,

ent desires and needs. They explore and set up different

that starts with the first known lens from 1000 BC; a piece

ways of seeing and evolve new vocabularies or dialects

of carved crystal believed to have been used to magnify

to do what they need or want to do.

something, and runs through recent images of Pluto. The first known use of the word ‘scientist’ was in 1834, by

STEVE: What about someone like Daguerre? I see him

a British scholar named William Whewell. The word pho-

as much an artist as anything else. How do you think

tography first appears in 1839. Science and photography

he saw himself?

go hand in hand, always have, always will. MARVIN: Daguerre was an entrepreneur, a scientist, a STEVE: So photography started out as a way to practice

painter, and a showman who produced spectacular diora-

and document science. But, soon amateurs, pornogra-

mas in 19th century Paris. He was uniquely positioned to

phers, and artists, came in and high-jacked this new in-

understand the multiple functions photography can serve.

vention as they looked for commercial applications and emotional interpretations. How do you sort out this mess

STEVE: So he was important in terms of the scientific and

today and the return to science?

technical aspects of photography?

Portrait by Michelle Leedy. Following spread: Crack extension in Anuket. 22/01/2015 8:00 pm. ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA


MARVIN: Daguerre was only one of many innovators who

MARVIN: Yes, and photograms were a novel and interest-

contributed to the early development of photography. At the

ing way to document and represent plant specimens and

same time the Daguerreotype was introduced, Henry Fox

structures. The fact that photographic images could be col-

Talbot was experimenting with paper negative and prints.

lected in books was yet another reason photography was

Twenty years or so before that, Thomas Wedgewood, a Brit-

embraced as an unprecedented way to share information.

ish scientist, and Nicéphore Niépce were making earlier, less

Photographic books blossomed in the 19th century. Charles

stable photographic images, most of which are lost to us.

Darwin’s 1872 The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, was one of the first scientific texts to include pho-

STEVE: And then after almost a century of photography, you

tographic illustrations. And even earlier on, when people

have a different sort of hybrid practice when someone like

were trying to understand the properties of light itself,

Karl Blossfeldt makes very precise images of a different sort.

photography became central to the study of spectronomy.

You could easily say that he was archiving plant types, and

Scientists mailed daguerreotypes of a light spectrum to one

collecting data and information. How do you see Blossfeldt,

another, from the United States to England, to share infor-

as a scientist or artist? Or are those categories not even valid?

mation and discuss the qualities of light.

MARVIN: Blossfeldt falls in the long tradition of people who

STEVE: It’s interesting that the art world embraces the

makes a certain kind of image, and lots of them, to catalogue

Bechers. When I first saw the Becher photographs, I

something. The ability to create photographic atlases and

couldn’t see them in a fine art context. When I look at the

archives, to capture multiple and idiosyncratic examples of

Becher’s work, I feel like I’m looking at an archive because

certain kinds of things, was part of what attracted the sci-

of the clinical way that the work is presented. One way

ences to photography. Instead of having to rely upon artists

work differentiates itself from the experience of looking at

and illustrators as the interpreters of the natural world for

images in an atlas or archive is when the work is presented

scientists, photography made inquiry, documentation and

and encountered as gelatin silver prints. When I’m looking

sharing of data less subjective pursuits and activities. In

at the work I have to put it into the context of conceptual

the late 19th century, explorers and archeologists published

art. And that the experience of looking at the work is the

sets and collections of images documenting the places and

experience of understanding an archive rather than nec-

native peoples they encountered. Civil War surgeons docu-

essarily the imagery itself. To me they were just as much

mented the medical procedures they performed.

architectural documenters as they are conceptual artists.

What’s interesting about Blossfeldt is that he was making

These guys are scientists as much as they are artists.

those plant pictures in the late 1920s, when photographs and science seemed to be working in tandem to shape the

MARVIN: Well, yes. In the sense that photography was re-

modern world. To study and capture something clearly, ef-

spected and valued because it didn’t necessarily interpret.

ficiently, and with precision, to archive and easily access

People often assume that what photography gives us is a

images became characteristics of the modern world. Art-

one-on-one imprint of the world. In the 19th century, it was

ists from the 1920s and 1930s, from Laszlo Moholy Nagy to

called ‘the pencil of nature,’ a way to imprint and index the

Berenice Abbott, were interested in the scientific gaze and

world in a manner that sidestepped subjectivity and would

the subjects and beauty of science. They understood that

be more accurate and useful for that accuracy. In the 1960s

images made in and of science opened a doorway; they

and 1970s when the Bechers started exhibiting their work,

not only documented phenomena and objects, but helped

it was a moment in the art and photography worlds when

shape a new visual language to engage with issues differ-

some people were turning away from more self-conscious

ent from what scientists might focus on in their work.

photographic narratives and artfulness and, once again, toward greater objectivity and clarity of vision. I think that

STEVE: In your project, you’ve been looking at the work

the conceptual nature of what they were doing not only

of Anna Atkins, for example, who was one of the first to

brought photography back into a more rigorous and sci-

use photography to document natural phenomena…

entific realm, but used it to step back and look at culture, industry, economics, politics, and power structures as well.

MARVIN: Atkins was a British botanist, and is thought

They honed a methodology that eschewed “creative” bells

to be the first woman to make a photograph. Starting in

and whistles. They made one picture after another that al-

the 1850s, she published handmade books of plant forms

lowed viewers to, in a sense, data mine the work.

illustrated with photographic images. STEVE: I heard a quote that said they don’t remember STEVE: Her photograms are massively different from

who pushed the button. Does science negate the notion

what Blossfeldt was doing.

of personality in imaging?

Clockwise from top left: Karl Blossfeldt. Allium ostrowskianum, Knoblauchpflanze, 1928. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; Anna Atkins, Dichsonia arborescens (Jamaica). 1850, Yale University Art Gallery, Gift of George Hopper Fitch, B.A. 1932.; Nicephore Niepce, View from the Window at Le Gras. 1826-7. Camera Obscura, Lithography.




MARVIN: Personality is something to keep at bay. I don’t

cesses and relationships often kept out of sight.

think scientists working with photographic imaging are

The images in Baltz’s series, “Sites of Technology”, adopt

thinking of the uniqueness or artfulness of what they’re do-

the supposed neutrality of science, the deadpan stance,

ing. They just need to get the job done. Scientists need im-

to question what’s going on. What’s wild is how some

ages to be as clear, readable, and free from that as possible.

of Baltz’s minimal images that have a colorful cheeriness that belies but can’t quite hint at the seriousness of what

STEVE: But In terms of what images look like and express,

lies beneath their eerie calm.

there’s been an undeniable and revolutionary change in photography triggered by digital photography and Pho-

STEVE: In the same sense, you have Baltz shooting a

toshop, which upended all ideas about accuracy and how

clean room that is some kind of science lab, then you

one can make or manipulate an image, that blows away

have Thomas Struth shooting another kind of science lab.

the notion of a dispassionate, mechanical eye.

Both artists looking at the laboratory. Yet, with the Baltz, I don’t get an emotional buzz until you tell me about all

MARVIN: Well, it has always been a fallacy to think that

the data underneath, its calculated chill. Whereas the

photography was, or ever really is, objective. At its best,

Struth does just the opposite. It’s vividly representing in

photography is only as objective as the current state of

the myth of Frankenstein, creating the new monster, and

photographic technology allows it to be.

tapping in a very different response.

You could, for example, see a lot but only certain things in a daguerreotype. You could see and learn something

MARVIN: This picture literally puts a face on research and

different from an x-ray. Photoshop does let people easily

what science is about. I’m fascinated by it because of the

manipulate the content of the image. But photography

way it speaks to issues like robotics and artificial intelli-

always lets you do that. Photography has never been

gence and hints at controversies about imaging’s central

absolutely accurate. Various types of films or sensors let

role in facial and object recognition, surveillance, artificial

you register certain parts of the light spectrum, but not

intelligence. The sciences promise a better world, but at

all of it. Photographic information is always malleable or

the same time deliver the tools to surveil and control the

bracketed by constraints in one sort or another. What’s

world. This is a theme we’re increasingly seeing in artists

interesting about digital imaging is how it forefronts this

work around science. And often, the work that questions

issue. Image captures are often just the first step in a pro-

sciences uses the evidential look of science, the artifacts of

cess of manipulation whose goal is to extract, recombine,

science, the methodology and visual language of science.

and alter input to heighten data. Images we see from the Hubble or Spitzer telescopes, for example, often combine

STEVE: So we have this incredible interest in science and

infrared, black and white, x-ray, and color images into a

its visual language from artists. Now that there is a vast

single one that is more readable than any of those indi-

and growing public interest in science, does that change

vidual images could be.

how scientists photograph?

STEVE: You showed me an image by Lewis Baltz that

MARVIN: Scientists use photography as a way to gather

reminds me a lot of how the Bechers looked at an image.

information, explore, and learn, but just as importantly

Personality seems to have been reduced as I’m viewing

photography is also used to promote science itself. As

this. Do you want to tell me something about how this

soon as photography was introduced, photographs were

image is made?

taken of the moon, the stars, animals, and objects, but also of scientists themselves, of their laboratories, and the

MARVIN: Baltz was well known by the mid-1970s for

product of their work. Scientists were always aware of im-

photographs that seemed topographic and dispassion-

aging as an interface between the sciences and the public.

ate: highly detailed and seemingly neutral images of

By the mid-to late 19th century, for example, science pho-

landscapes, industrial parks and the blank facades of

tography was being prominently featured at world’s fairs

buildings built or under construction. In the late 1980s

and popular expositions. Scientists began to reach out to

and early 1990s, Baltz’s attention turned to technology,

the public, crowdsourcing images in areas like meteorol-

and he started working on commissioned projects that

ogy, saying “Hey, we’re trying to understand lightning.

gave him access to corporate and governmental labora-

So, amateur photographers, send us your snapshots of ex-

tories, clean rooms, computers banks and artificial intel-

treme weather so we can use that information.” Scientific

ligence research sites. He made images in color instead

images have long been used in advertising to endorse and

of black and white, and as Thomas Struth and Trevor

suggest the efficacy of products. One example is a stylish

Paglen would do years later, made photographs of pro-

Kent cigarette ad from the late 1960s that presents a scien-

Previous spread: Louis Daguerre, Boulevard du Temple. 1839. Daguerreotype. Paris. Opposite: Thomas Struth. Simulator Head, JPL, Pasadena 2013. Lithograph of four stones. 89,0 x 69,0 cm.


Clockwise from top left: OSIRIS wide-angle camera image taken on 13 January 2016, when the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft was 86.7 km from Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. The scale is 8.49 m/pixel. Courtesy: European Space Agency; Nigella Damascena Spinnenkopf, Karl Blossfeldt ca. 1932. Metropolitan Museum of Art, Warner Communications Inc. Purchase Fund, 1978; William Henry Fox Talbot, A Scene in a Library (plate VIII) from The Pencil of Nature, 1844–1846, salt print from paper negative, Yale University Art Gallery, Gift of George Hopper Fitch, B.A. 1932.


Clockwise from top left: John Edward Mayall, Daguerre. 1860. Woodburytype. Yale University Art Gallery.; Bernd and Hilla Becher, Cooling Towers. 1967-84.; Bernice Abbot. A wave pattern with glass plate, 1958-61.


tist as a cultural figure of authority, suggesting that scien-

undeniable nature and scope of the problem. Think about

tists smoke Kents, because of their “micronite” filters, for

how prenatal images, like the ones I mentioned, are pro-

a good reason and you should too.

vocatively used in pro-life rallies around the country today.

STEVE: Science is also catching up to the modern era in

STEVE: But that’s an image being shanghaied by a politi-

that it increasingly uses photography to shrewdly pro-

cal group to make a point. Is science actively using im-

mote itself. Recently, we’ve been presented with spec-

ages to make changes?

tacular images like the recent close-ups of Pluto and the European Space Agency’s Rosetta Spacecraft’s dramatic

MARVIN: NASA is a clear example of that, as it has to

images that track a comet hurtling through the sky.

raise the funding to support Mars shots and satellites speeding to the far edges of the universe. The New Hori-

MARVIN: Historically, various areas of science have

zons project recently flooded the media with spectacular

used photography to do that. I’m thinking about the

photos of Pluto, taken from 7000 miles away, by a satellite

1950s, when people were trying to promote the efficacy

that was, by the time the pictures made it to Earth, already

and marketing of the Salk vaccine. Newspapers widely

45 million miles away from Pluto. Through these images,

reproduced pictures of grade school kids with sleeves

the public shares in that sense of awe, enthusiasm, and

rolled up and smiles on their faces, lined up to get their

the consequentiality and wonders where will we go after

inoculations. Starting in the 1920s, the organization Sci-

we can’t be here? It was just reported that applications for

ence Service, a news agency like the Associated Press,

openings as astronauts are way up and, to a large extent,

was providing images and news stories to the media to

attributable to NASA images on social media.

attract public attention on the sciences. Science Service images are going to be included in a number of “SEEING

STEVE: My favorite image of the group you brought here

SCIENCE’s” components.

today that I can’t resist, and want to point out is Jerry

I spend a fair amount of time on Instagram, where I’ve

Lewis as The Nutty Professor.

followed Scott Kelly, who was on the International Space Station and posting pictures every day. I look at the pic-

MARVIN: As one component of the “SEEING SCIENCE”

tures CERN puts up with frequency. Woods Hole Insti-

project, I’ll be curating a tabloid called ‘The Scientist’ that

tute has oceanographers post pictures as they work. And

charts the ways scientists have, since photography’s in-

Figure 1 on Instagram is a guessing game that features

troduction, been represented. It will go from early, staid

photos from medical procedures.

headshots of scientists, to images where scientists are

If scientists once primarily made images for each other,

represented as wackjobs.

today images are specifically made to reach out to the

I’ve got to say that working on this project and looking

public, industry, policy makers, and the government. The

at so many photographs of and from the sciences, have

introduction of x-rays, for example, caused a sensation in

messed with my head to a certain extent. The more pictures

the 19th century and ever since then the public has been

made by and for the sciences that I look at, the more and

hooked. Look at people’s current interest in and the popu-

the bigger existential and philosophical issues they seem to

larization of sonograms and think back to when Life mag-

raise. It is one thing, I’m sure, to be making and using these

azine’s 1965 publication of Lennart Nilsson’s photographs

pictures in one’s work and as data, to prove something

of an unborn fetus, which caused a sensation. Think of the

right or wrong, useful or useless. But images grounded in

first satellite image of a hurricane in 1961, and how we

the sciences have lives beyond the sciences, because they

look at and relish pictures of storms and hurricanes today.

make visible what wasn’t visible before. They make you think about your life, your world, the universe in ways

STEVE: In regards to your project, you’ve said that scien-

you couldn’t have imagined. Now, with so many micro

tific photographs have become an active agent of scientific,

and macro level images in my head, I’ve got a better sense

political, and cultural change. What do you mean by that?

of where the stereotype of scientists as distracted people arises from. Scientists regularly see, visualize, and spatial-

MARVIN: I think that because so many of the ways we

ize things in ways that are impressive and mindboggling.

engage with the world is mediated by images – images change the way we perceive and behave in the world. On

STEVE: So artists don’t have the corner on the market of

the subject of climate change, it wasn’t until we reached a

eccentric, weird, crazy, visionaries?

tipping point, having seen so many images of glacial melt and the dying off of species, that people have sensed the

MARVIN: Maybe they never have.

Clockwise from top right: Kent advertisement, Thinks for Himself, P. Lorillard, 1969 / Courtesy of Stanford School of Medicine.; Photoshop, Macintosh II 1987 / Courtesy of Computer History Museum.; Jerry Lewis plays a hapless academic who invents a potion that temporarily transforms him into a dashing crooner and man about town in “The Nutty Professor” (1963), directed by Mr. Lewis.CreditParamount Pictures/Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Inc.; Charles Darwin, An expression of disgust, The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, 1872 London: John Murray. First edition / Courtesy of Wellcome LibraryFollowing spread: THOMAS BALTZ, Element #24 from 89/91 Sites of Technology (Portfolio) 53. 232





Melissa Gaudet, Satellite Eyes, 2015.







Peggy Ahwesh, Still from Recovery Drift, 2015, HD single-channel video, 2 minutes. Courtesy of the artist and Microscope Gallery







Peggy Ahwesh, Still from Recovery Drift, 2015, HD single-channel video, 2 minutes. Courtesy of the artist and Microscope Gallery







Peggy Ahwesh, Still from Recovery Drift, 2015, HD single-channel video, 2 minutes. Courtesy of the artist and Microscope Gallery


E A D W E A R D M U Y B R I D G E s tud i es i n mo ti o n

b y Me l i ssa Ma ehra

It’s 1872. The trending debate among horse-racing en-

Muybridge immersed himself in the studies of photogra-

thusiasts: Is there a moment in a horse’s trot where all

phy and printing techniques.

four hooves are off the ground? #DoHorsesFly? Famed

En vogue at the time was Frederick Scott Archer’s wet-

artist renderings reigned in on the dispute for centuries,

plate collodion process; a novel and inexpensive devel-

sketches and oils rallying a firm, albeit mixed consensus

oping technique in which negative images were rapidly

on the matter. There are depictions of one hoof on the

reproduced onto glass. The innovation required a por-

ground at all times, or all lean legs splayed in an out-

table dark room, but within fifteen minutes—viola, one

wards extension from the torso to their farthest breadth—

had prints! They were stunning images, reproduced on

yes, in gravity-defying flight.

albumen paper, which drew one’s attention to striking

As rumors are remembered, Leland Stanford, former

tonal qualities and the finest of micro-details.

California governor and estate owner of what was hailed

During his time of physical recovery and novice cre-

by some as the “horse-training mecca,” had a $25,000 wa-

ative exploration, Muybridge was greatly influenced

ger against a rival on the side of flying horses, dubbed

by British celebrity portraitist, Julia Margaret Cameron.

at the time as “unsupported transit.” Stanford commis-

He fine-tuned his execution of Frederick Scott Archer’s

sioned Eadweard Muybridge, an immigrant publishing

processing technique, and even patented inventions for a

agent turned astute technical photographer, to help settle

high-speed electrical shutter that could be used with up

the bet. The commission—a mélange of science, art and

to twenty-four cameras.

pop-controversy—would serve as a catalyzing event to

Confident in his skillset, Muybridge resumed life in San

Muybridge’s legacy in stop-motion photography and his

Francisco. His career embarked on pop-culture’s favored

role as the father of cinematography.

format of stereographs, selling works at galleries and on San

Muybridge was born April 9, 1830 in Surrey England to

Francisco’s Montgomery Street. Soon thereafter, with his

John and Susan Muggeridge, a family of grain and coal

portable dark room in tow, he refocused attentions towards

merchants. Post several permutations of his namesake,

architectural and landscape photography. He garnered

in search of remaining authentic to his English heritage,

much fame for his impressive prints of the Yosemite Valley

he settled upon Muybridge. By the age of twenty, he set

in 1967, all signed under the pseudonym Helios. These im-

out to New York as a bookseller for the London Printing

ages were captured using heavy-view cameras and stacks

and Publishing Company and even ventured west to live

of glass plate negatives. Additionally, he worked for the

in San Francisco during the height of the Gold Rush. In

U.S. government surveying the newly acquired Alaskan

1860, while en route back to his native England, Muy-

territory and its existing inhabitants—from the Tlingit Na-

bridge was involved in a tragic accident in which he was

tive Americans to Russian settlers. In 1871, Muybridge was

thrown from a moving stagecoach and sustained major

hired by the Lighthouse Board to photographically cata-

head trauma. The incident physically impacted his sense

logue lighthouses lining the West Coast. From 1870-1872,

of smell and taste, as well as greatly impaired his deci-

Muybridge began experiments with time-lapse photogra-

sion-making skills, causing erratic behavior and friction

phy, recording the construction and advancement of the

amongst those closest to him. By 1861, recouped enough

building of the San Francisco Mint Building.

to continue travels, he returned to England. He resumed

In 1872, Stanford brought the established and esteemed

treatment under the care of Sir William Gull; and, upon

Muybridge on board to settle his ongoing wager regarding

the encouragement of Gull and friend Arthur Brown,

“unsupported transit.” Muybridge embraced the project

Eadweard Muybridge. Top: Man ascending stairs. 1884-85.; bottom: Child getting up on chair, plate 475, 1887.



Eadweard Muybridge. Two men in pelvis clothes fencing, Animal Locomotion, Plate 350, 1887.


with the meticulous precision of scientific inquiry. Building

Muybridge had a copyright controversy and a falling out

on rudimentary exercises in time-lapse, Muybridge prelimi-

with Stanford and author Dr. J. B. D. Stillman over imag-

narily proved Stanford and his camp correct with a singular

es used for research and published in the book The Horse

negative of the race-horse Occident, with its hooves gath-

In Motion. Nonetheless, he significantly expanded on his

ered beneath the center of its torso, airborne while running.

studies in animal locomotion with the generous sponsor-

Muybridge refined his technique in motion studies by

ship of the University of Pennsylvania. While at U-Penn,

1978. Coordinating twelve cameras along Stanford’s

Muybridge had full-access to stocks of cameras, an out-

estate racetrack, he attached wires to each of the glass-

door studio, human subjects, as well as animals from the

plate cameras. A clockwork device triggered the shutter

Philadelphia Zoo. During this time, from 1883-1886, he

of each individual camera as a horse ran through the

documented a prolific 100,000 images of motion surveys.

elaborate setup. On June 5 of the same year, Sallie Gardner

Additionally, he built off of his earlier patent regarding

at A Gallop (also known as The Horse In Motion) served

high-speed electrical shutters, inventing a camera with a

as empirical evidence in favor of the unsupported tran-

faster shutter to assist him in reducing motion blur.

sit theory. The silhouetted stills were printed on a disc

Muybridge’s system was intricate, consisting of multiple

that could be viewed in animation with his invention,

strategically-placed cameras, each called to task to capture a

the zoopraxiscope. The zoopraxiscope—the “Adam” of

separate image, documenting the sequence of rudimentary

movie projectors, predating even Edison’s kinetoscope—

actions from animals—a bird in flight, an elephant’s prom-

allowed for an animated projection of still images, creat-

enade—or complex feats of athleticism from humans—a

ing the illusion of motion as glass discs rapidly rotated.

wrestling match between two near-nude men, or the grace-


ful movements of a woman dancing—and finally projected

Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893, he un-

in animated splendor with his zoopraxiscope. His aesthetic,

veiled the Science of Animal Locomotion. This exhibit el-

whether the subject be man or beast, was to capture the nu-

evated his invention of the zoopraxiscope to a zoopraxo-

ances of action against a gridded background. In the end,

graphical hall in which the public roamed through with

the prints come across as if they were an homage to science

moving images projected on the walls alongside them.

itself: dissections of everyday observances, frozen so each

On May 8, 1904 Muybridge died of prostate cancer at a

moment could be looked on and appreciated in isolation—

cousin’s home in Kingston upon the Thames—the name

precision trumping beauty. The human eye can only per-

on his tombstone misspelled as Eadweard Maybridge. Al-

ceive but so much, however, Muybridge’s camera caught

beit a man of eccentricities, Muybridge’s mark spanned

the infinitesimal inbetweens of every gesture, of every ac-

far beyond the realms of photography and cinema, con-

tion, letting movement run its full circuit.

tributing even to contemporary understandings of bio-

By 1887, Muybridge published a compendium of 20,000

mechanics and serving as a valuable point of reference

images taken from 781 glass plates titled Animal Loco-

across disciplines. From harnessing the scientific method

motion: An Electrophotographic Investigation of Connective

and applying the precision and flare of experimentation

Phases of Animal Movements. Having reestablished his

to his world of photography, Muybridge proved to us

credibility, he lectured globally. During a speech at the

that pictures can move and horses can fly.

Eadweard Muybridge. Nude Woman Kicking a Hat, Animal Locomotion, 1887.



Eadweard Muybridge. The Galloping Horse Portfolio, 1887.



ADAM BROOMBERG was born in 1970 in Johan-

in Florence, Italy, working as a technical director

nesburg, South Africa. OLIVER CHANARIN in 1971

of production for Art/Tapes/22, one of the first

in London. The pair has an accomplished list of solo

video art studios in Europe. Throughout his career,

exhibitions including Shanghai Biennale (2014), Mu-

Viola has immersed himself in various cultures,

seum of Modern Art, New York (2014), and the Tate

religions, and philosophies: traveling to the Solo-

Britain (2014). Two of their most notable pieces are the

mon Islands, Java, Bali, and Japan he studied and

Holy Bible and War Primer 2. The first won the ICP In-

documented traditional performing arts, and to the

finity Award (2014) and the second won the Deutsche

Sahara desert, Tunisia to study mirages. The fol-

Börse Photography Prize (2013). They founded their

lowing year he studied Zen Buddhism with Master

own publishing company called Chopped Liver Press

Daien Tanaka in Japan, and in 1981 emigrated back

which releases limited edition books and posters; the

to Long Beach, California, commencing artworks

latter being unique, signed copies. Printed matter is a

based on medical imaging technologies of the hu-

pervasive element within the work of this artist-team.

man body at a local hospital, animal consciousness at the San Diego Zoo, and fire walking rituals

ADAM FUSS was born in London in 1961 and moved

among the Hindu communities in Fiji. In 1987, he

to New York in 1982, where he now lives and works.

traveled throughout the American Southwest pho-

After the success of his first solo exhibition in 1985,

tographing Native American rock-art sites, and re-

Fuss’s work has received critical acclaim from around

cording nocturnal desert landscapes. More recent-

the world. His work often highlights the themes of

ly, at the end of 2005, Viola and his family traveled

life, death, and the supernatural. The 2010 series

to Dharamsala, India to record a prayer blessing

called Home and the World consists of gelatin silver

with the Dalai Lama. In 2014, twenty works were

print photograms and large-scale daguerreotypes.

shown at the Grand Palais, Paris, in his largest sur-

The works within the series record groupings of live

vey exhibition to date, and a few months later, part

snakes on stained mattresses and a close up of a vagi-

one of the St. Paul’s commission was installed in

na. He has displayed his work extensively throughout

the London cathedral, “Martyrs (Earth, Air, Fire,

his career, and has done numerous solo shows, as well

Water).” Viola has received numerous awards for

as collaborations with other artists in group shows.

his achievements, including the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, XXI Catalonia International

BILL VIOLA has played an important role in es-

Prize, and the Praemium Imperiale from the Japan

tablishing video as an essential form of modern

Art Association.

art, augmenting its range in terms of technology, content, and historical reach. Bill Viola received

Photographer and inventor EADWEARD MUY-

his BFA in Experimental Studios from Syracuse

BRIDGE was born in the United Kingdom in 1830.

University in 1973. Throughout the 90s, Viola lived

He immigrated to the United States at age 20, where



he became well-regarded for his natural images

LYNN HERSHMAN LEESON was born in Cleveland,

of the Yosemite Valley and Alaska. The subjects of

Ohio, where her father had moved from Montreal.

Muybridge’s work changed dramatically after meet-

She received a Bachelor’s degree in Education, Mu-

ing former California governor Leland Stanford.

seum Administration and Fine Arts from Case West-

Stanford sought out Muybridge to help him prove

ern Reserve University in Cleveland in 1963 and a

his theory that all four of a horse’s hooves leave the

Master of Fine Arts from San Francisco State Univer-

ground mid-gallop. Stanford then took thousands of

sity in 1972. Over the course of the last thirty years,

photographs of horses in motion. He began devel-

Hershman Leeson has been praised by critics around

oping more advanced methods of photographing

the world for her groundbreaking uses for technol-

animals and people in motion, and was consequently

ogy and for her work that drew attention to the top-

invited to further develop his research at the Univer-

ics that are essential to understanding our society. It

sity of Pennsylvania in 1883. His research culminated

wasn’t until the late 1970s that Hershman Leeson be-

into a projection method known as the Zoopraxis-

gan to work in the video medium, which she would

cope. Muybridge inspired the artists and inventors

then use to further her exploration of the themes of

of his time – including Thomas Edison – and his tech-

identity, surveillance, and technology. In 2004, she

nology continues to impact how we capture images

was named “the most influential woman working in

in motion today.

New Media.” Her work is featured in many public collections. Including, Museum of Modern Art, The

Artist and photographer FABIAN OEFNER was born

Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and The Na-

in Switzerland, where he resides to this day. He at-

tional Gallery of Canada.

tended the Basel University of Art, where he studied painting, photography, typography, and art history. He later received his Bachelor of Arts in Product De-

HOLLY SHAFTEL is the Editorial Assistant and Social Media Specialist at NASA’S Jet Propulsion Lab-

sign at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts.

oratory. LAURA TENENBAUM is a member of the

His Disintegrating series (2013) is comprised of im-

Earth Science Communications Team at NASA’s Jet

ages of revved-up cars that appear to be disassem-

Propulsion Laboratory. Both Shaftel and Tenenbaum

bled mid-explosion. Oefner’s Black Hole (2013) se-

are responsible for culling and creating content for

ries became the center of attention at the 2015 World

NASA’S Climate Change website. Additionally, Shaf-

Science Festival Gala, where people came to cel-

tel and Tenenbaum are both Webby Award winners

ebrate the 100th Anniversary of Einstein’s Theory of

for their work at NASA-JPL. KIMBERLY KOWAL AR-

Relativity. Oefner’s most recent piece, Field of Sound

CAND is the Visualization Lead for NASA’S Chandra

(2015), can be interpreted as an animated sculpture

X-ray Observatory based in Cambridge, Massachu-

using more than five thousand Plexiglas blades, il-

setts. She has won several awards as a producer and

luminated by the sound of a piano.

director with NASA and the Smithsonian.



MARVIN HEIFERMAN, an independent curator and

currently displaying a solo exhibition, “Everything and

writer, organizes projects about photography and visual

More” at The Whitney Museum of American Art in New

culture for institutions that include the Museum of Mod-

York. The ultimate goal of the film is to suck the audience

ern Art, Smithsonian Institution, International Center of

into the astronaut’s life, forcing them to feel everything

Photography, Whitney Museum of American Art, Carne-

the astronaut felt during his haunting experience. Some

gie Museum of Art, and the New Museum. Earlier in his

of her former exhibits are “Palisades” at the Serpentine

career, as a gallerist and artist representative, Heiferman

Sackler Gallery in London in 2015, “Interiors” at Castello

worked closely with many artists and photographers

di Rivoli in Turin in 2015, and an upcoming exhibition at

including: Robert Adams, Eve Arnold, Lewis Baltz, Nan

The Aspen Art Museum in 2016. Rose won the Illy Pres-

Goldin, Peter Hujar, and Richard Prince, among others.

ent Future Prize at Artissima in 2014, and in the spring

Heiferman has written for numerous museums, galleries,

of 2015, she accepted the Frieze Artist Award for site-

publications, catalogs, blogs, and magazines including

specific art work by rising artists.

The New York Times, Gagosian Gallery, CNN, Artforum, Design Observer, Aperture, Art in America, and BOMB.

ROBERT LONGO is known for his lifelike illustrations

Heiferman is the author, editor, and packager of over

that analyze the politics and plays of power in our so-

two dozen books on photography and visual culture,

ciety. Inspired by sculpture, his drawings look three di-

including Photography Changes Everything (Aperture,

mensional, as if they could leap off the page and assume

2012). He is a Visiting Scholar at the Center for Art, De-

physical form. Longo attended Buffalo State University,

sign & Visual Culture, University of Maryland, Baltimore

where he studied along with fellow-student Cindy Sher-

County; core faculty member in the ICP/Bard College

man. He graduated in 1975, and moved his residence

MFA Program in Advanced Photographic Studies; and

to New York City becoming a part of the downtown

on the faculty of the School of Visual Art’s MFA Program

music and art scene. He became famous for his Men in

in Photography, Video and Related Media. New entries

the Cities (1979) series, which is a portrayal of business

to Why We Look, Heiferman’s ongoing Twitter and Face-

men and women squirming in either pain or euphoria,

book based project, tracking breaking news stories about

silhouetted against a stark white background. The idea

imaging and visual culture, are posted daily.

for this work came from a still image in Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s film The American Soldier (1970). In 2000

RACHEL ROSE’S hypnotic videos deal with the theme

and 2003, Longo presented Monsters, Bernini-esque ren-

of mortality. They include settings ranging from zoos

derings of massive breaking waves, and The Sickness

and a robotics perception lab, to Philip Johnson’s Glass

of Reason, baroque renderings of atomic bomb blasts.

House, the American Revolutionary War and 19th cen-

Monsters was included in the 2004 Whitney Biennial.

tury park design. Her work anchors these sites in a range of perspectives on death, from human weaknesses to the

SHAMUS CLISSET was born in Huntington, NY in

devastation historical events have in our lifetime. She is

1976 and received his BFA in painting at the College of



Santa Fe. Clisset’s work pairs 3D modeling software

Director of the Synthetic Biological Systems Laboratory

with ray-tracing. By doing so, Clisset constructs land-

at Columbia University. His work explores biology and

scapes, creatures, and objects, creating an alternate re-

engineering, and intends to build a significant under-

ality for them to inhabit, including his alter ego, Fake

standing of gene circuits to design biological behaviors

Shamus. This world is magical, in both its appearance

that have technological applications. Outside of the

and when considering the tools that make its existence

laboratory, Danino is a TED Fellow, and continues to

possible. He currently lives and works in New York.

focus on the development of bio-art works.

Living and working between the Hamptons and New

VIK MUNIZ was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil in 1961, and

York since the 1970s, STEVE MILLER is best known for

splits his time between Brooklyn, New York and Rio de

his paintings, which combine aspects of art, science,

Janeiro, Brazil. His images range from photographs to

and technology. He was trained by silkscreen printers

installations, and he is most known for using a myriad

who worked with Andy Warhol, and is inspired by

of materials to create them, such as chocolate, toys, and

artists like Robert Rauschenberg who boldly mixed im-

garbage. Muniz’s artwork often draws inspiration from

agery in his work, Miller’s photographs and paintings

other artists, which he then replicates into new forms.

are uniquely wrought examinations of the systems that

He was featured in the Academy Award nominated

constitute our world. He was an early pioneer of the

documentary film Waste Land, which follows his work

Sci-Art movement and major projects include a multi-

over the course of two years in relation to garbage pick-

media computer installation, which analyzed financial

ers at a garbage dump near Rio de Janeiro. Muniz shot

commodity trading and the distribution of contempo-

exclusive new iPhone images with the Schneider Op-

rary art exhibited at White Columns Gallery in 1981.

tics iPro Lens for Musée’s ‘Breaking Tradition’ issue.

His most recent series, Health of the Planet (2009-14), is x-ray photographs of Amazonian flora and fauna, and

WIM DELVOYE grew up in Wervik, a small town in

was exhibited in 2013 at the Oi Futuro Ipanema in Bra-

West Flanders, Belgium. The mixed media artist is

zil. This series has also been shown in solo exhibitions

recognized for his provocative depiction of the hu-

in Rio de Janeiro at Galeria Tempo, in Switzerland at

man body, complex work method, and an artistry

Galeria Rigassi, in London at Gallery Maya, and in East

that blends humor with the eccentric. Delvoye has

Hampton, New York, at Harper’s Books.

put his work on display at multiple exhibitions, including Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow,

Hailing from Los Angeles, artist TAL DANINO received

Jing’An Sculpture Park, Shanghai, Centre Pompidou,

B.S. degrees in Physics, Math, and Chemistry from

Paris, Museum of Arts & Design, New York, Stedelijk

UCLA, and a Ph.D. in Bioengineering from UCSD. He

Museum, Amsterdam, Louvre Museum, Paris, Musee

carried out his postdoctoral research at the Koch Insti-

Rodin, Paris, Galerie Rudolfinum, Prague, and Peggy

tute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT and is the

Guggenheim Collection, Venice, among many others.



SUBMIT YOUR WORK TO MUSÉE NO. 15: PLACE 1. Submit high resolution images. 2. Please do not include watermarks. 3. Use ‘Issue No. 15’ as the email subject. 4. Include name, photo title and contact information that you would like to see published. 5. Deadline for submission is JUNE 1, 2016. 6. To submit, please visit or send your work to