Voyage to the Virtual is an exhibition dedicated to digital, moving image and light-based Nordic art, opening at Scandinavia House: The Nordic Center in America, in New York City. Combining video, animation, light sculpture and interactive media, the exhibition takes the metaphor of “the voyage” as a starting point for an exploration into the ways contemporary artists are expanding on the human perceptual experience. The exhibition presents artworks by ten contemporary artists from the Nordic region: Katja Aglert, Elina Brotherus, A K Dolven, Olafur Eliasson, Jette Gejl Kristensen and Peter Møller-Nielsen, Petra Lindholm, Ann Lislegaard, Per Platou, Jacob Tækker, and Anders Weberg.
The voyage evokes ancient journeys into foreign territories, arctic sea travels, expeditions across icecaps and to the far north, journeys into Nordic myth and worlds beyond our own. It encapsulates our curiosity about the unknown. In a contemporary context, the voyage is also a concept of mediation: between ordinary and uncanny, natural and artificial, rural and urban, real and virtual. The exhibition is curated by Tanya Toft and organized by The American-Scandinavian Foundation (ASF).
In the curatorial essay, Tanya Toft explains: “The ‘voyage’ is a concept deeply anchored in Nordic identity. The word evokes ancient journeys into foreign territories, arctic sea travels, explorations across icecaps, expeditions to the far North, and odysseys into Nordic myth and worlds beyond our own. Historically, the voyage has captured our curiosity of the unknown, places where we might discover new phenomena or extend our knowledge of the world. Today, the journeys we embark on are as much virtual as physical, and the voyage has come to also encapsulate our perceptual journeys—from the space of memory to the space of the digital realm. The boundaries of our perceptual experience have expanded in our contemporary world. Perception in a digital age is a changing condition, affected by reflective surfaces, extended imagination, and fluidity of consciousness. We are constantly re-constituting ways of observing the world. In a contemporary context, the new “lenses” provided by digital technologies—from screens to optical devices and mediating surfaces—enable us to undertake perceptual journeys on which we explore spaces beyond our imagination, travel through time, experience time conjunction, and mediated representations of place. Our experience of the self in this digital-technological age is about trying to understand our perceptual relationships to our surrounding environment and its architecture. […] The title of the exhibition, Voyage to the Virtual, suggests a journey to somewhere beyond our physical location. Often when we refer to “the virtual” we mean something simulated, or artificial—something computer generated. In our familiar notion of “virtual reality,” the virtual might be understood as an idea of representation, in which the screen’s frame is considered to separate two spaces of different scale: the physical and the virtual—in the notion of hyperspace. The viewer exists in both these spaces simultaneously, but in separate dimensions. The virtual might also be understood as an idea of simulation in which the scales of the physical and the virtual are the same and continuous, where the ‘spectator’ is free to move around. […] Today, the voyage is also a concept of mediation, between ordinary and uncanny, rural and urban, natural and artificial, and real and virtual. Much like the way imagination, fiction, and memory have always taken us on journeys to elsewhere while we remain physically located in one space, today we are “brought there” visually through the screen. The screen implies a certain tension between the material reality of built space and the conceptual reality of imaginary space, and it has become a familiar surface and metaphor through which we enter the virtual world. New lenses of mediated screens and surfaces have challenged our perceptual experience in contemporary society, as we must constantly navigate between real and virtual dimensions, or accept that these are increasingly one and the same.”
32013 Years of Aurora Evolution simulates the “light materiality” of the northern lights, the phenomenon that occurs when charged particles collide with the Earth’s atmosphere at high latitudes. In the title of the work, “32013” refers to the year 30,000B.C., the year the Cro Magnon people purportedly made the first attempts to depict the northern lights. The work is created by transforming scientific audio recordings of sun storms into a set of light levels, which, when projected within the wooden and acrylic structure, suggest an active aurora borealis on display.
(b. 1970. Lives and works in Stockholm, Sweden.)
Katja Aglert’s practice is interdisciplinary in nature and includes both individual and collaborative projects. She has exhibited in Sweden and internationally, including solo exhibitions at Marabouparken, Stockholm, Sweden (2014); WELD, Stockholm, Sweden (2012); and Overgaden – Institute for Contemporary Art, Copenhagen, Denmark (2006). Recent group exhibitions include Uppehåll!, Marabouparken, Sweden (2014); Visions of the Now—Stockholm Festival for Art and Technology, Fylkingen, Stockholm, Sweden (2013); Shaped by Time, Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen, Denmark (2012); Polar Positions, Sámi Center for Contemporary Art, Norway (2012); 58th International Short Film Festival Oberhausen, Germany (2012); and Agency of Unrealized Projects, DAAD, Berlin, Germany (2012). Recent books featuring Aglert’s work include Katja Aglert: Winter Event- antifreeze (2014; edited by Aglert and Stefanie Hessler), andYou Say Light, I Think Shadow (2015; edited by Sandra Praun and Aleksandra Stratimirovic), both published by Art and Theory Publishing.
Based on a dodecahedron wrapped in five divergent lines, the artwork is part of Olafur Eliasson’s ongoing investigation into fivefold symmetry (commonly seen in flowers, fruit, and molecules). A tetrahedron made of high-reflectivity glass sits within the dodecahedron. These two Platonic solids connect at the four corners of the tetrahedron. The sculpture has a fixed halogen bulb at its center. The glass reflects the fivefold pattern, and, when the bulb is on, the dodecahedron’s pattern is projected onto the walls of the surrounding space.
(b. 1967. Lives and works in Copenhagen, Denmark and Berlin, Germany.)
Throughout the past two decades, Olafur Eliasson’s installations, paintings, photography, films, and public projects have served as tools for exploring the cognitive and cultural conditions that inform our perception. Ranging from immersive environments of color, light, and movement to installations that recontextualize natural phenomena, his work defies the notion of art as an autonomous object and instead positions itself as part of an exchange with the actively engaged visitor and her individualized experience. Described by the artist as “devices for the experience of reality,” his works and projects prompt a greater sense of awareness about the way we engage with and interpret the world.
Born in Copenhagen in 1967, Eliasson grew up in both Iceland and Denmark, where he studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Art (1989–1995). Upon graduating, he relocated to Berlin, where he established his studio in 1995. Today it numbers about seventy craftsmen, architects, geometers, and art historians. From 2009 to 2014, as a professor at the Berlin University of the Arts, Eliasson led the Institut für Raumexperimente (Institute for Spatial Experiments), a five-year experimental program in arts education located in the same building as his studio. Eliasson currently lives and works in Copenhagen and Berlin.
Since the mid-1990s, the artist’s work has been at the center of numerous exhibitions and projects around the world. In 2003, Eliasson represented Denmark at the 50th Venice Biennale with The blind pavilion and, later that year, he opened the celebrated work The weather project at Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall. The artist’s first retrospective, Take your time: Olafur Eliasson, opened at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 2007 before traveling to the Museum of Modern Art and PS1 in New York; The Dallas Museum of Art; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; and The Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, through 2010. Other significant solo exhibitions include Innen Stadt Außen at the Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin (2010); Your chance encounter at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa, Japan (2009–2010); The New York City Waterfalls, a major public art project for the city of New York (2008); Notion motion at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam (2005); Colour memory and other informal shadows at Astrup Fearnley Museet for Moderne Kunst in Oslo (2004); Chaque matin je me sens différent, chaque soir je me sens le même at Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris in France (2002); Your only real thing is time, at The Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston (2001); and The curious garden at Kunsthalle Basel (1997), among many others.
The artist has also produced a number of permanent installations and site-specific works, including Your rainbow panorama at ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum in Denmark (2011); the façades for Harpa Reykjavik Concert Hall and Conference Centre in Iceland (2011; in collaboration with Henning Larsen Architects); Whenever the rainbow appears at The Israel Museum in Jerusalem (2010); Sunspace for Shibukawa (2009) at the Hara Museum ARC in Shibukawa, Japan; and The parliament of reality, a permanent outdoor installation at Bard College, New York (2009).
In 2012, Eliasson launched his Little Sun project at Tate Modern as part of the London 2012 Festival. Developed by the artist in cooperation with engineer Frederik Ottesen, Little Sun refers to both a small, solar-powered LED lamp and a global project to provide clean, affordable light to communities without access to electricity.
Eliasson’s work is represented in many prestigious collections worldwide, including those of the Museum of Modern Art in New York; Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh; The Art Institute of Chicago; Guggenheim Museum in New York; Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art in Oslo; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington D.C.; Leeum Samsung Museum of Art in Seoul, South Korea; Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk, Denmark; MIT List Visual Arts Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.
The artist has been granted numerous awards over the years, including the Eugene McDermott Award in the Arts at MIT (2014), the Wolf Prize in Painting and Sculpture (2014), the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture – Mies van der Rohe Award 2013 (with Henning Larsen Architects and Batterid), the Joan Miró Prize (2007), and the 3rd Benesse Prize (1999).
change my way of seeing I documents a three-minute performance wherein the artist holds a Super 8 camera’s lens to her eye, and turns the viewfinder to the sun. In doing so, the artist shifts the viewpoint of the work: The sun is now the dominant eye, and the eye the observed phenomenon/object. The video captures the uncomfortable blinking of the artist’s dazzled eye as the sun’s rays find their way through the camera’s optics and into her pupil. The piece is accompanied by ambient city sounds.
(b. 1953. Lives and works in London, England and Lofoten, Norway.)
A K Dolven studied art in Paris and Oslo, before moving to Berlin in 1987 after receiving a DAAD residency. Since 1997 she has been living and working in London, while often returning to her home in Lofoten. Lofoten, a UNESCO protected location above the arctic, continues to be a central motif in many of her works. Dolven’s practise spans a variety of artistic disciplines, from audio and video-installation, to photography and painting. She has been awarded several public commissions internationally, and is also well known for her large-scale site-specific works and public sculpture projects.
Dolven’w work has been widely exhibited internationally. Recent presentations include exhibitions at IKON Gallery, UK; Wilkinson Gallery, UK; Kunsthalle Nurnberg, Germany; Kunsthalle Bern, Switzerland; Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Oslo, Norway; Platform China, Beijing; CCC Tours, France; Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin, Germany; Tate Liverpool, UK; and the Istanbul Biennale, Turkey. Her work is included in more than 30 international collections, including The Art Institute of Chicago, U.S.; Berlinische Galerie, Germany; Goetz Collection, München, Germany; Hoffmann Collection, Berlin, Germany; HM The Queens Collection, Norway; KIASMA, Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki, Finland; Kunsthalle Bern, Switzerland; The National Museum, Oslo, Norway; and Philadelphia Museum of Art, US. Dolven was awarded the German Fred-Thieler Prize in 2000 and the Swedish Prince Eugen Medal in 2005.
Hyperkinetic Kayak comprises a kayak, 3D glasses, and a virtual 3D landscape. The landscape, which simulates an icy sea, is generated by a daily data feed of air temperatures in Qaanaaq, Greenland. Viewers are invited to participate in the work, and may sit in the kayak and navigate a constantly changing universe of icebergs, sea, and sky. The virtual landscape responds to real-world phenomena, changing as the rower paddles, creating a real-time interaction between the analogue sensation of kayaking and the simulated environment. The work is complemented by a soundscape of melting ice, recorded in Greenland.
(b. 1963. Lives and works in Aarhus, Denmark.)
Jette Gejl Kristensen has worked with 3D technology since 2001 when, in collaboration with computer scientist Peter Møller-Nielsen, she produced the film trilogy Stone, Grass, and Fabric, in which she experimented with the capability of virtual forms to move and physically impact the body of the viewer. She has since participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions, including Queens Canyon, The Artist Society Jutland, Arthall Aarhus, Denmark (2014); 15 m3, Den Frie, Denmark (2013), and The Garden of Natural Delights (after Bosch 1490), SxS, Aarhus, Denmark (2013). Kristensen is an assistant professor at Aarhus University in the Department of Aesthetics and Communication and the producer of REARCHIVING THE NORDIC, an artist-driven project reexamining archived cultural data.
Bellona is the fictional city of Samuel R. Delany’s 1974 science fiction cult classic Dhalgren. It is a place beyond reason, where time and space are out of joint and the physical world appears to be in constant flux. In Ann Lislegaard’s 3D animation,Bellona is a psychological space in which norms and standards seem to dissolve into a chaos of antihierarchical conditions: a shifting labyrinth where lights switch on and off and doors and windows open and shut inexplicably. Bellona is an unsettling place—a science fiction terrain of pivoting walls and strange infernos.
(b. 1962. Lives and works in Copenhagen, Denmark and New York, New York.)
Ann Lislegaard examines phenomena related to time and space. Her work often takes the form of spatial constructions and she frequently deploys subtle devices such as sound and light in order to illustrate how we orient ourselves in our physical and psychological environment. In recent digital animations inspired by the works of science-fiction writers such as Samuel R. Delany, J.G.Ballard, Ursula K. Le Guin, H.G. Wells, and Philip K. Dick, owls and fox-like creatures talk, buildings splinter into a confusion of displaced and multiple planes, shapes mutate and duplicate, time dissolves, and rooms transform into labyrinthine spaces.
Lislegaard has had solo exhibitions at the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, Oslo, Norway; the Statens Museum For Kunst, Copenhagen, Denmark (2007); the Nationale Fotomuseum, Diamanten, Copenhagen, Denmark (2002); Dundee Contemporary Arts, Dundee, U.K. (2002); the Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo, Norway (2001); and Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden (1999). She represented Denmark in the 51st Venice Biennale in 2005 and has participated in the 27th Bienal de Sao Paulo, 2006, the 12th Bienniale de Lyon, 2013, the 19th Biennale of Sydney, 2014, and La Biennale de Montreal, 2014. In 2009 she had a solo exhibition presenting the trilogy Bellona (after Samuel R Delany), Crystal World (after J.G.Ballard), and The Left Hand of Darkness (after Ursula Le Guin) at the Henry Art Gallery, Seattle, which travelled to the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit.
The mirror has been a reoccurring element in Elina Brotherus’s work since the late 1990s. Wrong Face, filmed on 16-millimeter film in a loft on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, follows two “Alices” (one played by the artist) as they explore the loft, and discover and play with various mirrors. As the Alices hide, show, and swap their faces using the mirrors, the film explores the reciprocity of vision—between the film’s two protagonists, and between the film’s subjects and viewers.
(b. 1972. Lives and works in Helsinki, Finland and Paris, France.)
Elina Brotherus works in photography and video. Her early work dealt with personal yet universal experiences, the presence and absence of love. In her series The New Painting (2000-2005), Brotherus probed the relation of photography to art history and found inspiration in the iconography of classical painting. In Model Studies (2002-2008) and Artist and her model (2005-2011), she continued to explore the human figure within a landscape, and the gaze of an artist on his/her model. In her current work, Brotherus returns to the autobiographical approach, although more distanced than in her youth.
Brotherus holds an MA degree in Photography from the University of Art and Design Helsinki (2000) and an MSc in Chemistry from the University of Helsinki (1997). She has exhibited widely since 1997 in institutions like Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark ; Kunsthalle Fridericianum, Kassel; The National Art Center, Tokyo; ARTER, Istanbul; Bloomberg SPACE, Saatchi Gallery, and The Photographers’ Gallery, London; Casino Forum d’Art Contemporain, Luxembourg; Biennale of Sydney; and Istanbul Biennial, to name a few. Her work is to be found in numerous collections, including the Collection Lambert, Avignon; MAC/VAL, Vitry-sur-Seine; Fondation Kadist, Paris; Musée Nicéphore Niépce, Chalon-sur-Saône; CNAP, France; MAXXI Museo nazionale delle arti del XXI secolo, Rome; Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki; Hasselblad Center, Gothenburg; Moderna Museet, Stockholm. Brotherus has also published four monographs, including, most recently, 12 ans après (2015) and Artist and her model (2012).
Created during the artist’s stay in Kathmandu, Nepal, Empty Vessels is a continuation of Petra Lindholm’s interest in the symbol of the mountain. The video follows in the thoughts and footsteps of climbers as they ascend one of the highest mountains in the world. Images of distant mountain peaks suggest that the satisfaction of reaching the summit will be short-lived—that the climber’s desire for greater heights is unquenchable, much like contemporary society’s constant desire for new thrills.
(b. 1973. Lives and works in Ekenäs, Finland.)
Petra Lindholm is a visual artist working primarily with video, sound, and photography. Lindholm is particularly interested in describing memories and depicting the passage of time. Her work has been exhibited in numerous international solo and group exhibitions, including Galleria AMA, Helsinki, Finland (2014); Time Waits for Us, Galleri Magnus Karlsson, Stockholm, Sweden (2013); Nordic Cool 2013: New Nordic—Architecture and Identity, The Kennedy Center, Washington D.C. (2013); and New Nordic, Louisiana, Copenhagen, Denmark (2013). Lindholm studied at the Royal College of Art in Stockholm, Sweden.
The Works (Wash) is a sound piece recorded inside a car wash in Wendover, Utah, a desolate casino town on the northwestern border of Utah. Wendover is best known for having hosted the U.S. Air Force’s main airbase during World War II, and it was in Wendover that “Little Boy” and “Fat Man” were prepared for their horrific and spectacular missions to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The sound recording was made during preparations for the experimental performanceDesert Walker, a land art piece produced by the Oslo-based artist group Motherboard in 2008. Desert Walker, staged in the vast salt flats of the Great Salt Lake Desert, is documented in the accompanying video.
(b. 1964. Lives and works in Oslo, Norway.)
Per Platou is a Norwegian curator and sound-/video-based artist. He is the director of PNEK (Production Network for Electronic Art Norway), and runs The Norwegian Video Art Archive. Platou has exhibited and performed internationally in such projects as Desert Guitars, Thousand Points of Light, Joshua Tree, U.S. (2014); Platou’s Cave, Noplace, Oslo, Norway (2012); Nothing is Nothing, Kurant, Tromsø, Norway (2010); and Jonny Winklers Kanon, Obrestad Light House, Varhaug, Norway (2010).
In the animation Sea of Love, a number of shipwrecked sailors drift in orange rescue tubes in a rebellious sea. Upon closer inspection, it becomes clear that the sailors are all the same man—they are all Jacob Tækker. In the work, Tækker is captured in a state of loneliness that is both comic and tragic; the multiplication of his image obscures time and blurs the line between the work and reality, raising questions of existentialism in a digital reality.
(b. 1977. Lives and works in Copenhagen, Denmark.)
Jacob Tækker is a visual artist working with video, animation, and virtual performance. His solo exhibitions include Apophepa Cloud Travel Apparatus, Overgaden, Copenhagen, Denmark (2014); Towers, The Museum of Southern Jutland, Aabenraa, Denmark (2010); and Cave and Reality, Charlotte Fogh Contemporary, Aarhus, Denmark (2010). Tækker received an MFA from The Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Copenhagen in 2006.
Filmed on various mobile devices including the Nokia N8 and iPhone 4, the videos in Anders Weberg’s Impressions series are snapshot films—abstract investigations of place and atmosphere— created by the artist while visiting new cities. The installation juxtaposes Impressions videos from Swedish and international cities. The videos are accompanied by original soundscapes also created by the artist.
(b.1968. Lives and works in Kölleröd, Sweden.)
Anders Weberg is an artist working in video, sound, new media, and installation and he is primarily concerned with identity. The human body lies at the root of his projects, which formally and conceptually chart identity and its construction as a preamble to broaching matters of violence, gender, memory, loss, or ideology in which personal experiences co-exist with references to popular culture, the media, and consumerism. Specializing in digital technologies, Weberg mixes genres and forms of expression to explore the potential of audio visual media.
Weberg has exhibited at numerous art/film festivals, galleries, and museums internationally, including the Oscar Niemeyer Museum, Curitiba, Brazil (2012); Museum of Modern Art, Buenos Aires, Argentina (2011); and Beijing Contemporary Art Center, Beijing, China (2010). Weberg is the founder and curator of the Stian [con]temporary art gallery and AIVA International Video Art Festival (2011-2014). He is currently working on the longest film ever made, a 720-hour-long video entitled Ambiance scheduled to premiere in 2020.