Profile: Johanna Kieniewicz
Johanna Kieniewicz has a PhD in Earth and Planetary Science, a foundation degree in fine art, and spends a good deal more time in galleries and museums than is really healthy. She is passionate about art and science and relishes her job in science at one of the world's great cultural institutions, The British Library. Naturally, this blog represents only her views – and those of her contributors – and not those of her employer.
NoteStreams By Johanna Kieniewicz
Careful observation is critical to both science and art. This comes to the fore in a new exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery highlighting the art of Karl Blossfeldt (1865-1932). Blossfeldt was a self-taught photographer who photographed almost nothing but flowers, buds and seed capsules for 35 years. His keenly observed photographs from the seminal Urformen der Kunst (Art Forms in Nature) not only link Art Nouveau with Modernism, but also art with science.
The place where art meets the science of perception is a fertile one for collaborations between artists and scientists. And Light Show at the London Southbank Centre’s Hayward Gallery captures this in a brilliant exhibition that makes your eyes hurt and leaves the outside world looking ever-so-slightly dull.
Catalog image courtesy Flickr user Razi Marysol Machay. (CC BY-SA 2.0)
“Big enough to get lost on. Small enough to find myself. That’s how to use this island. I come here to place myself in the world. Iceland is a verb and its action is to center.”
American artist Roni Horn, who works extensively in Iceland, uses these words to describe the island and its influence in her art practice.
As a geologist, Iceland had been near the top of my places to visit for a very long time. And as someone with artistic inclinations drawn to the stark and dramatic places of the world, Horn’s words echoed in my mind as I stood atop Eyjafjallajökull (still warm enough to melt the chocolate in my pack), trekked across glaciers, and explored the remotest parts of the island this summer.
The moon is a place both for science and the imagination. While the American moon landings of the 20th century were, arguably, feats primarily of science, technology and politics, they also required a good bit of imagination and were the manifestation of our collective fascination with that silvery orb. And even if, today, the moon seems to principally be the realm of scientists and of global power games, the first people there were undoubtedly artists, writers and dreamers. In a fascinating new exhibition curated by art/science provocateurs The Arts Catalyst, a group of artists declare a Republic of the Moon.
The ecological impacts of climate change are likely to be varied and widespread. In a recent study,
special attention has been given to understanding the vulnerability of particular species and functions within ecosystems.
But how exactly does one go about identifying which species are vulnerable to climate change, and how is that vulnerability defined? Sensitivity? Exposure? Adaptive capacity? And should we lose one of those vulnerable species, what is the effect on the rest of the ecosystem?
Can photography impact the way that we view our environment? Part art and part document, does this medium have the capacity to really change our minds? This question, which has a semi-permanent place in the back of my mind, rose to the surface most recently at Landmark: the Fields of Photography, an exhibition that brings together a diverse range of photographers to show the brazen, and sometimes beautiful, reality of our impact on the environment.