Mapping Spaces book edited by Ulrike Gehring

Mapping Spaces

This large survey book builds on the ZKM Karlsruhe exhibition tracing the multifaceted relationship between art, science and technology in Dutch landscape art around 1650. Long before digital satellite imagery, Dutch artists used modern systems of remote sensing. Their art works provide valuable insights into past exchanges of knowledge that anticipate the techniques of mapping used today.

Includes A Planetary Order.

Hardcover: 500 pages
Publisher: Hirmer (1 Dec. 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-3777422305
Dimensions: 25.5 x 3.8 x 29.4 cm

Visualization in the Age of Computerization (Routledge Studies in Science, Technology and Society)

Objectivity and Representative Practices chapter
Dr Chiara Ambrosio, UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies

Screen Shot 2014-09-05 at 21.32.37

Digitalization and computerization are now pervasive in science. This has deep consequences for our understanding of scientific knowledge and of the scientific process, and challenges longstanding assumptions and traditional frameworks of thinking of scientific knowledge. Digital media and computational processes challenge our conception of the way in which perception and cognition work in science, of the objectivity of science, and the nature of scientific objects. They bring about new relationships between science, art and other visual media, and new ways of practicing science and organizing scientific work, especially as new visual media are being adopted by science studies scholars in their own practice. This volume reflects on how scientists use images in the computerization age, and how digital technologies are affecting the study of science.

Hardcover: 292 pages
Publisher: Routledge (22 Oct 2014)
ISBN-13: 978-0415814454

Mapping Spaces: Networks of Knowledge in the Landscape Art of the 17th Century, ZKM Karlsruhe

Mapping Space, ZKM Karlsruhe

Mapping Space, ZKM Karlsruhe

Mapping Space, ZKM Karlsruhe

Mapping Space, ZKM Karlsruhe

Mapping Space, ZKM Karlsruhe

Mapping Space, ZKM Karlsruhe

Mapping Space, ZKM Karlsruhe

12 April – 13 July, 2014
An exhibition at the ZKM Museum of Contemporary Art
Opening: Fri, April 11, 2014, 7 p.m.

The ZKM throws new light on 17th century landscape painting. Comparable to modern satellite surveying (GPS), true to scale landscape representation is also indebted to the interdisciplinary exchange of knowledge: the alliance of geodesists, mathematicians, instrument makers and painters. Artists had designed modern surveying systems long before new media drew on images from outer space.

The exhibition Mapping Spaces examines, for the first time ever on this scale, the influence of early modern guide books in geography, the science of surveying and the construction of fortification on Dutch painting around 1650. The prelude to the project, developed at the University of Trier, is Pieter Snayers‘ large-format depiction of historical battle scenes, in which maps and landscape paintings are projected over one another so as to document the most recent developments in modern engineering, ballistics and the fortification construction.

Over 220 exhibits, among them paintings, surveying instruments, graphics devices, books, maps and globes drawn from the most important collections of works, such as from the Prado (Madrid), the Louvre (Paris), the Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam) or the Kunsthistorischen Museum (Vienna) testify to these new theses in pictorial science. The new mapping of an early modern area of knowledge is accompanied by contemporary works of art that thematize the influence of technological developments on our present-day perception of space.

Das ZKM wirft einen neuen Blick auf die Landschaftsmalerei des 17. Jahrhunderts. Vergleichbar der modernen Satellitenvermessung (GPS) verdankt sich auch die maßstäbliche Landschaftsaufnahme einem verzweigten Netzwerk des Wissens: der Allianz von Geodäten, Mathematikern, Instrumentenbauern und Malern. Lange bevor die Neuen Medien sich also digitaler Bilder aus dem All bedienten, entwarfen Künstler moderne Fernerkundungssysteme.

Die Ausstellung „Mapping Spaces“ untersucht erstmals in diesem Umfang den Einfluss frühneuzeitlicher Handbücher zur Geographie, der Vermessungskunde und dem Festungsbau auf die niederländische Malerei um 1650. Den Auftakt des an der Universität Trier entwickelten Projektes bilden die großformatigen Kriegspanoramen Pieter Snayers, in denen Karten und Landschaftsbilder übereinander projiziert werden, um die neuesten Errungenschaften des modernen Ingenieurwesens, der Ballistik und des Festungsbaus zu dokumentieren.

Mehr als 220 Exponate, darunter Gemälde, Messinstrumente, Zeichengeräte, Bücher, Karten und Globen aus den bedeutendsten Sammlungen der Welt wie dem Prado (Madrid), dem Louvre (Paris), dem Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam) oder dem Kunsthistorischen Museum (Wien) belegen diese neue, bildwissenschaftliche These. Die Neu-Kartierung eines frühneuzeitlichen Wissensraumes wird begleitet von zeitgenössischen Kunstwerken, die den Einfluss technologischer Entwicklungen auf unsere heutige Raumwahrnehmung thematisieren.

500 page book accompanies the exhibition

Wie funktioniert Echtzeit, und wie fühlt sie sich an?

Das Irre an der Zeit ist, dass sie trotz eines wissenschaftlichen Einheitssystems eine überaus subjektive, stets changierende Größe ist. Etwa die, auf die Martin John Callanan aufmerksam macht. Sieben Jahre hat er ein Programm entwickelt und es mit Datenleitungen verknüpft, um in Echtzeit weltweit alle abgehenden Flüge komprimiert zu visualisieren. Aber wer mag wohl im Flieger nach Dubai auf Platz E 12 sitzen? Wie schaut er aus? Wie dem Datenmeer Sinnvolles entnehmen? Und was würde es bringen, so lange, wie es vermutlich dauern würde? Überlegungen, die in wenigen Sekunden aufblitzen. Anders Katie Patersons Skulptur nur wenige Meter entfernt: ein Plattenspieler, der in Erdrotationsgeschwindigkeit Vivaldis “Vier Jahreszeiten” abspielt – eine Runde am Tag. Aber Moment: Nach innen verjüngen sich die Kreise. Verlangsamt sich das Gerät? Dehnt sich die Zeit? Zeit ist eben relativ.
Bis 15. Februar, Di-Sa 11-18 Uhr, Friedrichstr. 123


A Planetary Order, Galerie Christian Ehrentraut, Berlin

A Planetary Order, Galerie Christian Ehrentraut, Berlin A Planetary Order, Galerie Christian Ehrentraut, Berlin A Planetary Order, Galerie Christian Ehrentraut, Berlin A Planetary Order, Galerie Christian Ehrentraut, Berlin A Planetary Order, Galerie Christian Ehrentraut, Berlin A Planetary Order, Galerie Christian Ehrentraut, Berlin

A Planetary Order
Martin John Callanan, Rebecca Partridge, Katie Paterson
Galerie Christian Ehrentraut, Berlin
10 January – 15 February 2014

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A Planetary Order brings together three artists who, though working in very different media, all explore meta-narratives of time, landscape and systematic abstraction with a combination of sincerity and playfulness. The juxtaposition of painting, sculpture and new media works emphasises the conceptual concerns of the artists who also share a meticulous minimalist aesthetic. The works hover between seriousness and humour, the romantic and the rational, reduction and sublime scale, all within a dialogue which encompasses works made both with highly traditional means and the most current new media technology. The exhibition reflects a growing interest in a return to metaphysical themes, which though sincere, is not without critical distance and awareness of the comical.

The exhibition found its name in Martin John Callanan’s A Planetary Order (Terrestrial Cloud Globe) a 3D printed globe which, sitting directly on the gallery floor, on close inspection reveals the cloud cover of one single moment in time. This inconspicuous piece is in fact an ambitious ‘physical visualisation of real-time scientific data’ taken from cloud monitoring satellites overseen by NASA and the European Space Agency. Callanan’s transformation of data into artworks which articulate both the enormity of interconnected global systems and our place within them, continues with his most recent work, Departure of All; a flight departure board displaying the flight information for every international airport around the world. Running in real time, the speed of global transit creates a dizzying account of single moments. Katie Paterson provides a counterpoint to this overwhelm with her imperceptibly slow work, As The World Turns; a record player which, rotating at the speed of the earth, plays Vivaldi’s Four Seasons audible through headphones to only the most attentive listener. As with Callanan, Paterson’s artwork occupies a space far greater than the actual work- activating an imaginative space which is both metaphysical and comic; the record player suggesting the turning earth which we are able to look down upon. Along the long wall of the gallery hangs Notes on The Sea, a (diptych in twelve parts) the series of twelve minimal photorealist paintings calmly depicts fog veiled seascapes as polarities of night and day. In this work the archetypal romantic image enters into a contradiction with itself as it becomes part of a system. Playing with notions of duration, mathematic abstraction, and the possibility of painting a beautiful landscape, Partridge’s attempt to rationalize the epitomised romantic landscape is both meditative and absurd.


Martin John Callanan
1982, UK. Lives and works in Berlin and London

Martin John Callanan’s artwork has been exhibited and published internationally, he has recently been awarded the prestigious Philip Leverhulme Prize for outstanding research within visual arts. Recent solo exhibiitons include Departure of All, Noshowspace (UK) and Martin John Callanan, Horrach Moya (Spain). His work has been shown as part of Open Cube White Cube, (UK), Along Some Sympathetic Lines, Or Gallery (Germany), Es Baluard Modern and Contemporary Art Museum (Mallorca), Whitechapel Gallery (UK), Ars Electronic Centre (Austria), ISEA, Future,Everything, Riga Centre for New Media Culture (Latvia), Whitstable Biennale (UK),, and Imperial War Museum North (UK). Callanan graduated with an MFA from the Slade School of Fine Art, London in 2005, where he is currently Teaching Fellow in Fine Art Media.

Rebecca Partridge
1976, UK. Lives and works in Berlin and London

Rebecca Partridge gained an MA in Fine Art from the Royal Academy Schools, London in 2007, since which time she has been exhibiting internationally. Recent solo exhibitions include In The Daytime at Kunsthalle CCA Andratx (Spain), Cabinet Paintings at Newcastle University, (UK), as well as numerous international group exhibitions most recently Verstand und Gefühl, Landscape und der Zeitgenössiche Romantik at Springhornhof Neuenkirchen. In 2008 she was awarded a fellowship from Terra Foundation of American Art in Giverny (France). Other awarded residencies include the Sanskriti Foundation (New Dehli, India); Kunsthalle CCA (Spain); Nes residency (Iceland) and the TIPP Program for Contemporary Art (Hungary). She is currently working on several curatorial projects and is a Lecturer on both BA and MA Fine Art at West Dean College, UK.

Katie Paterson
1981, UK Lives and works in Berlin

Katie Paterson graduated from the Slade School of Fine Art, London in 2007. Paterson’s work is known internationally, recent solo exhibitions include In Another Time, Mead Gallery (University of Warwick, UK) Katie Paterson, Kettle’s Yard (Cambridge, UK) Inside This Desert, BAWAG Contemporary (Vienna) and 100 Billion Suns at Haunch of Venison (London). Her works have been exhibited in major exhibitions such as the Light Show at the Hayward Gallery (London); Dissident Futures, Yerba Buena Centre for the Arts (San Francisco); Light and Landscape at Storm King Art Centre (Hudson Valley, USA); Marking Time at MCA (Sydney) Continuum at James Cohan Gallery (New York) and Altermodern at Tate Britain (UK). She is represented in collections including the Guggenheim (New York) and Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (Edinburgh).

Gallery info and plan PDF
Exhibition dossier
Download the exhibition publication (PDF)

Fakturen, Leuphana University of Lüneburg

fakturen, Martin John Callanan

Eine Ausstellung organisiert vom Leuphana Arts Program (LAP)

zu Gast im Kunstraum der Leuphana Universität Lüneburg

Kunst und Wissenschaft stehen in einem komplexen und spannungsreichen Verhältnis. Die Ausstellung des Leuphana Arts Program präsentiert fünf künstlerische Positionen, die mit ihren Methoden und Resultaten nicht wissenschaftliche Projekte oder Forschungsfelder visualisieren wollen, sondern die in ihrem je eigenen ästhetischen Modus über die Möglichkeiten von Wissen und Erkennen reflektieren und Interpretationen wissenschaftlicher Beobachtungen, Datensätze und Szenarien anbieten. Indem sie den Fokus auf Grauzonen wissenschaftlicher Wahrnehmung legen, schärfen die Werke und Projekte der Ausstellung den Blick für die medialen und epistemologischen Bedingungen wissenschaftlicher Praxis.

Mit Arbeiten von Martin John Callanan (UK), Driessens & Verstappen (NL), Sabrina Raaf (US), Jan-Peter E.R. Sonntag (D) und Herwig Turk (A/PT)

Kuratiert von Andreas Broeckmann und Alexandra Waligorski

im Rahmen der GfM Jahrestagung 2013

Ort: Kunstraum der Leuphana Universität Lüneburg, Campus Halle 25
Laufzeit: 3.10. – 9.11.2013
Öffnungszeiten: Mi – Sa 12-16 Uhr (am Do 3.10 und Fr 4.10. bis 22 Uhr)
Eröffnungsempfang: Do 3.10. 19-23 Uhr

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Night on the Brocken, Nicholas Alfrey

Martin John Callanan’s work engages most directly with scientific methods: his A Planetary Order (Terrestrial Cloud Globe) utilizes the complex apparatus of state-backed meteorological data collection to model a single moment in the atmospheric history of the planet. The cloud cover as recorded by six cloud-monitoring satellites is mapped on to a globe, a physical (rather than virtual) object created by means of cutting-edge digital manufacturing technology. It is the counterpart to Constable’s cloud studies for the age of IT, but whereas for Constable clouds were ‘the chief organ of sentiment’ in a picture, they can now be visualised as forming an entire global regime. The piece gains a touching, almost absurd, quality of understatement through the disparity of its unassuming physical presence and the prodigious depth and scope of the knowledge it encapsulates.

Extract from the essay Night on the Brocken, Nicholas Alfrey, to accompany the exhibition Reason and Emotion Landscape and the Contemporary Romantic, Springhornhof.

Purchase the book via Amazon.

Wir laden ein zu einem romantischen Sonntag auf dem Lande!

I shall be at Springhornhof this weekend 7 July 2013 for the current exhibition featuring of A Planetary Order and the exhibition book launch.

Am Sonntag, dem 7. Juli 2013

11 Uhr Fahrradtour zur Kunst in der Landschaft

mit den Kuratorinnen Rebecca Partridge, Randi Nygård und Bettina v. Dziembowski geht es zu Landschaftskunstwerken in der Umgebung des Dorfes, die besondere Bezüge zur Epoche der Romantik haben.

Teilnahme frei / Leihfahrrad € 5 (bitte reservieren!)

13 Uhr Zwiebelkuchen & Salat im Springhornhof

14 Uhr Rundgang mit den Kuratorinnen und anwesenden Künstlern durch die Ausstellung “Verstand & Gefühl – Landschaft und die zeitgenössische Romantik”

Wir freuen uns, an diesem Tag den druckfrischen Ausstellungskatalog mit zahlreichen Abbildungen und Texten von Rebecca Partridge, Randi Nygård und Nicholas Alfrey vorstellen zu können!

Die Ausstellung “Verstand & Gefühl – Landschaft und die zeitgenössische Romantik”, die noch bis zum 18. August im Springhornhof zu sehen ist, zeigt Arbeiten von elf internationalen Künstlern die einen Bezug zu Motiven, Gefühlslagen und Ideen der Epoche der Romantik haben. Ein Anliegen der Kunst der Romantik war die Vermittlung intensiver Gefühlszustände in Beziehung mit einer tiefen metaphysischen Verbundenheit zur Natur.
Die Werke in der Ausstellung können in Verbindung mit den Landschaftskunstwerken gelesen werden, die seit den 1970er Jahren rund um das Dorf Neuenkirchen entstanden sind. Die Geschichte der Land Art, ist mit den Fragestellungen der Romantik untrennbar verbunden. In den 1970er Jahren verliessen Künstler wie Walter de Maria und Richard Long die Museen und Galerien, um abgelegene Territorien als Schauplätze und Material für die Kunst zu erschliessen. Die Verbindung der Land Art zur Romantik wurde auch durch das wachsende Bewusstsein von der ökologischen Krise beeinflusst. Viele Künstlerinnen und Künstler haben versucht, die Verwundbarkeit der Natur ins Bild zu setzen, so wie Nils-Udo, der sich 1978 wie ein junger Vogel in ein riesiges, aus dichten Zweigen geflochtenes Nest in einem Waldstück nahe dem Springhornhof kauerte.

Wir danken dem Land Niedersachsen, dem Lüneburgischen Landschaftsverband, dem Office for Contemporary Arts Norway (OCA), der Königlich Norwegische Botschaft Berlin und dem Billedkunstnernes Vederlagsfond (Oslo) für die Förderung der Ausstellung, des Katalogs und der Begleitveranstaltungen.

Verstand und Gefühl, Landschaft und die Zeitgenössische Romantik, Kunstverein Springhornhof, Neuenkirchen, Germany

VERSTAND & GEFÜHL / Landschaft und die zeitgenössische Romantik

VERSTAND & GEFÜHL / Landschaft und die zeitgenössische Romantik

VERSTAND & GEFÜHL / Landschaft und die zeitgenössische Romantik
Kunstverein Springhornhof, Neuenkirchen, Germany
15. Juni – 18. August 2013

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Kuratiert von Rebecca Partridge und Bettina v. Dziembowski

Wohl kaum eine Epoche ist durch so viele Missverständnisse und Widersprüche geprägt wie die „sentimentale“ Romantik und wohl kaum eine Epoche hat unser nordeuropäisches Verhältnis zur Natur und zum Individuum so nachhaltig geprägt. Davon ausgehend setzt die Ausstellung „Verstand & Gefühl“ Motive und Ideenwelten der Romantik in Bezug zu den Arbeiten von elf zeitgenössischen Künstlerinnen und Künstlern.

Charakteristisch für die Romantik des 19. Jhdts. ist die Verlagerung des Interesses vom Verstand zum Gefühl, von der Berechnung zur Intuition, von objektiver Betrachtung zur subjektiven Wahrnehmung. Ein Anliegen der Kunst war der Ausdruck des Individuums, die Vermittlung intensiver Gefühlszustände insbesondere in Beziehung mit einer tiefen metaphysischen Verbundenheit zur Natur.

Die Romantik war jedoch nicht nur paradiesisch und schön, sie umfasste auch das Subversive von Entgrenzungserlebnissen. Künstler wie Delacroix oder Goya stellten in ihren Schreckensszenarien ungezügelte Gefühle dar. Bilder ruinösen Verfalls bei Caspar David Friedrich oder William Turner erinnerten an die Macht der Natur sich die Zivilisation zurückzuerobern.

Vorherrschend jedoch, insbesondere unter den Malern, war die Darstellung unermesslich weiter unzivilisierter Landstriche, deren idealisierte Erhabenenheit die unauflösliche Beziehung des Menschen zur Natur zum Ausdruck brachten. Ehrfurcht einflössend und beängstigend zugleich wird der Betrachter damit konfrontiert, seine eigene Position im Universum zu hinterfragen: Die äussere Landschaft dient als Metapher für eine innere Erfahrung.

In den im Springhornhof gezeigten Arbeiten erweist sich die Romantik als Weltanschauung, die in unterschiedlichsten Strategien der Aneignung aufgenommen, fortgeführt, kritisiert und transformiert wird. Dabei geht es um mehr als um die Wiederbelebung einer Skala von Motiven, die als wehmütige Versatzstücke einer glorreichen Vergangenheit in die zeitgenössische Kunst herübergerettet werden.

Die heutige Romantik ist eine Metaromantik, die nicht nur Schwermut und starke Empfindung zeigt, sondern auch ein Distanzbewusstsein, das sich in ironischen Brechungen äußert. So spielen die beteiligten Künstlerinnen und Künstler nicht nur auf den Topos der romantischen Sehnsucht nach der Natur-Idylle an, sondern auch auf die Umstände dieser Realitätsflucht. Hinter der Sehnsucht nach dem Paradiesischen, Schönen und Märchenhaften ist das Abgründige ebenso präsent wie das Wissen um das Scheitern von Utopien.

REASON & EMOTION / Landscape and the contemporary Romantic

Hardly any epoch has been marked by so many misunderstandings and contradictions as the “sentimental” Romantic era, just as hardly any epoch has so shaped our northern European relationship between nature and the indiviual. On this basis the exhibition “Reason and Emotion” explores ideas and motifs derived from Romanticism in relation to the work of eleven contemporary artists.

Characteristic of the Romanticism of the 19th Century is the shift of interest from reason to feeling, computation to intuition, objective observation to subjective perception. One aim of art at this time was the expression of the individual, the mediation of intense emotional states, particularly in relationship with a deep metaphysical connection to nature.

However, the Romantic was not only heavenly and beautiful, it also included the delineation of subversive experiences. Artists such as Delacroix and Goya presented scenarios of unbridled emotions in all their horror. Caspar David Friedrich and William Turner recalled the power of nature to regain civilisation through dark images of ruinous decay.

Predominantly, however, especially among the painters, was the presentation of immeasurably more uncivilised lands, whose idealised grandeur expressed the indissoluble relationship of man to nature. Awe-inspiring and frightening at the same time, the viewer is confronted with the question of his own position in the universe: the outer landscape serves as a metaphor for an inner experience.

In the works shown in Springhornhof the Romantic pervades, however not as a revival of a set of motifs sentimentally salvaged from a glorious past, but incorporated in a variety of strategies of appropriation, continuation, critique and transformation.

Today’s Romanticism is a Meta-Romantic showing not only melancholy and strong sensation, but also a distance, an awareness that manifests itself in ironic reflections. Thus, the participating artists play not only with the notion of romantic longing for nature-idyll, but also with the circumstances of this escapism. Behind the longing for the paradisiacal, the beautiful and fairy-tale, the abyss is just as present as the knowledge of the failure of utopias.

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Download the exhibition publication as a PDF

Data Soliloquies book review on Furtherfield by Pau Waelder

Book review by Pau Waelder – 03/02/2010

Data Soliloquies is a book about the extraordinary cultural fluidity of scientific data

Data Soliloquies
Richard Hamblyn and Martin John Callanan
London: Slade Press, 2009
112 pages
ISBN 978-0903305044

Although much has been said about C.P. Snow’s concept of a “third culture”, we haven’t actually reached an understanding between the spheres of science and humanities. This is caused in part by the high degree of specialisation in each field, which usually prevents researchers from considering different perspectives, as well as the controversies that have arisen between academics, exemplified by publications such as Intellectual Impostures (1998) in which physicists Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont criticise the “abuse” of scientific terminology by sociologists and philosophers. Yet there is a growing mutual dependency of both fields of knowledge, as the one hand our society is facing new problems and questions for which the sciences have adequate answers and on the other scientific research can no longer remain isolated from society. Some scientists, such as the astronomer Roger Frank Malina, have even argued that a “better science” will result from the interaction between art, science and technology. Malina presents as an example the “success of the artist in residence and art-science collaboration programs currently being established” [1], and considers the possibility of a “scientist in residence” program in art labs.

Data Soliloquies

Our relationship with the environment is certainly one of the main problems we are going to face during this century and it is also a subject that brings up the necessary communication between science and society. The UCL Environment Institute [2] was established in 2003 to promote an interdisciplinary approach to environmental research and make it available to a wider audience. While being representative of almost every discipline in the University College London, it lacked an interaction with the arts and humanities. This gap has been bridged by establishing an artist and writer residency program in collaboration with the Slade School of Fine Arts and the English Department. Among 100 applications, writer Richard Hamblyn and artist Martin John Callanan were chosen for the 2008-2009 academic year: Data Soliloquies is the result of their work.

Despite “belonging” to the field of art and humanities, neither Hamblyn nor Callanan are strangers to science and technology. Richard Hamblyn is an environmental writer and historian who has developed a particular interest in clouds, and Martin John Callanan is an artist whose remarkably conceptual work merges art and different types of media. This may be the cause that Data Soliloquies is by no means a shy penetration into a foreign field of knowledge but a solid discourse which presents a richly documented critique of the apparently ineffective ways in which scientists have made society aware of such a crucial problem as that of climate change. The title of the book has been borrowed for a term that Jon Adams, researcher at the London School of Economics, coined to refer to Michael Crichton’s novels, who uses “scientific” facts to give his imaginative plots an aura of credibility. With this reference, the authors state that the way scientific data is presented actually constitutes a narrative, an uncontested monologue: “…scientific graphs and images have powerful stories to tell, carrying much in the way of overt and implied narrative content (…) these stories are rarely interrupted or interrogated.”[3]

As the amount of data regularly stored in all sorts of digital supports increases exponentially, and new forms of data visualisation are developed, these “data monologues” become ubiquitous, while remaining unquestioned. In his text, Hamblyn exposes the inexactitude in some popular visualisations of scientific data, which have set aside accuracy in favour of providing a more eloquent image of what the gathered evidences are supposed to tell. On the one hand, Charles D. Keeling’s upward trending graph of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration, which according to Hamblyn is “probably the most important data set in environmental science, and has become something of a freestanding scientific icon”[4], or Michael Mann’s controversial “Hockey Stick” graph are illustrative examples of the way in which information displays have developed their own narratives. On the other, the manipulation of data in order to obtain a more visually effective presentation, such as NASA’s exaggeration of scale in their images of the landscape of Venus or the use of false colours in the reproductions of satellite images, call for a questioning of the supposed objectivity in the information provided by scientific institutions.

Data Soliloquies

In the field of climate science, the stories that graphs and other visualisations can tell have become of great importance, as human activity has a direct impact on global warming, but this relation of cause and effect cannot be easily determined. As Hamblyn states: “climate change is the first major environmental crisis in which the experts appear more alarmed than the public” [5]. The catastrophism with which environmental issues are presented to the public generate a feeling of impotence, and thus any action that an individual can undertake seems ineffective. The quick and resolute reaction of both the population and the governments in the case of the “ozone hole” in 1985 points in the direction of finding a clear and compelling image of the effects of climate change. As Hamblyn underscores, this is not only a subject for engineers: “the reality of ongoing climate change has yet to be embraced as a stimulus to creativity –in the arts as well as the sciences– or as a permanent and inescapable part of human societal development” [6].

Data Soliloquies

Martin John Callanan took upon himself to develop a creative response to this issue, and has done so, not simply by creating images or objects but by depicting processes. He states: “I’m more interested in systems –systems that define how we live our lives” [6]. A quick look at his previous work [7] will show how appropriate this statement is: he has visited each and every station of the London underground, collected every command of the Photoshop application in his computer, officially changed his name (to the same he already had), gathered the front page of hundreds of newspapers from around the world and engaged himself in many other activities that are as systematic and mechanical as ironic, poetic or simply nihilistic. During his residency, Callanan created to main projects. The first one, Planetary Order, is a globe in which the patterns of the clouds on a particular date (February 6th, 2009) have been sculpted. The artist composed the readings of NASA’s cloud monitoring satellites in a virtual 3D computer model, which was then laser melted on a compacted nylon powder sphere at the Digital Manufacturing Centre at the UCL Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment. The resulting object is a sculpture, an artwork more than any sort of model in the sense that it develops a discourse beyond the actual presentation of data. An impeccable white sphere textured by its subtle protuberances, the globe evokes the perfection of an ancient marble sculpture while presenting us with an uncommon view of the Earth, covered with clouds. The clouds, which are usually erased in the depictions of our planet in order to let us see the shapes of the continents (the land which is our dominion), become an icon of climate change and the image of an order which is, in all senses, above us. Callanan freezes the planetary order of clouds in an impossible map, a metaphorical object which appears to us as a faultless, yet fragile and inscrutable machine.

The second of Callanan’s artistic projects is the series Text Trends. Using Google data, the artist has collected the number of searches for selected terms related to climate change in a time range of several years (from 2004 to 2007-2008). With this data, he has generated a series of minimalistic graphs in which two jagged lines, one red and the other blue, cross the page describing the frequency of searches (or popularity) for two competing terms. The result resembles an electrocardiogram in which we can see the “life” of a particular word, as opposed to another, in a simple but eloquent dialogue of abstract forms. Callanan has chosen to confront terms in pairs such as “summer vs. winter”, “climate change vs. war on terror” or “global warming”. Simple as they may seem, the graphs are telling and constitute and visual summary of the book whilst suggesting many other reflections. The final conclusion is presented in the last graph, in which the perception of climate change is expressively described by the image of a vibrant line for the word “now”, much higher in the chart than the flat line for the word “later”.

Pau Waelder

[1] Roger Frank Malina, “Leonardo Timeshift“, Ars Electronica Catalog Archive.

[2] UCL Environment Institute.
[3] R. Hamblyn and M.J.Callanan. Data Soliloquies, 14.
[4] R. Hamblyn and M.J.Callanan. Data Soliloquies, 25.
[5] R. Hamblyn and M.J.Callanan. Data Soliloquies, 47.
[6] R. Hamblyn and M.J.Callanan. Data Soliloquies, 66.
[7] Martin John Callanan’s personal website.

Review originally published on FurtherField

Martin John Callanan: On Systems and Processes (de sistemas y procesos) arte_contemporáneo_internacional a

Article and interview with Pau Waelder in #53

Download the full article as PDF international_contemporary_art announces the publication of its issue #53, with the following contents:

• Project #44: Marina Núñez, Necrosis. (2013), digital image.
Cover and 22 inside pages. As always, an exclusive for the magazine (the originals belong to the Collection).
Introductory text: Susana Cendán: Marina Núñez: “Everything has to do with the monsters”.

• Reflections:
– China’s Long March (4/10) (Zhang Fang).
– Meschac Gaba: Trying to change African society (Abdellah Karroum).
– A quantum reflection of Bakalhau (Cod Fish) (Fernando Galán).

• Media Art:
– Martin John Callanan: On Systems and Processes (Pau Waelder).

• Interview:
– Rafa Macarrón: “the solitude of man before the universe inmensity” (Fernando Galán).

• Film:
– Lipsett: a personal dilemma (Jorge D. González).

• Work_and_Word:
– Marco Ayres (Portugal)
– Simón Vega (El Salvador)
– Luis Gordillo (Spain)
– Pipo Hernández (Spain)
– Natxo Frisuelos (Spain)

• Exhibitions:
– The sublimation of detail: José Ferrero (Madrid) (Terry Berne).
– Bunga: beyond space: Carlos Bunga (Santa Mónica, California, USA) (Béatrice Chassepot).
– The descent into Marina Núñez’s hells (Valladolid, España) (Alfonso León).
– Reinterpreting art’s recent history: Roger Gustafsson (Madrid) (Fernando Galán).
– If you like small things: group show (A Coruña, España) (Nilo Casares).

• Museums
– Critical museology (2/2): On the limits of institutional art criticism (and critical museology as established discourse (Jesús Pedro Lorente)

• What’s going on in… Toronto? (John K. Grande).

• Books:
– “La Movida”, counterculture and normalization (La Movida, au nom du Père, des fils et du Todo Vale) (Juan Albarrán). is a 100 % bilingual magazine (English/Spanish) with contributions from the world over, and aimed at the entire world of genuinely contemporary art. focuses on established art as well as the latest creative iniciatives emerging from every corner of the planet. It informs and reflects on topics of interest, but with a fresh language and crisp design which are comprehensible to both specialists and amateurs. It has over 90 specialized collaborators and correspondents covering each and every geographical and thematic area of the contemporary art world.

Press release

Data Soliloquies extract: Clouds

In their role as climate change canaries, clouds are both more prevalent and closer to home than Arctic ice-caps or polar bears. Cloud patterns have long been read as short-range weather indicators, but more recently they have begun to be seen as longer term climatic signals. Their messages are far from clear, however, and so far little is certain about the roles that clouds are likely to play in shaping future conditions on earth.

Will clouds turn out to be agents of warming, veiling us in an ever-thickening greenhouse of emissions, or will they end up saving the day by reflecting ever more sunlight back into space? These, it turns out, are far from simple questions, and cloud behaviour continues to offer serious impediments to understanding future climates, since a change in almost any aspect of clouds, such as their type, location, water content, longevity, altitude, particle size and overall shape, changes the degree to which clouds will serve to warm or cool the earth.

As is so often the case with climate science, research yields apparently contradictory results. On the one hand, for example, many climate scientists believe that continued surface warming will cause increased water vapour to rise from the oceans, leading to an overall increase in cloud formation — while on the other hand, particularly in warmer latitudes, an increase in the water vapour content of our atmosphere could see large convective cumuliform clouds building up and raining out far quicker than they do at present, thereby leading to a net decrease in the earth’s total cloud cover. Low-level stratiform clouds, meanwhile, tend to shield the earth from incoming solar radiation, but recent research has shown that such clouds are more likely to dissipate in warmer conditions, thus allowing the oceans to heat up further, and causing yet further stratiform cloud loss. Scientists currently have no idea which of these outcomes is the most likely, nor do they really know the kind of long-term influences that either is likely to have. Even if, for the sake of argument, it’s assumed that overall cloud cover will increase as the surface of our planet continues to warm, it remains unclear what kind of clouds (and thus what kind of feedback mechanisms) are likely to predominate.

For instance, high, thin clouds, such as cirrostratus, tend to have an overall warming effect, as they admit shortwave solar radiation in from above, while bouncing longwave back-radiation (reflected from the sunlit ground) back down to earth. Any increase in cirrostratus cloud cover would therefore add another warming mechanism to our climate. In contrast, however, bright, dense cumulus clouds serve to cool the earth by reflecting incoming sunlight back into space by day. At night, these same clouds tend to exert a slight warming effect, by absorbing or reflecting back-radiation, but their overall influence is a cooling one, especially when their summits grow dense and white. So, in theory, an increase in high, thin clouds would amplify the global warming effect, while an increase in low, dense, puffy clouds would have a contrary cooling effect — which is why cloud-whitening has recently been advanced as a geo-engineering idea for mitigating the effects of climate change, with salt water to be sprayed from thousands of ships in order to create brighter and more reflective clouds over the oceans. In reality, of course, things are never that simple, and clouds have always had an interesting habit of behaving in unpredictable ways.

For example, after the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, all commercial flights in the United States were grounded for several days, leaving the skies contrail-free for the first time in decades. The result, according to a comparison of nationwide temperature records, was slightly warmer days and slightly cooler nights than were usual for that time of year, the normal night/day temperature range having increased by 1.1 degrees C. According to the climate scientists who worked on the data, this was probably due to additional sunlight reaching the surface by day, and additional radiation escaping at night through the unusually cloudless skies. At first sight this might seem counter-intuitive, for surely the kind of cirriform clouds created by the spreading of aircraft contrails are straightforward warming clouds, the kind that allow sunlight through, while bouncing back-radiation down to the lower atmosphere? Surely an absence of contrails ought to have an overall cooling effect?

But contrails are a lot more complicated than that, because when they are in their initial, water droplet, stage they are denser than natural cirrus clouds, since they are created from two distinct sources of vapour: the moisture emitted by the aircraft’s exhaust, and the moisture already in the atmosphere, all of which is condensed into a turbulent mixture of large water droplets and ice crystals, seeded on the solid particulates present in the exhaust plume. At first, this young contrail behaves more like a fluffy low-level cloud, reflecting sunlight back into space, and exerting a short-term localized cooling effect. But if persistent contrails start to spread, they thin out into cirriform cloud layers, which can often cover large areas of sky. Their overall effect then reverts to a warming one, consistent with the known behaviour of natural cirriform clouds.

Image taken from NASA / Contrails over the southeastern U.S. January 2004

The picture is complicated yet further by the time of day that the contrails form and spread. If contrails spread during the early morning or late evening, they can exercise a slight cooling effect, due to the angle at which sunlight is reflected off the ice crystals into the upper atmosphere. At night, by contrast, all clouds, including contrails, can only exert a warming effect, since there is no incoming sunlight to reflect into space. Any increase in night flights is therefore likely to raise temperatures on the ground: and that increase is already well underway. In fact, the projected warming effects associated with the rise in night flights are in the region of a 0.2-0.3 degrees C hike per decade in the United States alone — and this figure does not include the other warming effects of aviation, such as increased CO2 emissions and local ozone formation. Of course, much about contrail science remains new and uncertain, and little about these man-made clouds is understood entirely, especially when it comes to the skies above the developing world, where flights are becoming increasingly prevalent. But the difference between the skies above busy flight corridors and those above sparsely flown areas is clearly visible from space. Whether aircraft of the future will need to change the altitudes or times of day at which they fly in order to modify their contrail formation is a matter of current speculation; as David Travis, the atmospheric scientist who led the post-9/11 contrail research, has pointed out, ‘what we’ve shown is that contrails are capable of affecting temperatures. Which direction, in terms of net heating or cooling, is still up in the air.’

Equally up in the air, albeit at a far greater distance, are noctilucent clouds (NLCs), the changing patterns of which have become apparent over the past two decades. First observed and named in the 1880s, NLCs were once the rarest clouds of all, but not only are they now appearing far more often, they also shine brighter than they did before, and are observable from increasingly lower latitudes. According to one hypothesis, NLCs are being formed from plumes of space shuttle exhaust jettisoned into the earth’s upper atmosphere, where neither water vapour nor dust nuclei are common natural occurrences, and therefore these clouds’ increased appearance (an increase of 8 percent per decade) is due to a proportionate increase in space shuttle traffic. Other research, however, points to the fact that extreme cold is needed to form icy clouds in environments as dry as the mesosphere, 50 to 80 kilometres above the earth’s surface, where temperatures as low as -130 degrees C are normal.

Image taken form NASA / Noctilucent clouds

Strange as it may seem, the increased concentrations of atmospheric greenhouse gases that have contributed to raising temperatures on earth are also serving to create colder conditions in the earth’s outer atmosphere. This is because greenhouse gases trap much of the longwave surface radiation that has started its return journey back out into space. With less thermal energy able to escape from the lower atmosphere, the upper atmosphere is thereby growing correspondingly chillier. So could the observed increase in noctilucent cloud formation be due to mesospheric cooling, the lesser-known counterpart to global surface warming; and might their increased brightness be due to larger ice crystals being formed from a high-altitude influx of water vapour from the warming layers below? After all, NLCs have only been in evidence since the 1880s, the heyday of the Industrial Revolution, so it is possible that they will turn out to be yet another anthropogenic phenomenon — if so, the visible impact of human activity will have extended much further into our fragile atmosphere than we could ever have previously suspected. Whatever the secrets of these mysterious clouds, it is hoped that the AIM (Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere) satellite, which was launched by NASA in April 2007 on a mission to study NLCs at close range, will be able to provide some answers to these questions.

Viewed from ground level, clouds are short-lived localized phenomena, undergoing rapid alterations as they pass overhead; when viewed from space, however, their individual movements are subsumed into large-scale formations that range slowly across the earth’s surface, connecting vast tracts of land and sea through enormous geophysical processes. Seen from space, what from earth is merely an indistinct bank of stratocumulus cloud, becomes part of a visible planetary order. It was this dual perspective that led Martin John Callanan to produce a terrestrial cloud globe, entitledA Planetary Order, the many technical challenges of which were worked through and overcome during his residency at the UCL Environment Institute.

Image by Martin John Callanan / A Planetary Order (Terrestrial Cloud Globe), 2009

‘Unlike Richard, who’s got a huge fascination with clouds, I’m more interested in systems — systems that define how we live our lives’ (MJC). Showing the earth’s cloud cover from one second in time, the shimmering white cloud globe freeze-frames the entire operation of the global atmospheric regime, and highlights how fragile the environmental (and informational) systems are that operate across the world. For the globe is created from raw information, being a physical visualization of real-time scientific data. One second’s worth of readings from all six cloud-monitoring satellites that are currently overseen by NASA and the European Space Agency was transformed into a virtual 3-D computer model, which was ‘3-D drawn’, or rather, laser melted, at the Digital Manufacturing Centre at the UCL Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment. It was the largest object ever created by the Digital Manufacturing Centre, and it took two full days to build, the delicate outlines and profiles of the clouds emerging slowly as the laser carved gently across the compacted nylon powder surface of the sphere.

Unlike most of NASA’s own data visualizations, the globe features no added colour, only the sculpted whiteness of the raw material that throws a maze of faint shadows across the structure. From out of these shadows, in the right angles of light, emerge the global cloud patterns taken on 2 February 2009 at 0600 UTC precisely, and, under them, the implied outlines of the continents below, seen as though glimpsed through mist, or rather, through the mystifying quantity of atmospheric data that is currently being collected from the silent fleet of satellites in orbit some 36,000 kilometres out in space — an increasingly hertzian environment, where an electronic Babel of satellites, radio signals, text messages and security frequencies vibrate with an invisible stream of man-made weather. Though far from earth’s surface, we have nevertheless made it back to something resembling Borges’s 1:1 scale Map of the Empire, for, by taking a single second’s worth of transmitted information, our entire world has been made anew, pristine, white, and wreathed in the haze of an artificial atmosphere, held aloft like the fossilized egg of a long-extinct species that is about to be brought back to life from a single rescued strand of DNA.

This Guest post by Martin John Callanan forms part of the discussion in the urbanTick series on Ecological Urbanism.
It is an extract from the book Data Soliloquies, commissioned by UCL Environment Institute

Digital, Interactive and Visual Arts: A Planetary Order

Digital, Interactive and Visual Arts

A Planetary Order written about by Iwao Haruguchi in DiVA issue 31 (PDF: Japanese)

第31号 (2012年冬号)
■SIGGRAPH2012 Art Gallery(春口巌)
■連載:3D CADを利用して
■論文募集:芸術科学フォーラム,NICO Int.

MARTIN JOHN CALLANAN: Martin John Callanan, Horrach Moyà, Palma de Mallorca

MARTIN JOHN CALLANAN: Martin John Callanan
Horrach Moyà, Palma de Mallorca
29 November 2012 – 17 January 17 February 2013 (extended one month)
Opening, 8pm, 29 November 2012

On May 16, 2008, Martin John Callanan changed his name to Martin John Callanan, by Deed Poll, sworn and sealed at the City of London Magistrate’s Court. On July 5, 2012, Martin John Callanan assumed the name of Martin John Callanan by Deed Poll, sworn and sealed by a Comissioner for Oath, and enrolled in the Supreme Court of Judicature. Through this action, at once absurd and totally in keeping with the laws of the United Kingdom, the artist Martin John Callanan (formerly Martin John Callanan) turns an administrative process into a reflexion on his own identity and the systems that validate the laws and institutions that govern our society.

We live in a multitude of systems: natural systems that affect our environment, social systems that define the possible actions in the framework of an established community, computer systems that enable and control the transmission and storage of data with which we create our memory and the image of our world. They shape our everyday reality, but we tend to ignore their existence or assume it as an indisputable fact: as the clouds floating overhead, these systems respond to a logic that is largely out of reach of the average citizen.

Through methodical and precise processes, Martin John Callanan explores the notion of citizenship in a globally connected world. The relationship between the individual and the systems that surround and affect our lives take shape in a series of works in which both the structures and the fragility of these systems are shown, sometimes by resorting to the absurd and the excess of information. The atworks in this exhibition at Horrach Moyà Gallery venture into the dynamics of natural, economic, administrative and mass media systems by means of an observation both on the cosmic and the microscopic level.

Inspired by the forms of scientific data visualization, the artist made in A Planetary Order (Terrestrial Cloud Globe) a globe that only shows the position of the clouds during a second in February 2, 2009. This ephemeral map, made from hundreds of photographs from NASA satellites, is embodied in a sculpture created with a 3D printer and shown as an unattended object, an ignored finding, a fragile piece containing an unusual vision of our environment .

The economic system, which has raised to such notorious prominence in recent years because of its obvious impact on our lives, is a complex structure whose functioning is increasingly necessary to understand and, as much as possible, to predict or even control. In this sense, and in response to the dominance of macroeconomics in the discourse of the media, the artist chooses a microscopic view of the world economy. The Fundamental Units, a series that begins with the works produced by Horrach Moyà Gallery for this exhibition, is an exploration of the lowest denomination coins from the world’s currencies using an infinite focus 3D optical microscope at the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington (UK). The images obtained with the microscope have been combined to form an extremely detailed large scale reproduction of the least valuable coins from Australia, Chile, the Euro, Myanmar and the Kingdom of Swaziland. In these images the humble metal acquires a planetary dimension and is displayed as the atoms that shape the global economy.

The reality shown by the media consists in turn of its own units, the news covering the front pages of newspapers and circulated by television and radio, websites, blogs and social networks. The speed and density of the information flow that is generated in every corner of the planet and invades all communication channels exposes us to a saturation that paradoxically makes data illegible. I Wanted to See All of the News From Today deals with this excess of information by means of a web site that automatically collects the front pages of hundreds of newspapers around the world and displays them in a grid. From these data, the artist has produced a series of prints in which the pages of newspapers form a totemic picture of everyday life in the information society.

Martin John Callanan completes this exhibition with Deed Poll, which is both the action taken in the process of change (or recovery) of his name on July 5, 2012 and the legal documents, canceled passport, letters and responses, official notice in the newspaper and other items related to this administrative procedure. Callanan thus adds to his analysis of the systems that determine the conditions of life in the societies and the planet we inhabit an action on a personal level, as an individual and citizen that participates (voluntarily and involuntarily) in the dynamics generated by these systems.

Pau Waelder, Curator

Texto en español (PDF)

Reviews in El Mundo, Diario de Mallorca and Ultima Hora: PDF (Spanish)

Art for science’s sake, UCL Lunch Hour Lecture, 1 November 2012

Art for science’s sake, UCL Lunch Hour Lecture, 1 November 2012
Dr Chiara Ambrosio, UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies

For centuries, scientists have sought help from artistic practice as a visual aid. This lecture will explore case studies from the 18th to the 21st century, to show that artists have often participated in the growth of scientific knowledge by disturbing and questioning concepts that scientists take for granted. Would current artist in residence programmes benefit from adopting a more sustained critical role, in light of this history?

Related post by Johanna Kieniewicz ‏from the British Library: Why scientists should care about art