Ane Graff / Stian Ådlandsvik and Lutz-Rainer Müller / Tue Greenfort / Toril Johannessen/ Bård Ask / Henrik Håkansson et al.
Nature is never so admired as when she is understood. – Bernard le Bovier de Fontenelle (1657-1757).
In the 19th century – at a time when large parts of the world were as yet unknown – scientists set out on expeditions in order to map new territories. One example of which was the French La Recherche expedition, which surveyed Scandinavia and the North Atlantic, and visited Trondheim among other places. Scientists would be joined on their travels by authors and artists, who fulfilled an important task in describing and depicting the scientific findings. Through paintings, drawings and literature, ordinary people were given the opportunity to see and experience places they themselves would never visit.
The advent of the photographic medium meant that documenting and disseminating could be done more efficiently, and thus the role of the artist changed. Advances in technology also offered the natural sciences the possibility of exploring parts of the world not visible to the naked eye – such as bacteria, atoms, or distant galaxies.
Just as natural science has evolved, artists today have a different approach to the world than they did in the 1800s. Many artists these days employ methods that are reminiscent of scientific research, but where science seeks to answer specific questions, the artist’s goal is to contextualise, problematize and visualise. Rather than focussing on the classical landscape painting and the majesty of nature, artists of today focus on the materiality, ecology, physics and chemistry of nature in order to describe and understand the physical world in which we live.
NATURvitenskap showcases a number of artists who take a scientific approach to their practice, albeit with a ponderous inquisitiveness towards natural phenomena. As artists, they can allow themselves to merge fiction and reality freely, thus being ambiguous and direct at the same time. Art’s inherent freedom opens up possibilities for alternative perspectives and a new understanding. In this way, art and natural science can still inform, and benefit from, one another.