Inhaltspezifische Aktionen

Fellows Planetary Materials (2022)

Claudia Hartl

Claudia Hartl is an enthusiastic dendrochronologist, geographer and ecologist with a strong background in climatology. After studying Geography at the University of Regensburg, she received her PhD from the Technical University of Munich. With this, her path in tree-ring research was initiated by using dendrochronology in her PhD thesis to investigate the response of the most important mountain forest tree species of the Northern Limestone Alps to climate change.

In her postdoc phase at the Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz, her research focus continued to be on tree rings and answering a wide variety of historical, climatological and ecological research questions on different spatio-temporal scales. This includes, for example, forest damage in Northern Norway by the presence of a German Navy battleship in World War II and the reconstruction of the Central European climate of the past millenium. Since June 2021 she is an independent researcher and the founder of 'Nature Rings – Environmental Research & Education'. She is currently studying the effects of the extreme drought since 2018, which has led to numerous tree die-off.

© Elisa Sholobnjuk


Tree-ring Reports on Forest Dieback

One of the most impressive materials on our planet is wood. However, it is not the composition or the diverse functions of this natural resource making it that interesting, but rather the stories and mysteries written and archived in the tree rings of the wood. Dendrochronology (Greek déndron 'tree', chrónos 'time', lógos 'science'), for example, can be used to analyze the tree species sensitivity or tolerance to climate change, also retroactively. The forests of Germany are in their tree species composition strongly influenced by humans and some species were planted outside their natural distribution range. Due to increased temperatures and higher frequency of drought events, they are facing major challenges. The extremely hot and dry summers of 2018, 2019 and 2020 had serious impacts and led to numerous tree die-off. In order to investigate the current forest dieback in more detail, dead and living trees are dendrochronologically investigated in this project. The tree-ring width reflects a trees’ vitality and thus also allows the assessment of the response to past drought or extreme events. Core samples are taken from dead and living trees using increment borers and crown condition of the sampled trees is recorded. The tree-ring widths are then measured in the laboratory and statistically analyzed with relation to the crown condition data. The ring-width pattern of the dead trees is compared to that of vital trees in order to deduce when the dying process actually started or when turning points were exceeded. Simultaneously, the growth pattern can be used to estimate the potential of the survivors and tree species suitability for more stable forests in the future.

Mathias Kessler

Born in Kempten, Germany, the New York based artist Mathias Kessler engages our collective idea of natureby staging natural processes that are then scrutinized under the lens of art history, philosophy, and eco-political debate. His work acts as a catalyst, revealing the tension between human interventions and our desire for authentic natural experiences. Kessler exposes the impacts that capitalism, memory, fantasy, and mortality have on our intrinsic desire to reshape the natural world thus birthing the Anthropocene. Rooted in a long photographic tradition, his images, computer-generated landscapes, and installations move beyond photography landing in the field of abstraction, taking the viewer into a journey through the dichotomies of nature and culture, representation and experience, and ideology and aesthetics. Kessler’s contribution to current utopian and dystopian debates is at once intelligent, grave, comic and visually staggering.

Mathias Kessler received his MFA in Art Practice from the School of Visual Arts in2013. He has exhibited internationally, including solo exhibitions at the, Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria; Kirchner Museum, Davos, Switzerland; Kunsthal Rotterdam, the Netherlands; Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, Boulder, Colorado; Palmengarten Frankfurt, Germany; Site:Lab, Grand Rapids, Michigan; Rosphot National Museum for Photography, St. Petersburg, Russia; GL Holtegaard Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark; and Kunstraum Dornbirn, Austria, Paradise Now at MARCO | Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Monterrey.

Selected exhibitions include: Big Botany, Spencer Museum of Art, Lawrence, Kansas; Visions of Nature, Kunsthaus Vienna; The Sun Placed in the Abyss, Columbus Museum of Art; Social Glitch, Kunstraum Niederoestereich, Vienna; Spring Show 2016, Kunsthal Charlottenburg; Landscape in Motion, Kunsthaus Graz; (Un)Natural Limits, Austrian Cultural Forum New York, New York; Hohe Dosis, Fotohof, Salzburg; The Nature of Disappearance, Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York; Hoehenrausch, Offenes Kulturhaus, Linz; GO NYC, Kunsthalle Krems; and The Invention of Landscape; Museo, Palaxio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City. Selected residencies include: Cape Cod Modern House Trust, AIRE Everglades, Rise Projects London, Spencer Museum of Art.

© Michael Kessler


Rosbach vor der Höhe - an Area of Destructed Woodland

Every destruction entails a chance. Rosenbach vor der Hoehe is a forest near Frankfurt that stands as a symbol of the future. It embodies the effects of climate change. Where does art fit into such challenging conditions? Perhaps it provides a different perspective that generates new knowledge. For me, witnessing collapsed ecosystems is crucial, I'm fascinated by the possibilities they hold. That brings us back to Rosbach vor der Höhe; I developed a method to make natural processes visible and to examine natural processes collaboratively. This project invites people to experience a forest that's in the process of collapsing. What happens from decomposition to recomposition. It’s the process and not the finger-waving, that can ultimately incite a call to action.

Clemens Finkelstein

Clemens Finkelstein is a Ph.D. candidate at Princeton University, where his dissertation “Architectures of Vibration: Environmental Control, Seismic Technology, and the Frequency of Life” renders modern architecture’s complex relationship with the phenomenotechnique of vibration from destructive environmental toxin to structural epistemic tool. His work engages the built environment at the junction of Art and Architectural History with the History of Science and Technology and has been supported by, among others, the History of Science Society and the Princeton-Mellon Initiative in Architecture, Urbanism & the Humanities. He has worked extensively as an educator, editor, and curator—formerly serving as curator-at-large at the A+D Architecture and Design Museum in Los Angeles. His articles and reviews have appeared in several journals and edited volumes, including Iconology of Abstraction: The Language of Non-Figurative Images (Routledge, 2020). He is a Fulbright Scholar, received scholarships from Harvard University (2015-2017), and Princeton University’s Lowell M. Palmer Fellowship (2018-2019).

© Finkelstein-Moreno



Urelement - Vibration as Planetary Transmaterial

Coalescing material and immaterial states into one dynamic superposition, the physical phenomenon of vibration has catalyzed intellectual attraction as much as existential terror, echoing throughout global histories, industrial and indigenous epistemologies. Its cataclysmic effects in, e.g., earthquakes have linked vibration to events of apocalyptic devastation while likewise attributing it with creative properties that led investigators across disciplines to label it a primordial planetary element [Urelement]. Spanning the life and planetary sciences, the humanities, both cultural and scientific imaginaries, vibration has become a ubiquitous indicator of human-planetary entanglements. Whether geophysicists realizing its epistemological potential in deducing the interior structure of the Earth, artists valuing its transformative capacity in processing the overwhelming modern experience at the threshold of human perception, or quantum physicists breaking down reality into its frequencies, the twentieth century ushered in a moment in which the material and the immaterial fused to describe the world as composed of vibrations.

The fellowship project “Urelement:Vibration as Planetary Transmaterial” engages the planetary entanglements of vibration via architecture, which operates as agential media between the built and natural environment. Parsing modern architecture’s intricate alliance with the physical phenomenon and design technique, the project thoroughly examines vibration as a phenomenotechnique whose critical mechanisms analyzed natural vibratory phenomena or reproduced them artificially to obtain knowledge about materials and spatial bodies. Oscillating between bio- and geoprospecting, the project investigates historical conceptualizations of vibration as planetary transmaterial and links them with contemporary developments and debates that seek to recalibrate humanity’s essential relationships with its surroundings.

Claudia J. Ford

Claudia J. Ford  has enjoyed a global career in academia, international development and women’s health spanning four decades and all continents. Dr. Ford is a tenured professor and chair of the department of environmental studies at the State University of New York, Potsdam. She teaches ethnobotany, indigenous knowledge, gender studies, international business, environmental justice and environmental literature in classrooms and workshops. Dr. Ford is a visual artist and writer and serves on the boards of directors of organizations that are committed to ending poverty, racism and injustice in food systems along with transforming the practice of agriculture to renew the vitality of the earth, the integrity of our food, and the health and wholeness of our communities.

© Tracey Ellis


What Earth is Made of - Planetary Materials, Indigenous Knowledge, and the Gaia Hypothesis

Humans, animate and inanimate beings - we all have in common the DNA of a star. Conceiving of the planet as Gaia, a “self-regulating complex system” or super-organism, maps onto indigenous ecological thinking about human/planetary interactions and the cosmology that describes kincentric ecological relationships between humans and the planet. Enlarging our philosophical perspective of the Gaia hypothesis allows us to grapple with this idea that we are all of one origin, made of the same planetary substances yet exist as a species with supremely different modes of being, worldviews, and paradigms about how to be in sustainable relationship with this unitary planet and our common origins. What transpires at the intersection between environmental worldviews and Gaia principles, given the material similitude and the cultural diversity that drives human society? A deeper and fuller understanding of the Gaia hypothesis from an indigenous perspective should support important ontological shifts in the conception of planetary materials and these shifts become critical to enlarging our understanding of the planet as a cohesive system, especially as we try to create diverse but unified societal responses and social systems that can confront the challenges of planetary change and the climate crisis. Significantly, art making and storytelling honor the different paradigms of research, knowledge creation, and knowledge sharing that inform this project. The arts pay tribute to the methodologies underlying the indigenous knowledge of all peoples, making complex scientific and philosophical topics visible to make them more accessible.

Matthew C. Wilson

Matthew C. Wilson is an American artist based in the Netherlands. In his films/videos, sculptures, and installations viewers encounter a range of agents—mercurial materials, non-humans, intersubjective entities—entangled in natural processes and shape-shifting historical forces. His projects track the inertia of Modernity through contemporary ecological crises, into speculative futures.

Wilson received his MFA from Columbia University and participated in the Whitney Independent Study Program. His work has been shown on, at IFFR International Film Festival Rotterdam, Eye Filmmuseum, Círculo de Bellas Artes Madrid, Het Nieuwe Instituut - Rotterdam, Exhibition Research Lab - Liverpool, Brooklyn Rail Curatorial Projects, among others.

During the Planetary Materials residency Wilson will work in a manner that is methodologically eclectic: combining research and production methods which may range from field work, archival research, collaboration with scientists and other specialists, experimental filmmaking, and sculptural studio practice anchored in material specificity.

© Wilson



A constellation of planetary materials

Brains emerged from the Earth, through evolutionary processes driven in part by changing climate and shifting landscapes. How can we understand artificial intelligence as a parallel phenomena of anthropogenic planetary processes? Can counter hegemonic approaches to AI bend future ecological and climatological trajectories back in line with planetary limits?

Local production of synthetic environments can simulate conditions elsewhere in space, both on and off planet, and time, both forwards and backwards -- or even novel environments outside of the known universe. How do we understand such physical models in relation to abstract scenarios? How do we understand synthetic environments in an interscalar way? How is the emergence of such profoundly heterogeneous and discontinuous ecologies tied to colonial projects (Wardian cases, greenhouses, SpaceX/Musk’s plans for “glass domes” on Mars, etc)? What are the political implications of metabolising one environment to produce another?

There are numerous sites where traditional understandings of the relationship between life and agency, vis-à-vis living and nonliving systems, can be challenged. From DNA precursors discovered in meteorites to viruses, how can scientific knowledge come to bear on philosophical questions, particularly ontological questions?