"More than ever natural history museums have to strengthen their resolve to inspire and to encourage people to see themselves as part of nature. Art appears to me to be often inspired by nature. In our evolutionary history we have involved in relation to nature and all of our senses have been honed 'in nature'. Being in nature and exhibiting nature appeals to both, artists and people who don't identify themselves (yet) as artists. This however opens the possibility to work with nature-inspired emotions and hopefully encourage people to seek a different relationship to nature – not only emotionally, but also in their daily behavior." – Johannes Vogel, Director General of the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin
Berl-Berl at Halle am Berghain
LIGHT ART SPACE (LAS) is pleased to announce an exhibition by Jakob Kudsk Steensen at Halle am Berghain, Berlin, from 10 July – 26 September 2021. Berl-Berl will be the artist's first major exhibition in Europe and will transform the legendary venue with a vast digital installation of lost and existing natural worlds. The immersive installation leads to Berlin's origins as a swamp formed by a glacial valley over 10,000 years old. 'Berl', the Sorbian word for swamp, is thought to be the origin of the word 'Berlin' and gives the exhibition its name.
Working at the vanguard of art and technology, Kudsk Steensen is known for creating innovative projects which combine extensive field research with the latest in digital technologies; the artist builds all of his work within the gaming engine, unreal.
Visitors will experience a journey through a virtual wetland that will cover Berghain's 1,435-square-metre space and present a combination of Berlin's current marshes, extinct species and ancient swamp mythologies. The exhibition will also include an online virtual experience, hosted on the LAS website.
Partnership with the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin
To create the work, Kudsk Steensen documented local wetlands using macro photogrammetry, which allowed him to 3D scan flora in ultra-detail and present visitors with new perspectives that would otherwise be invisible to the naked eye. The artist has partnered with the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin to use their collection with extinct species and animal sounds, and bring them back to life within the installation.
By combining his recordings from the wetlands with research on extinct animal species, the artist will build a bridge between us and the history beneath our feet, transforming the Halle am Berghain into a portal in which relics of the Ice Age connect to present-day wetlands.
As well as being digitally and technologically innovative, the project is rooted in the most up-to-the-minute scientific research on wetlands. Working in collaboration with scientists at the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, Kudsk Steensen has conducted extensive fieldwork in wetlands close to the city. A site-specific soundscape is also being produced for the installation, in collaboration with musician Arca. It will combine samples of Arca's voice with archival records of wetland sounds, also from the Sound Archive of the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin and spoken examples of the numerous different words for 'Berlin' over the centuries.
In the Experimental Field for Participation and Open Science of the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, a short film about the creation of the work of art will be shown until 26 September 2021, together with a selection of objects from the scientific collection that inspired Berl-Berl and were artistically integrated in the immersive installation in the Halle am Berghain.
WissensFluss: The Berlin Panke river
In relation to the exhibition the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin starts with the Citizen Science project WissensFluss: The Berlin Panke.
"For me it is extremely exciting and inspiring to learn from artists how human emotions can be aroused and how we can engender dialogue. It is fantastic to see how Jakob has a different approach to a museum object than we as natural scientists have – how we can engage through textures, sounds or virtual access. I admire his passion, the creativity and poise. I am very impressed how he creates 'virtual life'", so Johannes Vogel.
Berl Berl is commissioned by LAS and is curated by guest curator Emma Enderby.
LAS is a Berlin-based art foundation, working at the intersection of art, new technology and science. Championing new exhibition formats and experimental projects, LAS is committed to commissioning and presenting engaging experiences that are relevant to our local and international communities. Light is a leitmotif for the programme that fosters a future-led approach challenging our perception of the present and stimulating future imaginaries.