“The drawings in Kunstformen Der Natur express Haeckel’s fascination and devotion to the study of nature. Haeckel himself described his fascination for the world he was investigating, mostly referring to his main discovery, the Radiolarius [x], a single cell organism discovered in the depth of the ocean.
“It’s hard to believe that these creatures are single cells, some are like grids, broken nets or stems, others like tiny balls, helmets or bells when others appear to us like tender houses, windmills, fantastic towers.”
These words reflect on how much the artistic impulse of Haeckel seemed to have taken over his wish to be perfectly accurate and neutral as a scientist. His drawings are projections of real observations but they are as much projections of the inner interpretation of the artist’s vision of reality. Kunstformen der Natur was a way for him to unite these two projections in a single work. He by doing so “began to see not only the outer forms but also the inner content, the nature and the history of things”. He’s been trying to see nature as a “single unfolded work of art” by trying to understand the sequences allowing the Radiolarius to be present in such a multitude of forms. By doing so he achieved an astonishing body of work that can be seen as a suspended moment in time, a witness of this wish to leave space enough for observations and fantasy in a single picture. Following Goethe’s attempt to present nature in its diversity and trying to find unity in it at the same time, Ernst Haeckel created hybrid specimens that reflected on his subjective way to create the marvelous and the poetic in order to try to decode the genesis and the evolutionary systems of nature. That lead him to coin the word “ecology” itself.”
Excerpt from “The Curious, the Marvelous and the Particular”
(thesis by Rudy Guedj can be downloaded as pdf at the end of the article)
By exploring the potentialities of ecological worldviews, old and new, through theory and art, WHERE ARE WE GOING, WALT WHITMAN? seeked, to accelerate, accumulate, animate and activate our poetical and political understanding of the world. (Introduction of the Studium Generale 2012-2013 “Where are we going, Walt Whitman? An ecosophical roadmap for artists and other futurists”)
The visual campaign for the Studium Generale — designed in collaboration with Sophie Rogg, Olya Troitskaya and Martin Huger –all graduates from the Graphic Design department in 2013— revealed itself progressively. It was trying to both map knowledge acquired during the past lectures, and project on a fictional level thanks to a visual pollution which was growing exponentially on all the mediums we used.
The first layer of the campaign, the map, was created before the Conference-Festival as a simple topology arranging references into a single spacial representation. Day after day, the basic map, as all the different supports we used to communicate with, was taken over by a visual infection.
The creation of each of the collages has been realized as a reaction to the existing publication Kunstformen der Natur (Ernst Haeckel, 1899-1904). These bold interventions on top of the existing drawings shaped a fictional journey throughout the campaign and provided endless interpretations of the very broad topic of ecology today.
“A welcome pendant to the overload of terms and theory is the online Ecosophical Roadmap: an ongoing encyclopedic exercise accumulating (visual) footage that inspired the speakers. (Ecosophical Roadmap) I dare say this experiment is the only contribution to the Studium Generale that practices what it preaches: it actually embodies our way of interacting with the material world, mediated through technology and immaterial digits.”
From : Metropolis M (online reviews)
The online roadmap was a way for us to respond to the immediate and ephemeral format of the lecture by gathering notes and other references mentioned during the discussions. It functions today as a remaining archive, an attempt to visualize the many connections that were progressively built up and to emphasize on the important role that plays serendipity in our daily use of technological medias.
text by Rudy Guedj [graduate student department of Graphic Design]