Our biennial theme for 2019|20 “Naturgemälde” will explore the representation of natural phenomena in science and art through a varied line-up of events.
In 1807, Alexander von Humboldt made a drawing of the Chimborazo, which he had climbed five years earlier on his South American journey. Humboldt called his drawing “Naturgemälde der Anden”, which literally translates to “nature-painting of the Andes”. The picture shows a cross-section of the South American volcano, in which numerous plant species are shown in climatic layers according to their actual distribution. Humboldt also added results of further measurements on both sides of the drawing. Combining scientific precision with an aesthetically convincing form, the drawing was enthusiastically received by his contemporaries. Today, the “Naturgemälde der Anden” is regarded as the first infographic.
Inspired by this icon of the history of science, the biennial theme will explore the concept of “Naturgemälde”: How do different depictions of natural phenomena open up and restrict potential interpretations? What is our understanding of a “Naturgemälde” today? How does modeling function in the natural sciences today? How can climate change be visualized and thus made comprehensible? How might modern “nature-paintings” benefit from participatory forms of research such as “citizen science”? Which potential lies in computer simulations for the future development of "Naturgemälde"? What does “nature writing” mean in literature? And what would a “Naturgemälde” sound like in modern sound art?
We invite you to delve into this catalogue of questions with us at the upcoming lectures, conferences, readings, concerts and exhibitions.