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Other Fields: Aesthetic Inquiry into New Landscape
July 24-25, 2017
NYU Berlin at Kulturbrauerei

An interdisciplinary research symposium led by Gabriel Winer and Dana Karwas. Support for the symposium was provided by NYU Berlin, NYU Provost’s Office, NYU Center for Humanaties, and the Department of Technology, Culture and Society at NYU.

Two days of meetings at NYU Berlin brought together a group of artists, writers and scholars to re-examine landscape as a mode of inquiry in art.

As technology continues to develop, it expands our perception of spatial reality and thereby provides new subject matter for aesthetic questions. Yet how does the artist remain present when reality is experienced through data?

Through scientific attempts to further understand space and time, technological progress has enabled us to gather previously unavailable imagery at nearly any scale of time or distance—at extreme resolution, across various spectra, remotely, and passively. These methods of gathering, however, remove any context from the act of seeing. In fact, they are designed to avoid human influence. Consequently, there is a reduced point of view and too much distance, offering the viewer a scant connection to reality. In order to fully understand this new information, we turn to the embodied and individual perception of the artist.

Although artists have created images from scientific data, the context of the work is generally limited by the research that generated the underlying information. The perspective, or even the image itself, is created without the interaction of the artist.

In order to reclaim a context of plein air – a direct, personal experience of the physical world – the artist must have presence and agency in the process of sensing. This can be addressed by commandeering existing technology, developing independent sensor systems, or by deconstructing existing information to create open data models for the artist to explore.

Subjectivity is central to our understanding of the world, and has long been the blueprint for the next wave of understanding and progress. As inaccessible landscapes and hidden dimensions continue to become meaningful frontiers, it is essential to consider the role of art in the interpretive process.

Discussion and research was shared among the participants and was structured to inform the development of an online publication on the subject, formalize the outcomes of the encounter, and set the groundwork for wider dialogue and research on the role of art in environmental perception.


Gabriel Winer and Dana Karwas (Winer-Karwas) have worked as a collaborative since they met at the Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) at NYU Tisch School of the Arts in 2003. Winer and Karwas both teach in the Integrated Digital Media Program in the Department of Technology, Culture and Society at the Tandon School of Engineering at New York University.

Alex Zafiris is an art writer and edito who has served as the Senior Art Editor at Guernica magazine, Editor-in-Chief of Tokion magazine, Editorial Director at Mana Contemporary, and as an editorial consultant at Immaterial, the online platform of the Marina Abramovic Institute. She regularly contributes to BOMB magazine, T: The New York Times Style Magazine, and The Paris Review Daily.


Interviews and studio visits with artists included:

Fabio Barile
Felix Kiessling
Jeremy Shaw
Damian Taylor
Pedro Vaz
Sinta Werner

Roundtable Discussion

Monday July 24th 6:30 PM
NYU Berlin at KulturBrauerei
Schönhauser Allee 36 4th Floor, 10435 Berlin

Moderated by Sophia Gräfe in discussion with James Beacham, Hansun Hsiung, Geoff Lehman, Marianna Liosi, Fabio Barile, Damian Taylor, Dana Karwas, Gabriel Winer and Pedro Vaz

Sophia Gräfe
Sophia Gräfe studied Media Culture and Cultural History and Theory in Weimar and Berlin. During her time in Weimar she was a student assistant at the chair of Media History of the Sciences (M. Krajewski) and at the chair of History and Theory of Cultural Techniques (C. Vismann) amongst others.

Her research activities are rooted in image theory and include, inter alia, work on the history of scientific moving images, the productive interplay of Gestalt perception and calculation in the usage and creation of visual specimens in ethology, as well as the visual logic of surveillance images and its documents by the example of the former Ministry of State Security . In her master thesis on The speculative image she investigated surveillance films of the former GDR-Ministry for State Security (Stasi) with regard to their prefiguration of dissidence and the conflictual process of entering the estate archives of the secret service. A first article on this research project appeared in the 2016 issue Medien der Bürokratie [Media of Bureaucracy] of the journal Archiv für Mediengeschichte.

Since 2015 she is a research assistant at the Department of Cultural History and Theory (Teaching and Research Area Cultural Theory and Cultural History and Theory of Aesthetics, I. Därmann) at Humboldt University of Berlin. In her doctoral project Between Ethos and Programme – Theory scenes of a history of behavioural knowledge Gräfe examines the history of ideas of the knowledge of behavior.

James Beacham
As a member of the ATLAS collaboration at CERN's Large Hadron Collider (LHC), one of the teams that discovered the Higgs boson in 2012, James Beacham searches for evidence of new particles — dark matter, gravitons, dark photons, and exotic Higgs bosons among them. Beacham completed his Ph.D. degree at New York University in 2014 and is currently a postdoctoral researcher with the ATLAS experiment group of The Ohio State University, based in Geneva, Switzerland. His talk, “How we explore unanswered questions in physics”, was featured on TED.com, and he is a frequent speaker at technology and futurism conferences around the world. He is a regular guest on radio shows and podcasts, including NPR's "Science Friday," and has participated in documentaries on the BBC and the Discovery and the Smithsonian Channels, and talked particle physics with outlets like The New York Times, WIRED, and Gizmodo. Beacham trained as a filmmaker before becoming a physicist and is interested in the connections between exploratory high-energy particle physics and transgressive, improvisational film and music. In 2015, Beacham launched Ex/Noise/CERN, a project colliding particle physics with experimental music to celebrate the LHC’s switch on to 13 trillion electron volts.

Hansun Hsiung
Hansun Hsiung is a Postdoctoral Fellow in Department II of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science. Trained as a global intellectual historian, his dissertation reconstructed networks of scientific communication between Europe and East Asia from 1750-1900, highlighting the role of print piracy. Currently, he is at work on two projects: the first, which explores epistemic consequences of “compression” as revealed in the history of microfilm; the second, which traces the emergence of commercial image banks to the world of popular scientific print in the nineteenth century. His work has appeared in The Global Histories of Books, PMLA, and Public Books, and has been the recipient of Mellon and Fulbright grants. He received his PhD from Harvard in 2016, after studies at Yale and the University of Tokyo.

Geoff Lehman
Geoff Lehman did his doctoral work in art history at Columbia University, where he wrote a dissertation on the relationship between perspective and Renaissance landscape painting. Since 2006 he has been on the faculty of Bard College Berlin, a small liberal arts university, and has been teaching in its interdisciplinary humanities program.  His research interests include the theory and history of perspective, the phenomenology of art and of viewer response, and landscape painting in Europe. Geoff has just completed a book, in collaboration with Bard College Berlin colleague Michael Weinman, on the Parthenon in relation to ancient Greek mathematics and to Plato’s dialogues, to be published by SUNY Press in March 2018. He also has published on Bruegel’s Via Crucis and has a forthcoming article on Leonardo da Vinci’s landscapes in relation to Jan Van Eyck.

Marianna Liosi
Marianna Liosi  is an independent curator and researcher based in Berlin. She graduated in Visual Arts at IUAV, Venice and she’s currently a PhD candidate in Humanities, University of Ferrara (Italy). She is interested in the aesthetics of social, economic and political dynamics, with specific attention to media, technology and the question of spectatorship and its generative role. In her PhD research, she explores the persistence, legacy and potentiality of YouTube as a digital visual archive of the uprising in the Arab speaking countries, with a specific focus on Tunisia, as well as the changing value over the time of videos shot and shared by anonymous citizens during the uprising in 2011 and the impact produced by this visual material on the onlookers.

She was Guest lecturer at Kunstakademie Düsseldorf (2016/17) and she gave talks at Künstlerhaus Bethanien (Berlin), Fondation Maison des sciences de l’homme (Paris), University of Geneva, Festival für Fotografie (Leipzig), HKW (Berlin). She has curated exhibitions, film programmes, and workshops, among the most recent: Between Broadcast, in collaboration with Between Bridges, Berlin, 2016; Regarding Spectatorship: Revolt and the Distant Observer, Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien, Berlin, 2015; Leisure Complex, Savvy Contemporary, Berlin, 2014, When spectators work, workers observe, Kunsthuis SYB, Beetsterzwaag, The Netherlands, 2014. In 2015 she was curator in residency at Delfina Foundation, London within The Public Domain – Season 2. She occasionally contributes as writer to opendemocracy.net

Damian Taylor
He is interested in the oddities that emerge in artworks through embodied processes, specifically in relation to the influence of the technological reproduction of images from the Renaissance to the present. His current research considers how artists are developing new relationships between virtual environments and traditional technologies, and combines practical and theoretical research to augment growing scholarly interest in art as an embodied form of thought. Grounded in a long-standing fascination with specific qualities of light, memory, and the human structuring of time, Damian’s artistic practice explores the space between a singular object and its representation, between one exhibition of a work and its subsequent presentation, and between simultaneous presentations of materially approximate or identical works. Although never straying entirely from roots in painting, these preoccupations are often pursued through casting, early photographic processes, books and digital video installations.

Damian studied fine art at Chelsea College of Art (BA) and the Slade (MA), and holds a practice-led doctorate from the Ruskin. His doctoral dissertation, ‘Busy Working With Materials’: Transposing Form, Re-exposing Medardo Rosso analysed the creative conflict between the rhetoric and the reality of the early twentieth-century sculptor’s practice and offered the first comprehensive account of technological image reproduction in relation to Rosso, both in terms of how he used emerging technologies to disseminate images of his sculptures and how these technologies in turn affected his approach to sculpture. Damian has devoted considerable time to researching temporality in John Constable’s paintings, specifically in light of his generation’s obsession with nature and the early history of photography, research that was greatly aided by a period as a visiting scholar at Yale. He exhibits internationally, with recent solo shows at Museum Beelden aan Zee (NL) and Hidde van Seggelen Gallery (UK).


NYU Berlin
NYU Tandon School of Engineering, Department of Technology, Culture, and Society, Integrated Digital Media Program
NYU Provost's Global Research Initiatives