Katja Novitskova: EARTH POTENTIAL
Katja Novitskova: EARTH POTENTIAL
Sometimes an exhibit just captures your imagination and makes you think and ponder the universe. The fact that it is right outside of New York City Hall in one of the few public park spaces in a sea of concrete makes it even a little more special.
EARTH POTENTIAL is an exhibition of new works by artist Katja Novitskova (b. 1984 Tallinn, Estonia; works in Amsterdam and Berlin) that explores the relationships among science, technology, fiction, and our image-based culture.
Scattered throughout City Hall Park are seven large aluminum sculptures featuring online-sourced, digitally-printed images of the Earth, celestial objects, and enlarged, seemingly alien but terrestrial organisms. Sourced by the artist from the Internet, these striking images were originally created through advanced imaging techniques like a microscope that can magnify an organism by 10,000 times or a satellite orbiting the Earth. These new sculptures explore worlds unseen by the naked eye by employing photography, scale, and juxtaposition to transform the park into a seemingly Sci-Fi landscape.
“From the micro to the macro, Novitskova brings to life a world that was once invisible but now, due to advances in satellite cameras and electronic microscopes, can be pictured in great detail,” says Public Art Fund Adjunct Curator Emma Enderby. “These images are also of living forms that are used in the scientific community to synthetically change the future of our planet. With this, Novitskova invites the viewer to reflect on the ways in which we see our world and how we perceive the potential of the Earth.”
By transforming the online image from the rectangular format of a digital screen and displaying it as a sculpture in physical space, Novitskova expands the idea of what photography and images can be today. While three-dimensional, the flatness of the works replicates the experience of viewing images online, furthering the pointed confusion between image and imagination. “Novitskova’s work responds to our current, overwhelming photo-based culture, one that is created by the rapid circulation of images, their manipulation, and the advancements in image-technology,” says Enderby. “Her sculptures not only invite audiences to consider the ways in which the seemingly dichotomous realms of the real and the virtual intersect, but how the role of photography has changed today.” Lit up dramatically at night, the space will be re-imagined as an extraterrestrial landscape, referencing Hollywood’s use of New York City as a site for Sci-Fi movies.
Novitskova is part of a growing network of artists whose primary concern is the impact of digital culture on society. In 2010, Novitskova edited and published Post Internet Survival Guide 2010. This book, which includes artworks, interviews, and writings by nearly 100 of her contemporaries, has become a central touchstone for artists, critics, and curators working in the digital landscape. EARTH POTENTIAL will coincide with Novitskova’s selection to represent Estonia at the Venice Bienniale in 2017.
The artist selected and combined these images — which range from Venus and Saturn’s moon to the common earthworm and Hydra — to question the dichotomies of reality and fiction. While appearing otherworldly and futuristic in their presentation, these organisms and bodies have significant research value within the scientific community for their potential to advance our understanding of our species and world. For example, the tiny freshwater Hydra is studied for its regenerative abilities, while the manipulated image of the cloudless Earth is used to monitor the continued growth of cities around the world.
Through both scientific and poetic lenses, Novitskova invites us to reflect on the ways in which we see—and comprehend—the potential of the Earth.