|Imagine what a Natural History Museum in the distant future might look like. It is likely that this museum would describe an evolution of the world that is presently so greatly influenced by man. It might portray the effects of climate change on all life on this planet as our transformation of nature works as a time lapse-based process.|
Time Lapse – Olga Bergmann
Imagine what a Natural History Museum in the distant future might look like. It is likely that this museum would describe an evolution of the world that is presently so greatly influenced by man. It might portray the effects of climate change on all life on this planet as our transformation of nature works as a time lapse-based process.
This is similar to how time lapses are used in nature documentaries where this effect is very often utilized in order to dramatize and speed up processes that would normally appear subtle to the human eye—where events are boiled down to a few seconds that, in reality, take days or weeks.
We have already, and for quite some time, used various methods to alter the characteristics of species in order to very quickly breed specific traits in animals or to increase productivity. This is, at the present, most common in crops and domesticated animals that we breed or genetically manipulate in order to meet with the demands of the market and biotech industries. Recent biotechnological experiments have already produced very peculiar results, and even stranger things are, undoubtedly, to come.
Genetic engineering and its possibilities are an endless source of ideas for me, and I have been making works that derive from ideas about how these technologies may affect natural evolutionary processes of the future for a good while now. My approach in this is close to the surreal and also based on a free association of facts and scientific possibilities that already exist. For a lot of this work, I have used an alter ego, a scientist called Doctor Bergmann.
The Doctor, through her laboratory research field studies and other related work, is partly inspired by the more surrealistic possibilities of genetic engineering and cloning—in other words, the possibility of the fairy tale turning into reality, and vice versa. This work also originates from an interest in nature and science documentaries. As a phenomenon, the Wunderkammer (cabinet of curiosities) particularly interests me, and especially with regard to how institutions like museums of natural history and zoos display their collections.
The 17th century Wunderkammer, or cabinets of curiosities, was a collection of objects that are now regarded as quite separate phenomena, but whose boundaries were not yet defined during the Renaissance. These collections were precursors to museums.
These cabinets or rooms included specimens belonging to natural history (sometimes faked), geology, ethnography, archaeology, or else they were works of art, antiquities and relics.
What I find fascinating about these collections is how the objects were displayed in an order based on the collector’s personal interests, understandings, belief systems or whims. I also like the fact that the authenticity of many of these artifacts was uncertain at best. This mixture of fact and fiction is something that, in any context, is a very interesting approach toward trying to come to terms with the order of things in the universe. I have currently been looking into the Museum of Jurassic Technology in Los Angeles for inspiration because it is, among other things, a magnificent contemporary cabinet of curiosities, and also a reminder of how truth often is much stranger than fiction.
Ideas that relate to the before-mentioned issues often result in works that perhaps take on a certain aura of nostalgia and retro-futurism. In my videos, I have used real footage from nature documentaries, mixed with forged footage, old-fashioned stop-motion animation, time lapses and super 8 film in trying to create the illusion of authenticity. I also like to use images from old natural science publications and educational illustrations in my collages and drawings. In my sculptural works, I like to use old laboratory equipment and other found objects in trying to create a seemingly familiar looking glass through which to envision the future.