Tuula Närhinen

Academy of Fine Arts, the University of the Arts, Helsinki

Curating Phenomena. An Eyewitness Perspective of Artistic Agency in Nature

Tuula Närhinen’s doctoral research is built around an artistic practice that explores tracings and (photo)graphic recordings created by waves, rain and seawater. Re-adapting instruments derived from natural science, she constructs visual interfaces that enable us to move beyond the explicit and to grasp the unfurling of a world invisible to the naked eye.

Närhinen’s project considers the inherent visual potential in naturally occurring events. The thesis includes four exhibitions on the theme of water: Clapotis (2009), Seawatercolours (2012), Touch of Rain (2013) and Baltic Sea Plastique (2014). The artworks show the making of the pictorial representations. The works emerge from interactions with water and result in gallery installations that, alongside the yielded graphs and artefacts, showcase the methods of inscribing and the devices implemented. The poetics of the practice arise from the corporeal enactment and the exposition of the medial translation. The installations exhibit situations in which she posit the spectator as an eyewitness to the spatial, material and sensory translation of an event. The viewer of her works is encouraged to participate in the (re)presentation of the phenomena.

Informed by the disciplines of science studies, natural history and philosophy Närhinen’s research compares and draws parallels between the instrumental practices of natural science and visual art, with an emphasis on optical technologies. The thesis focuses on pragmatic analogies between the scientific and artistic ways of knowing in order to explicate and contextualise methods of aesthetic meaning-making and to provide for a critical approach to the study of the phenomenal world.