Photobook Review: Using Science to Reveal the Circularity of Nature
Through scientific knowledge and institutional collaboration, artist Andrea Galvani transcends the visible and expands our range of perception.
© Andrea Galvani. Monograph, pages 36-37. (left) Epílogo #68 and #74 (Study on Aviation Controls), 2015; (right) Detail of Llevando una pepita de oro a la velocidad del sonido #7, 2015.
With its anachronistic illustrations on the cover, the monograph by Italian artist Andrea Galvani, looks like an old science book – an indirect evocation of his recent piece, “Column on varieties of oblivion”, which features a high pile of original science books whose theories have been seceded by new hypotheses. Diving into Galvani’s book, it remains clear that this is a hybrid object, made of visual mathematics and poetry.
“No conceptual system is capable of containing the great and disarming beauty of nature”, writes Giorgio Verzotti in introduction. Yet, transcending this limitation has driven Galvani’s work since the beginning. Through scientific research and collaborations, he investigates imperceptible occurrences in nature and attempts to visualise them – “the artist adopts specific techniques and methodologies that he uses as tools to approach and investigate physical phenomena, ephemeral and unstable by nature”, Verzotti summarises in the book's opening text.
© Andrea Galvani. Still from The End [Action #1], 2013-2015.
Among other apparatus aimed at using technology to interact with natural processes, Galvani has flown at hypersonic speed opposite the rotation of Earth during the sunset to video-capture a seemingly not-setting sun. He also recorded the sound of a collapsing iceberg before replaying it at a volume that provoked the exhibition space to vibrate – a volume capable of generating another collapse. With it, he illustrates the circularity of nature, and the way the environment responds to itself, beyond human scale, over thousands of years and movements.
All the efforts and knowledge involved into the making of each piece appears in the book, laying bare of the entire process. Schemes, equations, sketches of the apparatus and the engineering involved accompany the documentation of his artworks. As if given access into the artist’s mind, the reader grasps how research informs parallel explorations into a similar phenomenon, each direction leading to the possibility of a piece.
© Andrea Galvani. Higgs Ocean #12, 2010.
The review of so many technologies aimed at defeating nature brings to mind current proposals to counter the dramatic development of climate change – proposals often hard to imagine given how remote to nature they are. “The way in which nature is changing is an essential feature of Andrea’s concerns”, his studio manager, Maya Simone, told me. How can we negotiate these transformations and how can we respond as a species to the world as it changes? The question underlines Galvani’s entire work. Looking at his striking photographs and videos, we’re invited to contemplate and analyse the alterations inflicted to the planet, and the place of mankind within that. Because often, while transcending nature, he also has to accept its ineluctability.
Andrea Galvani Monograph
Published by Mousse Publishing in 2018
Texts by Giorgio Verzotti, Anna Daneri, Andrea Galvani
Interviews and Conversations with Andrea Bruciati, Rebecca Rose Cuomo, Tim Hyde, Saul Melman, Alice Miceli, Isabella Paghera, Luca Panaro, Colin Snapp, François T, and Niels Van Tomme
Hardcover with box // 448 pages // 22 × 28 cm // $55
Andrea Galvani is a Italian artist who lives and works in New York and Mexico City. He adopts a cross-disciplinary approach that often draws upon scientific methodology. Follow him on Instagram.
Laurence Cornet is a writer and curator based in Brooklyn focusing on cultural and environmental issues.