Photochemical Alchemy in Sub-Arctic Finland

Sam NightingalePublishing

I recently published an article in CAA Art Journal Open that entangles augury, alchemy and experimental photochemical processes using plant energy.

Among all the arts, it is the art of alchemy which most closely imitates nature.
—Albertus Magnus (teacher of St. Thomas Aquinas), ca. 1250

I found myself on the banks of Lake Kilpisjärvi in sub-Arctic Finland last autumn. I was there with a group of other artists, media researchers and biohackers for the Bioart Society’s Field_Notes conference. Our agenda was to explore the ancient art of augury (divination), examining how we might divine or sense signs from the organic and inorganic worlds that we are a part of but that also operate beyond rational human knowledge. We approached this from the perspective that sense and sensing are forms of divination foretelling the actions we should take as we go about life. Each day we set ourselves the task of finding tools for divination in the ecology, places, and materials around Kilpisjärvi. With experience in photographic alchemy, I proposed we devise a practice that used the inherent photochemical abilities of plants to produce images, thereby combining natural elements, such as salt and botanical matter in photographic processes. This approach to augury and divination offers a path into the unknown energies and forces contained in the ecology around Kilpisjärvi, and draws on the primal poetics of matter.

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Also see the project: Para-photo-many

Field_Notes: Ecology of Senses

Sam NightingaleEvents, Projects

Image by Till Bovermann

I have been invited to Field_Notes: Ecology of Senses, an art & science field laboratory organised by the Bioart Society at the Kilpisjärvi Biological Station in sub-arctic Lapland/Finland, during September 2018.

Five different groups will approach the Ecology of Senses theme from different angles. We will organise ourselves in work groups, teams, think tanks, and workshops, and carry out work from our related fields.

I will be participating in the group ‘Augury: Machines which look at birds’, hosted by Martin Howse, and working along side Vanessa Lorenzo, Saara Hannula, Jukka Hautamäki, Lisa Swanstrom, Ana Oosting.
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Field Trip: [Im]material Nuclear Landscapes

Sam NightingaleEvents

image of Dounreay nuclear power station

Excited to be leading the field trip [Im]material Nuclear Landscapes for TimeSpan, and speaking about my research at their two-day conference Practicing Deep Time. 

The field trip is part of the Practicing Deep Time conference taking place at Timespan and in the surrounding environments of East Sutherland and Caithness on 23 + 24 March 2018. For more details and information on how to book please visit the Practicing Deep Time page.

In this field trip led by artist Sam Nightingale, we travel to Caithness – the furthest reaches of mainland Scotland – to ask how we might imagine deep time through the material and immaterial nuclear landscape? That is, through a deep time that stretches into the future as much as it finds its inheritance in the far reaches of the past. We will explore the ‘[Im]material Nuclear Landscape’; through a range of discursive activities that put into tension the concrete infrastructure that supports nuclear energy projects (and their decommissioning) and the seemingly invisible radiological traces that remain deep into the future. Read More

Exhibition: Salon 17: New Approaches in Photography

Sam NightingaleExhibition

A Crystalline World (2017) & Big Salt (NaCI) (2017)
Four Corners Gallery, London
17 – 28 October 2017

A Crystalline World (2017) is a series of photographic salt prints made using salt collected from a disused salt mine in the Mallee, a semi-arid region of Victoria, Australia. The images show the creases of time that have been etched into the abandoned salt stacks left over from when salt was harvested from a nearby salt lake. The work engages with the “deep-time” of the Mallee, a region that was transformed from an ancient inland sea to a semi-arid terrain over a period of thousands of years, by chemically enfolding elements from the environment into the image-making process of the salt print. This process therefore maps the shifting ecologies of the site through its own materials, the salt being both the subject and the material means through which the image is printed (and becomes visible). Displayed alongside is Big Salt (NaCI) (2017): two c-type prints that reproduce the sculptural forms of the salt that Nightingale used to make the salt prints.Read More