Carl Størmer’s Northern Lights at the 14th Istanbul Biennial

September 2, 2015 - 12:56 -- masande

Thale Elisabeth Sørlie and Arne Langleite from The Norwegian Museum of Science and Technology presents Carl Størmer in the 14th Istanbul Biennial titled 'SALTWATER: A Theory of Thought Forms'

According to Sørlie and Langleite, the presentation is the result of 'a rigorous artistic and historical research into the photographs of aurora borealis recorded by Carl Størmer. In photographing the northern lights for the first time, Størmer not only captured a natural phenomenon that had thus far not been seen in photographs, but he also acted as a creator of the same. His observations made manifest a fleeting phenomena and guided us towards understanding instead of believing'. They go on to explain that 'we aim at re-experiencing the singular gaze of a man who not only looks at the skies, but who also had a strong visual appetite for people, and a technical creativity that helped him develop the necessary equipment to capture what he needed to see. Our aim is to understand the photographic experience of the year 1910. Whereas the people of today are jaded, very experienced viewers of images of any kind, depicting almost anything imaginable (and many things beyond the limits of most people's imagination), the visual competence of the audience in 1910 was very different, and much more limited.

Fredrik Carl Mülertz Størmer (1874–1957) was a Norwegian mathematician whose main preoccupation was the aurora borealis. The lights unfolding in the sky were still a mystery at the beginning of the 20th century, before Størmer managed to make them manifest and comprehensible. As an amateur photographer, he developed a method for photographing the lights that made it possible to calculate their altitude. As a mathematician, he developed formulae and made numerous calculations on the theoretically possible orbits of charged particles entering the earth's atmosphere and checked these against calculations of orbits based on data from his photographic material.

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