Squirrel's Nest - Oravan Pesä - Podcast Episode 1

Squirrel’s Nest EPISODE 1: Who Sees What?

Editor and mediator: Maria Villa Largacha

With the occasion of the screening of The Optics of Space at Heureka this fall, we start off with a conversation on the crosspollination between art and science. The film projection was developed for a planetarium by curator Aily Nash with works by artists Lucy Raven, and James N. Kienitz Wilkins, and commissioned by the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York’s and PUBLICS, Helsinki. Gathering perspectives from the art field and Aalto’s space science, we to tap into the cinematic experience, the educational and research potential of visual information, and the ways in which art appropriates technological tools to convey different meanings.

The Optics of Space is a video installation that intersects the technological arena of space visualizations, and the question of the spectatorship within its systems of meaning and scientific visual narratives. In order to grasp what the piece is all about and how art entered a dialogue with science in these projects, we invited Aalto professor of astronomy Dr. Joni Tammi, director of the Metsähovi Observatory, who is highly invested in critical and lateral thinking and interdisciplinarity supported by space technology. We also talked with curator Marina Valle Noronha, PhD researcher in Aalto School of Arts about the curatorial project. Though the two conversations we aimed to bring forward the stakes and merits of these films by putting them in direct connection with scientific perspectives on space observation, the dissemination of astronomical knowledge, and the role of art in shaping human vision of the universe.


Dr. Joni Tammi, Director of the Metsähovi Radio Observatory Aalto University

Marina Valle Noronha, PhD candidate Aalto School of Arts, Design and Architecture

Who Sees What?

01:55 Humans as temporary occupants of the universe.

06:55 From scientific research to teaching transdisciplinary thinking.

10:45 Astronomy and the big picture: studying the invisible. The limits of human perception and instruments.

17:20 The apparatus of vision: films bridging the gap between the planetarium and the observatory. The mind of the astronomer.

20:00 Is science telling us the truth about the universe? Narrative and interpretive aspects of science.

28:10 Heureka screening: visualizing technology and mathematics of space exploration at work.

31:00 Expectations of the audience, the raw data and the beauty of science.

35:00 When non-scientists use astronomical data. And what does art have to do with looking at knowledge critically?

38:00 Art playing with a technical errors as metaphors. The quest for truth, coping with the unknown.

40:20 Specks in the universe: existential anxiety when studying science. Gaining perspective: the encouraging side of finitude.

47:50 Contemporary art’s strategies to point at difficult issues, opening room for interpretation.

Curator Marina Valle Noronha

52:10 Different ways of seeing, using, and occupying space in the experience of art.

55:00 How is “The Optics of Space” addressing science content and imagery?

56:50 Artificial light conditions and the aesthetic experience. Expectations of the audience and visual consumption.

1:00:30 Art environments and sound: abducting the spectator from reality? The quest of science, the human quest for knowledge.

1:03:00 Art and/or entertainment? Immersive environments, engaging different senses, and narratives.

1:08:50 Curators taking risks and opening possibilities.

1:12:00 Uncertainty and the invisible —in art, science, and everyday experience.