The Telefónica Foundation Space presents “Jennifer Steinkamp. Digital Nature” with five video installations from the American artist, a pioneer in the use of digital animation, a technique she started to incorporate into her work in the late 80s. The exhibition is a selection of her work that recreates an artificial 3D universe of fields filled with flowers and trees swaying in the wind. The exhibition can be seen on the 3rd floor of the Space from 23 February to 22 April.
Jennifer Steinkamp (Denver, USA, 1958), internationally renowned for her artwork using video and new technologies, has dedicated her work over the past three decades to exploring topics related to perception, movement and space.
Steinkamp seeks to alter the spectator’s perceptions by dematerializing architecture and generating spaces loaded with significance by means of digital animations inspired by the shapes of nature, thus generating immersive environments where the viewers are faced with intense sensory experiences
Inspiration from vegetation
Since the beginning of her career in the 90s, Steinkamp has alternated abstract and geometric compositions with images whose elements allude to nature, vegetation and landscape. However, it wasn’t until 2002 with Jimmy Carter when her work took a new turn and she began to focus almost solely on plant imagery. Since then she began developing her renowned compositions of trees and flowers, often more of a figurative and realistic nature, of which there will be various examples in the exhibition.
The 5 video installations on display include ‘Marie Curie’ (2011), a tribute to the prestigious scientist who received two Nobel Prizes for her pioneering research in the field of radioactivity, and who also happened to be a lover of botany. In this piece, Steinkamp renders more than forty types of flowers and pays tribute to Curie while at the same time having us reflect on the effects that atomic energy and explosions have on nature itself.
One of her better known pieces will also be featured at the exhibition, ‘Dervish’ (2004), a piece inspired by the hypnotic dancing of the Islamic Mevlevi Order, whose movement she creates using tree branches. The movement of these digital trees speaks of the power that nature exerts over human beings and how contemplating this can, occasionally, provoke the exaltation of the senses related to the freeing of the soul and a communion with the divine.
Public art and collaborations
In 1989, Steinkamp made her first installation in Los Angeles, where she lives and works. Titled ‘Gender Specific’, she conceived this piece by projecting her characteristic digital animations onto buildings, which produced surprising effects on the architecture.
Since then, she has made countless projections and public installations. In 2016, she was invited to show her piece ‘Botanic’ in Times Square , a constellation of plants that float in space, blooming and bumping into each other and breaking apart into seeds, leaves and petals, played on an infinite loop.
Her most recent piece ‘Winter Fountains’ (2017) is an installation created for the anniversary celebrations of Benjamin Franklin Park, the cultural heart of Philadelphia, where many of the city’s great museums are found. Inspired by Franklin’s research on electricity, she created a series of images that evoke such discoveries as the electric nature of lightning, or the existence of electric fluid between oppositely charged poles.
In addition, many of Steinkamp’s pieces are designed as installations with sound, in which she collaborates with various musicians. Steinkamp’s animations have also been used by U2 on stage for two of their world tours, Popmart (1997) and Elevation (2001).
Her work has previously been displayed in Spain at MUSAC, the CAC in Malaga and the Soledad Lorenzo Gallery.
Workshop programme and parallel activities
The ‘Jennifer Steinkamp. Digital Nature” exhibition is accompanied by a series of workshops organised by our educational team. There are workshops for all ages and registration is free of charge. These range from the “VIDEOpoética” workshop, an approach to video art in relation to other languages, such as poetry, to a workshop on “Emotional Botany” for creating a family portrait, or even “a Forest of Screens”, about film-making. To see all the available workshops and registrations, check here.
In addition, at 7:30 pm on 22 February in our auditorium, the exhibition’s opening event will be held with an introductory talk by the artist herself.