The way we understand the objects, ourselves, the world and the Universe today, is not evident tomorrow. The objects, ourselves, the world and the Universe have already changed from one second to the next. To make cultural and political changes we therefore insistently need to rethink and reinvent the concept of Nature. Not only nature in the sense of plants, animals, rocks and minerals, but a nature that doesn´t make decisive distinctions between the organic and what we define as artificial.

 

We tend to think of ourselves as objective observers of Nature, but we are not omniscient. In fact, we are not even accurate in seeing the things right in front of us. In Western culture, the light has for centuries been associated with the truth. What we can perceive by vision is what we naïvely believe exists and what we, through our language, can agree with.

 

But the eye is the organ of distance and separation. In the dark, we do not experience the sharpness of light and the space between ourselves and the objects. In the dark, we do not have a common language, but we are forced to use our individual imagination. The light space is a public space dominated by common conceptions, whereas darkness opens up to new.

 

By examining found objects, arbitrary situations and coincidences, I consider myself as an alien observer, who knows nothing about the phenomena or their entangled co-relations and interactions. Because, in the end, what do we actually know about the world around us? Inside the building blocks of everything, exists an empty space, which is not entirely empty, but nothing is in there either. Virtual particles are constantly on the edge of existing, constantly in the process of becoming. At the atomic level exists an entirely different set of rules, than those, we experience in our everyday life. Particles are both particles and waves, and even if separated by thousands of miles, they can still be interconnected.

 

When approaching an understanding of reality, the so-called truth of the world we live in, we have faith in natural science, since the theories are based on scientific experiments. But when asking questions about the things we cannot measure or explain in commonly used terms, the natural scientists keep silent.  Is that the reason why we have not yet reached the third Grand Unifying Theory? Because there is a reluctance to acknowledge the things we rationally do not understand? The most fundamental scientific realization is the claim that nature can be subject to a theory of knowledge, based on observations and rational thinking. But maybe this is actually what creates the limit of science.

 

There is a myth, that one day we will be able to explain the entire structure of the universe:

A Theory of Everything.

 

But if we are supposed to reach an adequate understanding of our Universe and to actually cover everything, we need to cover imagination, intuition, sensations and fiction as well. And we need to be aware that these observations are only temporary notions - already outdated at the moment we define them.  

 

We tend to forget that the human being, too, is a part of Nature - equally with anything else. We tend to forget that our reality today, also, is in transformation and affected by evolutionary processes. We have not yet implemented the idea that technology has derived from nature. That our smartphone, our computer, artificial intelligence etc. perhaps, are not so artificial as we like to define them.

 

So how can I, as an artist with no background in natural science, contribute to a theory of everything? I am still looking for the answer to this question. An answer that probably does not exist. But I consider the most prominent nature of art as the possibility to communicate the areas that words do not reach.

 

I believe that to make new groundbreaking theories of our world, we need to collaborate interdisciplinarily. But these interdisciplinary projects often fail. Maybe because we so stubbornly hold on to and believe in our own discipline and its convictions. Maybe because the scientific language can only be spoken and understood within the concerned discipline. To do research - and to simply function as a human being - we need certain stable foundations and common conceptions, onto which to base our theories, and maybe this is actually what prevents us from changing our picture.

 

Maybe my artistic project already failed before it started. But maybe this failure is actually what makes it ramify and diverge into new questions.

 

 

Nanna Hougaard, 2018

© 2020 NANNA HOUGAARD