Scottish-born multi-disciplinary artist Katie Paterson teases out facets of overwhelming concepts—such as interplanetary time differences, the history of our planet, and the brevity of human lifespans—and makes them digestible. Through her immersive installations, text-based pieces and sculptures, she takes the audience from the massive to the minute, from the cosmological to the deeply personal.Read More
Since graduating with a BA (Hons) from Edinburgh College of Art in 2004, and with a MFA from the Slade School of Fine Art in London in 2007, Paterson has become known for her research-based, conceptually driven process, and her Romantic, poetic and coolly minimalist presentation style.
Paterson uses both everyday and advanced technologies to connect her audiences with the sublime—such as faraway stars, planets, natural phenomena and meteorological events—as seen in Earth-Moon-Earth (Moonlight Sonata Reflected from the Surface of the Moon) (2007), when she converted Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata into Morse code and transmitted it to the lunar surface and back to a player piano.
Paterson is also known for reimagining and repurposing ordinary machines and everyday systems. For Vatnajökull (the sound of) (2007–8), she installed a microphone underneath a glacier and broadcast the sounds of the ice melting, live, to any phone that called 0775 700 1122; in her month-long project Streetlight Storm (2009), she set up the lamps on Deal Pier in Kent, England, to flicker anytime there was a lightning strike on Earth; and in Timepieces (Solar System) (2014), she calibrated nine wall clocks to tell the time on the planets in our solar system and on Earth's Moon.
Paterson regularly collaborates with experts to realise her artworks and expand her practice. She has worked together with technicians at the lighting manufacturer OSRAM to take spectral measurements of moonlight and apply it to a custom-made bulb (Light bulb to Simulate Moonlight, 2008); and for All the Dead Stars (2009), she had leading cosmologists and 'supernova hunters' assist her in mapping the locations of just under 27,000 dead stars.
Similarly, Paterson has worked with nanotechnologists to carve a grain of sand down to just 0.00005 mm across, and then tossed it into the Sahara for Inside this desert lies the tiniest grain of sand (2010). In 2013, for Fossil Necklace, she enlisted a specialist stonecutter to hand-carve 170 fossils she had collected, found or bought, into tiny beads. She has also used advanced telescopic technologies to source thousands of detailed images of solar eclipses for her project Totality (2016). Whether consulting specialist space agencies, biologists or architects, or using sophisticated materials, Paterson produces works that prompt viewers to examine their place on Earth and their understandings of time and their own ephemerality.
Paterson has participated in both group and solo exhibitions throughout the United Kingdom and internationally—from London to Edinburgh, New York, Seoul, Berlin and San Francisco. Her artwork has been shown at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh; Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York; Art Institute of Chicago; and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney. In 2014, she received the Visual Art award at The South Bank Sky Arts Awards, and in 2010, she became University College London's first artist in residence in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. She is also an Honorary Fellow of Edinburgh University.
Genista Jurgens | Ocula | 2018