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.
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 ); 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.
I remember exactly where and when I decided to write a book about the moon: lying on my back in a dentist's chair, waiting for the anaesthetic to take effect. To distract his patients, the dentist had tacked a poster to the ceiling: a NASA image of the earth from space at night. I was struck by the way so much of the northern hemisphere glitters...
COPENHAGEN — Outside Denmark's Louisiana Museum of Modern Art on a recent late-summer morning, a few sunstruck visitors were sprawling on the turf of the sculpture garden, between monumental outdoor works by Alexander Calder and Richard Serra.
The Turkish novelist Elif Shafak is to follow Margaret Atwood, David Mitchell and Sjón as one of the 100 contributors to the Future Library, an art project that will only be seen by readers in 2114, when the spruce trees to make its paper have been fully grown.
A show about light: a light show – what might a curator put in? Just about all art concerned with making the world visible in some sense speaks of light, the very condition in which it was made.
The prizewinning author, poet, essayist and literary critic Margaret Atwood has been named as the first writer to contribute to Future Library, Katie Paterson’s 100 year artwork in Oslo, Norway. A thousand trees have been planted in Nordmarka, a forest just outside Oslo, which will supply paper for a special anthology of books to be printed in one...
‘Fossil Necklace is a string of worlds, with each bead modestly representing a major event in the evolution of life through a vast expanse of geological time. From the mono-cellular origins of life on earth to the shifting of the continents, the extinction of the Cretaceous period triggered by a falling meteorite, to the first flowering of flowers,...
Katie Paterson's work is a map of dead stars, 27,000 of them, or all that have so far been observed and recorded. But, as she tells us in this film, if you were going to make a map of all the dead stars it would be the size of the Earth.We follow the artist as she visits an observatory to talk to Professor Ofer Lahav about the mysteries of the...