Glistening Troubles, 2017

Installation view: Tidalectics, Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna, Austria, 2017
Installation view: Tidalectics, Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna, Austria, 2017

Installation with four CGI 3D animations of dinoflagellates (color, sound) on monitors; one single-channel video (color, sound) on monitor; two-channel sound; four mirror columns; eight dinoflagellates in bio resin casts
1:24 min, 2:50 min, 1:09 min, 00:43 min (animations)
7:14 min (video)
Dimensions variable
Co-commissioned by Contour Biennale, TBA21–Academy, Alligator Head Foundation TBA21-Residency, Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, and the Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania

Susanne M. Winterling’s installation Glistening Troubles grew out of the artist’s TBA21 residency at the Alligator Head Foundation in Jamaica. The work investigates the bioluminescence of dinoflagellate algae as an indication of the health of coastal waters with toxic potential. Winterling has been following these organic bodies that light up when touched or moved for several years, her connection with them suggesting new forms of interspecies proximity. The computer-generated animated imagery of enlarged individual algae brings audiences up close to these organisms, transforming scale and temporality and blurring the borders between nature and culture. A video interview with a fisherman about the traditional knowledge of the coastal fishing communities, which Winterling shot during her residency, grants insight into the medicinal properties of algae for treating skin infections, known to locals for centuries. The work suggests a metaphorical proximity between the skin—our outer boundary, with which we touch our surroundings—and luminescent screen technologies, our interfaces with digital realities. Mirrored columns are interspersed with the monitors like corporeal agents, both reflecting and masking vision, similar to the intertwinement of bodies and information in overlapping analog and virtual worlds. Winterling’s research delves into interspecies solidarity and points to our vibrant entanglements with other bodies as what science philosopher Karen Barad calls “having-the-other-in-one’s-skin."