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Lena Trüper

Dissertation Project

Nature Metaphors of Cybernetics: Visual Expressions of Technoecologies from Modernity to the Present

(Working title)


In my PhD project, I discuss the artistic practices between 1960 and 1970, which generated visual nature metaphors such as clouds, random structures or water and earth surfaces to indicate adaptive systems that include the observer. I investigate how such visual metaphors built an ideological background of libertarian movements in western art and politics, envisioning the world as an ideal homeostatic ecosystem while neglecting strong social and political inequalities. How did visual nature metaphors promote the idea of a “natural“ hegemonic globalization that still pervails in the “creative clouds“ of contemporary digital culture? What epistemical role did metaphors play in bridging cultural and structural differences in artistic and scientific movements by creating meaning in different contexts? 

To answer these questions, I compare the role of visual nature metaphors in western and Latin American Art&Technology movements including the Argentine “Centro de Arte y Comunicación“ (Center of Arts and Communication, CAYC) and  the US collective “Experiments in Art and Technology“ (E.A.T.) or the German “Fernsehgalerie” (Television Gallery) by Gerry Schum. Thereby I propose, that artistic movements like “process art”, Land Art” and “Concept Art” predominant in these movements can be understood as visual expressions of technoecologies.How, for example, did Victor Grippo’s cloudlike sculptures of wired potatoes fit western libertarian discourses on information technology, cybernetics and ecology, while at the same time reflecting on problems of energy supply during military dictatorship in Latin America? How did Luis Fernando Benedit’s artificial ecosystems for cockroaches, snails and humans reflect the role of behavioral sciences throughout a period of political opression in Argentina while beeing embraced as libertarian interactive spaces at Venice Biennale in 1970? 


Lena Trüper studied Art History, History and Art, Media and Cultural Education at Goethe-University in Frankfurt am Main. In 2017 she graduated with her thesis „In the Aquarium of Cybernetics“ on nature metaphors in the media art of the 1990s. Due to her professional training as laboratory assistant in chemical industries before her studies, she developed a strong interest in automated systems and interdisciplinary research. After finishing her studies, she worked and freelanced for Städel Museum Frankfurt, Kunsthalle Darmstadt and for Max-Planck-Institut Empirical Aesthetics as well as Goldkammer Frankfurt, and DZ Bank Art Foyer.


Please note that these listings appear in the language they were originally published.


„Visual Natural Metaphors of Cybernetics in Arts and Popular Culture.“ in: Genealogy of Popular Science, From Ancient Ecphrasis to Virtual Reality, hg. von J.M. Morcillo/C.Y. Robertson von Trotha, Bielefeld: transcript, 2020, S. 419-436. (erscheint Mai 2020)

„Keine*r weiß, was Kybernetik ist! Über Kommunikation und Kontrolle in der Kunst nach 1945.“, in: Der Montierte Mensch, 8. November 2019 – 15. März 2020, Museum Folkwang Essen, Berlin: Kerber, 2019, S. 319-336.

„Macht's gut, und danke für den Fisch! Meerestiere als Metaphern der Virtualität. Ein historischer Einblick in das visuelle Erbe der Kybernetik.“ in: Dokumentation des 31. Film- und Fernsehwissenschaftlichen Kolloquiums Nr. 4, 2019, S. 231-249.

„Von Menschenbildern und Textmaschinen. Was Cyborgs im Film über den Wandel medialer Kommunikation erzählen.“ in:Visual Narratives - Cultural Identities, hg. von J. Bracker, Visual Past Nr. 3.1, 2016, S. 469-508.

„Das Bild als Datensatz. Ein Kommentar zu neuen Methoden der quantitativen Bildanalyse.“ In: Reproduktion und Methode. Eine Medienarchäologie der Abbildung in der Kunstgeschichte, Blog Studiumdigitale, Goethe University Frankfurt, 2015.

„Die Kunstgeschichte – ein Grabungsfeld für die Medienarchäologie?.“ In: Reproduktion und Methode.Eine Medienarchäologie der Abbildung in der Kunstgeschichte, Blog Studiumdigitale, Goethe University Frankfurt, 2015.