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Exhibition: ‘Catharsis’ by Jakob Kudsk Steensen, Serpentine Galleries

Text by CLOT Magazine

Hero, Catharsis, Jakob Kudsk Steensen (2019-20)

Catharsis, an exhibition by Danish artist Jakob Kudsk Steensen, is open at the Serpentine Galleries London. It is an immersive digital simulation of a re-imagined old-growth forest that has developed undisturbed over hundreds of years. The work’s virtual ecosystem and synchronised audio comprise 3D textures and sounds from several North American forests, gathered through fieldwork undertaken by Steensen and his primary collaborator Matt McCorkle, an American sound artist working at the intersection of technology, the natural world, and space.

Catharsis follows Kudsk Steensen’s previous work for the Serpentine, The Deep Listener (2019), an augmented reality app for mobile devices that offers an audio-visual ecological trail through Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park, which sound elements were also produced by McCorkle. Set up as a single continuous shot that moves from the watery underground roots to the surveying viewpoint of the canopy, Catharsis draws on Steensen’s conception of ‘slow media’ whereby digital technologies can foster attention to the natural world and create new narratives about our ecological futures, simulating a journey to past and present natural environments, slowed down and up close. 

Jakob Kudsk Steensen is a Danish artist based in New York who is concerned with how imagination, technology and ecology intertwine. His works range from immersive VR ecosystems to mixed reality installations bridging physical and digital worlds, which invite audiences to enter new ecological realities. 

Catharsis is presented as part of a global public art project, CONNECT, BTS, a series of major art projects open free to the public in London, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Seoul and New York initiated by South Korean pop group BTS. As of 14 January, audiences are able to access Catharsis anywhere in the world via a dedicated website and from 28 January to 15 March, the work is presented in a major outdoor installation on the grounds of the Serpentine Galleries’ Zaha Hadid-designed extension. 

(Media courtesy of the artist)
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