When I close my eyes, I imagine a beautiful topography, not ever seen by any human, raising from the landscape. Unreal shapes, large but soft bodies of gamma radiations fading into the forest canopy. The shapes follow the features of the scenery result of radioactive decay in the bedrock.
The interest of Erich Berger in radiogenic phenomena, geological processes and the time scales from deep time to deep futures are behind his project called Spectral Landscapes. In 2019 he sent his proposal to the Accelerate Award Call, and was selected the Accelerate Finland artist-residency, hosted by Arts at CERN in Geneva.
The pandemic and the closure of the CERN research facilities and laboratories have caused the delay of the physical residency, but Erich has been able to start dialoging with CERN scientists remotely, attending a series of meetings, kindly organized by Monica Bello, the Head of Arts at CERN arts program.
The conversations online have been fruitful and orientated Berger´s on-going research, that started already in 2013 during a visit to Enontekiö in Sápmi, the Northern sub-arctic part of Finland.
In 2020 his fieldwork has continued in different sites such as Kovela in southern Finland and Palkiskuru in Sápmi, by scanning the radioactive mineralisations at these sites with a sophisticated DIY sensor device. The device allows to record the geo-located intensity of the gamma radiation of the site, on the ground by walking and in the air by being mounted on a drone. The collected data permit Berger to portray the gamma radiation fields as bodies which protrude from the radioactive base-rock as intricate but intrinsic features of the landscape. The first artistic results have been shown in the group exhibition ‘Splitting the Atom’ at CAC in Vilnius in 2020 and shortly in the group show Alter(action) that will take place at the Fundação Eugénio de Almeida in Evora this spring.
Scanning the sites involves “hours of walking and exploring: meditative and solitary days and enjoyable walks outdoors” as Berger says.
The on site residency at CERN laboratory is now planned for fall 2021.
Meanwhile the snow melts and the Finnish landscape topography is recognizable again, allowing Berger’s field work to continue .
European Laboratory of Particle Physics CERN and Palkiskuru in Sápmi, the Northern sub-arctic part of Finland. Photo: Arts at CERN and Jyrki Autio.
Accelerate Finland Call for Entries closed on 4thNovember and the jury, comprised of Monica Bello, head and curator of Arts at CERN, Sabine Himmelsbach, director and curator of HeK (Haus der Electronischen Künste, Basel), Helga Timko, physicist from CERN and Ulla Taipale, curator at Capsula have decided to award among the 43 applicants the research proposal by Austrian, Helsinki-based artist Erich Berger.
Erich Berger, photo by Liisa Luohela.
Spectral Landscapes by Erich Berger proposes a fascinating and poetic artistic research combining two very alien and contrasted sites and landscapes, the vast natural open space with a uranium ore in sub-arctic Finland and the huge, man-made science facilities of European Laboratory of Particle Physics CERN, in Geneva. The project continues Berger´s long-term artistic research on deep time and radiogenic phenomena, aiming at discovering naturally-occurring radioactive processes produced in a landscape and how they can be captured by detection techniques.
Arts at CERN and Capsula thank all the applicants for their dedication and interests towards to this unique possibility to dedicate one month´s period for artistic exploration at CERN, and Saastamoinen Foundation and The Committee of Public Information (TJNK) for supporting Capsula with the Accelerate Finland Call for Entries.
Erich Berger will start his residency at CERN in spring 2020, combining the summer and autumn season with research periods both in Geneva and in Enontekiö in Sápmi, the Northern sub-arctic part of Finland.
Are you an artist or part of an artist group? Are you interested in multi-disciplinary research related to forests and the atmosphere? The Climate Whirl art programme at the University of Helsinki offers artists an opportunity to work at a scientific research station and related measuring stations in dialogue with researchers and utilising the research infrastructure and data of the station. The residency will be realized in 2020. The Call is international and the deadline for applications is 18th Nov, 2019.
Hyytiälä’s SMEAR II research forest makes electronic and pneumatic sounds. Multi-coloured leads and pipes crisscross among the tussocks and undergrowth of a Finnish commercial forest. Plexiglass measuring chambers sigh as they open and close in tree branches and on the forest floor. Measurements also go on all year round in the immense Siikaneva wetland area and Kuivajärvi lake. The area surrounding the station also features an old enchanting natural forest and clear-cutting area. Hyytiälä is a renowned base for international researchers who come to the station to conduct measurements and meet colleagues. The station is located in Juupajoki, Finland.
It has been calculated that the measuring stations of the Centre of Excellence in Atmospheric Science measure at least 1,200 different items from the atmosphere, northern coniferous forest, swamps and lake. Research conducted at the station, scientific experiments and measuring campaigns help to answer complex research questions posed by natural sciences.
Climate Whirl is an art programme functioning under the umbrella of theInstitute for Atmospheric and Earth System Research (INAR) of the University of Helsinki, which began its operations in 2012. The programme realises artist residencies and commissioned works as well as art&science workshops.
Working in Hyytiälä
We are looking for an artist(s)-in-residence for the Climate Whirl programme to conduct their own research at the station. An artist or group of artists may work at the station from four to six weeks during 2020 depending on the needs of their project. We aim to be flexible with regard to the duration and format of the residency; the most important thing when making our selection is the interest the proposal arouses and its topicality. We appreciate research oriented approach and long-term commitment. We hope that the artist-in-residence will leave something permanent at the station after the residency. It may be a work of art in the area surrounding the station, an experience shared with the audience that could possibly be recorded or an inclusive workshop after the residency period.
The research station employs approximately 20 people permanently and receives regular researcher visits from all over the world. During the summer, the station is at full capacity with university courses and scientific workshops or measuring campaigns. The station organises, for example, courses related to climate research, forest ecology and forestry.We will find a scientific partner or advisers to support the project, and the artist will be assisted in integrating into the everyday life of the station. The station has laboratory facilities and sauna is often warm!
The artist-in-residence will live in either a log building or the course centre with a shared kitchen and sanitary facilities. The station area includes historical log buildings from the early 1900s, which can be used for accommodation from May to September. Shared flats in the more modern course centre are used for winter accommodation.
The artist(s)-in-residence are selected by an expert jury comprising representatives from the worlds of science and the arts.
Conditions of the residency
A fee of €3,000 will be paid to the selected artist or group of artists.
Max. €3,000 will be contributed towards the production costs of the new work of art.
The residency covers the accommodation costs.
Reasonable travel costs to the station from Finland or Europe will be covered to a maximum amount of €500. We encourage applicants to travel to Hyytiälä by land or water!
The artist-in-residence or group of artists may stay at the station for a maximum of six weeks during 2020. In the case of a group, the residency must be agreed according to the accommodation capacity of the station.
Submission of applications
Send your proposal in Finnish or English by 18 November 2019 to: email@example.com
The proposal must include:
A description of the project topic and goals (max. 1 A4 page)
CV or portfolio of the artist or group of artists (max. 3 A4 pages + internet links)
Tentative plan for the timetable
Tentative budget of the artwork
The maximum size of appendices is 3MB each, in PDF format.
More information about the call for residency applications is available from
More information about artistic activities at Hyytiälä Forestry Field Station
In recent years many artists have visited the station, one of whom is the visual artist Terike Haapoja who became interested in the research conducted at the station in 2008 and her work, related to carbon cycling, was performed at the 2012 Venice Biennale. German media artist Agnes Meyer-Brandis worked as Climate Whirl programme’s artist-in-residence in Hyytiälä in 2013–14. Her work Teacup Tools received an honorary mention in Ars Electronica’s Hybrid Arts category in 2015 and it has been travelling in exhibitions around the world. A Finnish group of artists IC-98 is currently working on a piece which is situated in the old forest in Hyytiälä. It will be published later this autumn. Other artists who have worked at the station include Finnish visual artist Josefiina Nelimarkka and the Saine Ensemble.
Hyytiälä Forestry Field Station is located less than an hour’s drive from Tampere towards Mänttä. The exact location can be found here. The closest town, Orivesi, is located approximately half an hour’s drive away. The station has cars which can be used to get around in the local area for a fee.
Articles in Finnish: Helsingin Sanomat, “Hyytiälässä on mitattu Tšernobyliä, havaittu ensimmäisenä Islannin tuhkapilvi ja nyt kurkotetaan Kiinaan” (‘Hyytiälä has measured Chernobyl, been the first to detect the ash cloud from Iceland and is now reaching out to China’), 23 March 2019
The last project of Capsula, Curated Expeditions, has an own blog. The basic information about the first Expedition to the Zoo of Novosibirsk is now available – more information will be added during the next weeks.