Photographer Daniel Stier has a new book out, and an accompanying exhibition on display at the kulturreich gallery, called Ways of Knowing.
Skier’s photos depict human subjects immersed in, or even at the mercy of, spatial instrumentation: strange devices conducting experiments that function at the scale of architecture but whose purpose remains unidentified.
In Stier’s words, the overall series is “a personal project exploring the real world of scientific research. Not the stainless steel surfaces bathed in purple light, but real people in their basements working on selfbuilt contraptions. All shot in state of the art research institutions across Europe and the US, showing experiments with human subjects. Portrayed are the people conducting the experiments—students, doctorands and professors.”
In recent interviews discussing the book, Stier has pointed out what he calls “similarities between artistic and scientific work,” with an emphasis on the craft that goes into designing and executing these devices.
However, there is also a performative or aesthetic aspect to many of these that hints at resonances beyond the world of applied science—a person staring into multicolored constellations painted on the inside of an inverted bowl, for example.
Ostensibly an ophthalmic device of some kind, it could just as easily be an amateur’s attempt at OpArt.
In a sense, these are not just one-off scientific experiments but spatial prototypes: rigorous attempts at building and establishing a very particular kind of environment—a carefully calibrated and tuned zone of parameters, forces, and influences—then exposing people to those worlds as a means of testing for their effects.
In any case, here are a few more images to pique your curiosity, but many, many more photos are available in Stier’s book, which just began shipping this month, and, of course, over at Stier’s website.