Cetology Exhibition

Cetology, a solo exhibition by Natasha van Netten at the Vyhod Media Center, Petrozavodsk, Russia, May 2018. Please scroll down for more images and to read a summery of this exhibition.

This exhibition explores scientific whale research (cetology), both historical and contemporary, using the language of art as a means to access data and scientific documentation from a more personal perspective.

Pod Installation: What does a number mean? What does it look like when broken down into individuals? These 3,300 black triangles represent the estimated population of blue whales in the Southern Hemesphere. This total number is presented as a collection of individuals rather than as abstract symbol typed on a screen. This installation is hung in a way that allows the triangles to “float” in space, buoyant like in water. As the viewer walks around the piece, it seems to shift and change. This collection of pyramids resembles many things: a swarm of bees, group of fish or a swirling vortex. The largest creatures in the world (blue whales) are presented as an object the size of a small fish.

Typhlosis Drawings: These drawings were inspired by historical anatomical drawings of whales. Before the invention of the underwater camera, people did not really know what live whales looked like. Historical renderings of whales by early scientists and naturalists look strange and like a morph between fact and fiction, creatures and monster. Because these artists only had limited information (either verbal descriptions or dead specimens), there were informational gaps that left these artists space to use their imagination to fill in the blanks. This series of drawings was created by drawing the exterior outline of each whale blindfolded. Then, with open eyes, I finished the drawing adding dense marks to create a sense of body, volume and texture.