The Long Now

© Wellcome Library, London, Blaise Alexandre Desgoffe inspired by Maximilien Honoré François Rapine, 1883

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© Wellcome Library, London, Blaise Alexandre Desgoffe inspired by Maximilien Honoré François Rapine, 1883

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The Long Now

April 1 – June 1, 2015

Artist Talk
Wednesday, May 27 at 5:30 pm


This residency is hosted as part of the international residencies program EMARE, in collaboration with PRIM and Perte de signal, and the generous support of Goethe-Institut and CALQ.

This project has received financial support from the European Union.

With The Long Now, Friedrich draws on the seventeenth-century vanitas paintings, where soap bubbles were often used as visual metaphors for the transient nature of life. Like a soap bubble, life pops out after a relatively short period of time. This project explores the soap bubble from a modern-day perspective, based on its chemical and physical properties and in reference to current developments in science and technology.

Friedrich's objective for The Long Now is to research and develop a machine that will prolong the lifetime of a soap bubble, potentially to make it last forever. The machinery will generate a bubble, send it into a controlled atmosphere chamber and keep it in suspension for as long as possible. To do so, the artist will alter the chemical composition of the bubble to improve its durability.

This technologically enhanced soap bubble will thus permanently oscillate between ephemerality and stability. This project can be seen as a sequel to Friedrich’s Vanitas Machine, in which she intervened with the atmosphere surrounding a candle to make it burn longer. Both address the manipulation and production of “individual” time by interfering with material processes.

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Verena Friedrich

Verena Friedrich (b.1981) studied at the Academy of Media Arts (KHM) Cologne and the University of Art and Design Offenbach (HfG) and is currently based in Cologne, where she is Artist in Residence at the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Aging. In 2005 she was awarded the International Media Award for Science and Art from ZKM Karlsruhe (ZKM) and in 2011, she received a special mention in the VIDA Art and Artificial Life International Awards. Friedrich makes use of analog and digital media such as classic sculptural materials, biological and organic matter, electronics and programming. Driven as much by theoretical research as by a hands-on experience with materials, form and function, she collaborates with engineers and scientists in order to translate complex issues into tangible forms.