Susan Schuppli, Atmospheric Feedback Loops (2016)


For this work, Susan Schuppli used 35mm film and a vertical format to capture a Dutch landscape, variations in light, and the sky above in one image. The Cabauw Experimental Site for Atmospheric Research, located in the west of the Netherlands, is an open-air laboratory where scientists monitor, measure, and model changes in the Earth’s atmosphere as it interacts with land surface processes. The various sensing technologies in and around the remarkable tower have been collecting data since 1970. This research takes place in the troposphere, where nearly all weather occurs.

According to the story told here at Cabauw, the artist Joseph Beuys once theorised that the unique atmospheric properties of light, which had inspired Dutch painters since the 17th century, disappeared with the land reclamation projects of the 1950s. In the former Zuiderzee, “polders” were created by taking land from the sea. According to this myth, the air was said to have lost its refractive shimmer due to the diminished number of water molecules carried inland by prevailing winds.

Today, the scientists conducting research in Cabauw record even more dramatic changes as the atmospheric feedback loops between land, sea, and air reveal long-term amplification of climate change signals. Terrestrial, aquatic, and atmospheric mediums have been forcefully remixed, creating radical new forms of unnatural media. As an artist and researcher, Susan Schuppli examines how the environmental systems and transformations brought about by global warming are recording new forms of injustice and violence; creating, in effect, a planetary archive of material evidence.


Susan Schuppli is an artist and researcher based in the UK, whose work examines material evidence from war and conflict to environmental disasters. Recent projects include Trace Evidence, a video trilogy commissioned by Arts Catalyst UK & Bildmuseet, Sweden, and Atmospheric Feedback Loops, a Vertical Cinema commission for Sonic Acts, Amsterdam. She has published widely within the context of media and politics and is author of the forthcoming book, Material Witness (MIT Press). Schuppli is Director of the Centre for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths University of London, and previously worked on the Forensic Architecture project. In 2016 she received the ICP Infinity Award for Critical Writing and Research.

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