What is “culture”? One common theory defines culture as that which distinguishes humans from nature, and in Western-style scientific disciplines, often the two are conceived as being in opposition. The common model has it that culture is something that has risen “above” nature. Hence, natural processes both underlie, and potentially undermine, cultural processes, and culture must rule and master nature, including “human nature.” Other typical scientific conceptions state that either we are entirely determined by nature and its laws, and culture is only an illusion, or the exact opposite, that everything is a cultural “construction,” including our ideas of nature. Alongside these common ideological standpoints and trenchlines, there has been the explosive growth of industrial culture, of science and technologies that have made it increasingly difficult to say where “our” culture begins and “nature” ends.

In her sculptures, installations, and videos, Elisa Strinna investigates and tests such distinctions. She explores the way they structure our perception and our fields of knowledge. She does this not through theoretical reflection, but by closely examining various natural materials. As Strinna studies the information intrinsic to these elements of nature, various narratives come to life, which reveal intrinsic “cultural” aspects of nature, and challenge any narrow conception of both cultural and natural processes. What is left, instead, are differences of scales, times, and languages, which demand different forms of translation.


Taipei Biennial 2012