Karin Sander: Ideoscapes

13 July - 2 September 2023 i8 Gallery

Karin Sander's Ideoscapes at i8 gallery features maquettes of 12 Icelandic mountain landscapes retrieved and printed directly from Google Earth 3D geospatial data. Approaching the digital data as found objects, the artist's minimal intervention consists of selecting the data at scales just big enough to contain each mountain and its surrounding context, given the maximum width of the printer's output. 


Ideoscapes captures each mountain as a memory of sorts, its data's conflated past moments of Google Earth's scanning, imaging, and compositing retrieved by Karin Sander at a specific date and time. In installation, removed from a sense of shared history, geography, and scale, the landscapes suggest their own intangible, resonant qualities. The works, printed with the latest technology, are immaculate and precise, but precision is a relative term. Here it defines a faithfulness to the data rather than the landscapes themselves. The works are not models but rather 3D landscape paintings, or perhaps more accurately, 3D landscape photographs since they are in essence printed images. They are, in fact, 3D renderings of 2D renderings of 3D geologic features, and in this translation the precision lies as much in their finished forms as the artist's ability to divine poetic potentials across the disconnects and ambiguities in and between the processes of their making. 



Notes on false precision

by Lani Yamomoto


Mapping landscapes is an imprecise art. On paper, the difficulty is two-fold: 1) Its surface is 2D. 2) The world is 3D. A lot can be lost in translation. Of mountains, for example. Where does one begin and end, exactly? Lines are exact. They draw one object at one location. They make mountains into objects. Objects either there or not. 


3D mapping is more precise, but the problem is still there. And, worse. The surface binaries are rooted in the very logic of its code. It paints the world by numbers, but only 1s and 0s. Trues and Falses - connected by ands (∧), ors (∨), and nots (¬). It's always possible to add more numbers between 0 and 1, fuzzying the logic to account for things not one or another but a bit of both (or more), but these are different values. Not degrees of truth but correspondence. How much one location matches one concept of one object. Like a mountain. Or a stream.


Is this too precise or not precise enough? Is this too precise and not precise enough? It depends on how we define our terms: 


Landscape - a. A tract of land with its distinguishing characteristics and features. b. A view or prospect of natural inland scenery such as can be taken in at a glance from one point of view.


False precision - When exact terms are used for things that can't be expressed in exact terms. 


Maps are a clear case of false precision. But so are landscapes - both themselves and a view of themselves at the same time. Maybe maps are precise enough. And haven't we always suspected? Rushing to explore the places they can't show us?


Karin Sander (b. 1957, Germany), lives and works between Berlin and Zürich. Sander is representing Switzerland in Venice's 2023 Architecture Biennale with the architecture and art historian Philip Ursprung, which is on view until 26 November. Her work is also currently on view in exhibitions at Art Encounters Biennial in Romania and the Museum Frieder Burda in Baden-Baden. She has had recent solo exhibitions at venues including the Kunsthalle Tübingen in Germany (2021), Museion in Bolanzo, Italy (2020), and the Haus am Waldsee, Berlin, Germany (2019), and the Kunst Museum Winterthur (2018). Sander's works are included in the collections of institutions worldwide, including The Reykjavík Art Museum, Iceland; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Metropolitan Museum, New York; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, California; the Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, D.C.; the Centro Galego de Arte Contemporanea, Santiago, Spain; Kunstmuseum und Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Germany; the National Museum of Art, Osaka, Japan; and the Kunst Museum Winterthur, Switzerland.


Installation Views