TRILOGY Reflections on Frankenstein, the Arctic Circle, and the History of Science

March 3 - April 17, 2004

Stephen Wirtz Gallery announces Trilogy: Reflections on Frankenstein, The Arctic Circle, and The History of Science, an exhibition of a new three-part series of large-scale photographs by Catherine Wagner that examines the synthesis of science, nature, and humanity in contemporary society and is inspired by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

Wagner’s extraordinary multifaceted tour de force consists of a three-part focus. Subject matter ranges from experimental equipment at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center to the vast remote landscape of the Arctic Circle, and, finally, to early sculptural representations of molecular structure.

These images offer surprising and profound revelations that run counter to commonly believed myths about the visual aspects of technology and the existence of pristine and unexplored landscape on earth. Like Frankenstein’s monster in the celebrated novel, Wagner’s portraits of ultra-high vacuum chambers with their multiple “eyes” and outer insulation of common household aluminum foil elicit an unexpected sympathetic human response. Evidence of human presence for the purpose of scientific research in the Arctic Circle is subtly revealed in Wagner’s images of the otherworldly beautiful, yet punishing and frozen terrain, which serves as the climatic setting for Shelley’s novel. 1950s era molecular models, respectfully archived in cabinet displays at institutions of scientific learning, represent early attempts to visually manifest the building blocks of the physical universe, perhaps reminding one of Victor Frankenstein’s laboratory.