Verena Friedrich

Vanitas Machine

The installation VANITAS MACHINE addresses the desire for eternal life and the potential of life-prolonging measures. Based on a candle which – by means of technical intervention – burns down very slowly, vanitas machine creates a contemporary analogy to the endeavour of prolonging the human lifespan with the help of science and technology.Being one of the classical vanitas symbols, a burning candle recalls the futility of the moment, the transience of human life and the certainty of the end of all existence. But is this end really still inevitable?In the course of the last two centuries, average human life expectancy has increased significantly in the industrialised countries. Moreover, in the context of scientific research the biological causes of ageing are being explored. Numerous theories of aging have already been developed pointing both towards physiological as well as environmental factors.One of the first theories of ageing was the so-called »metabolism theory«, which claims that the lifespan of organisms is reciprocally related to energy turnover and therefore connected to calorie intake, oxygen consumption and heart rate: The higher the metabolic rate, the shorter the lifespan of the organism.

Verena Friedrich

THE LONG NOW
A soap bubble usually remains stable for only a few moments – it is a perfectly formed sphere with an iridescent surface that reflects its surroundings. As one of the classical vanitas symbols the soap bubble traditionally stands for the transience of the moment and the fragility of life. THE LONG NOW approaches the soap bubble from a contemporary perspective – with reference to its chemical and physical properties as well as recent scientific and technological developments. THE LONG NOW is aimed at extending the lifespan of a soap bubble, or even to preserve it forever. Using an improved formula, a machine generates a bubble, sends it to a chamber with a controlled atmosphere and keeps it there in suspension for as long as possible. The project is presented in the form of an experimental set-up in which the newly created soap bubble oscillates permanently between fragility and stability.