Verena Friedrich

Vanitas Machine

Verena Friedrich  Vanitas Machine

source: vimeo

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.

In VANITAS MACHINE, a candle is placed in the centre of an experimental setup. Similar to the human breathing process, a burning candle consumes oxygen and produces carbon dioxide and water. The higher the oxygen and energy turnover, the shorter the burning time of the candle.

VANITAS MACHINE has been specifically developed to keep a candle »alive« under controlled conditions. By protecting it from environmental factors and by precisely regulating the oxygen supply the »metabolism« of the candle and thus its »lifespan« can be influenced.
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source: youtube

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 “rate-of-living 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.
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source: opekta-ateliersde

Verena Friedrich arbeitet in verschiedenen Disziplinen wie Installation, Video, Sound sowie mit biologischen Medien. In ihren Arbeiten untersucht sie vor allem die wechselseitigen Beziehungen zwischen Körper, Wissenschaft, Technologie und Gesellschaft. Ihre Projekte wurden international im Kontext von Medienkunstfestivals, Ausstellungen und Konferenzen präsentiert und ausgezeichnet mit dem Internationalen Medienpreis für Wissenschaft und Kunst des ZKM Karlsruhe, dem Förderpreis der Kunstministerin des Sächsischen Staatsministeriums für Wissenschaft und Kunst, einer lobenden Erwähnung bei den VIDA Art and Artificial Life International Awards sowie einem Stipendium der Kunststiftung NRW. Verena Friedrich absolvierte ihr Studium an der Kunsthochschule für Medien Köln und der Hochschule für Gestaltung Offenbach. Sie lebt zurzeit in Köln.

Verena Friedrich is an artist working in various disciplines such as installation, video, sound and biological practice. In her work, she examines the interrelations between the body, science, technology and society. Her projects have been presented internationally in the context of media art festivals, exhibitions and conferences, and have been granted the International Media Award for Science and Art from ZKM Karlsruhe, the Sponsorship Award of the Saxon Ministry of Science and the Fine Arts, a special mention in the VIDA Art and Artificial Life International Awards as well as a project grant by the Arts Foundation of North Rhine-Westphalia. Verena Friedrich holds degrees from the Academy of Media Arts Cologne and the University of Art and Design Offenbach, both in Germany. She is currently based in Cologne.