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Data Zone, Cultures Table #3

Close up of Data Zone, Cultures Table #3

Bright and sterile photograph of two petri dishes containing what appear to be bacteria cultures and lit from beneath. Upon closer inspection, the bacteria cultures are masses of tiny, silhouetted people photographed from above.

Michal Rovner, Data Zone, Cultures Table #3, 2003, Steel table, 6 petri dishes, 4 monitors, glass plates, lighting, and digital files; Gift of Heather and Tony Podesta Collection, Washington, DC; © 2016 Michal Rovner / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Data Zone, Cultures Table #3
Michal Rovner

The petri dishes in Michal Rovner’s Data Zone, Cultures Table #3 initially appear to contain pulsating bacteria or DNA. A closer look reveals that the swarming dark specks are masses of tiny, silhouetted people seen in bird’s-eye view. The images are projected in an endless loop onto the petri dishes using miniscule video monitors. Rovner created this captivating work by recording groups of people from above and transforming them through a heavy editing process that obscures any previously detectable natural arrangement.

Arrayed on a metal table, Rovner’s petri dishes simulate the feeling of a laboratory that juxtaposes science, art, statistics, and the human condition. Though the motif of abstracted, ambiguous human figures appears frequently throughout her oeuvre, Rovner leaves traces of individual movement, inviting viewers to engage deeply. The resulting experience is at once detached and mysterious, yet intensely human.

Artwork Details

  • Artist

    Michal Rovner
  • Title

    Data Zone, Cultures Table #3
  • Date

  • Medium

    Digital files, Glass plates, Lighting, Monitors, Petri dishes, Steel table
  • Donor Credit

    Gift of Heather and Tony Podesta Collection
  • Photo Credit

    © 2016 Michal Rovner / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
  • On Display