Image as speculative research and critique

We propose a visual dialogue between cosmology in contemporary astrophysics and some historical traditions concerning cosmic matter and structure formation; more precisely, we take some examples from the system of vortices in Descartes’ physics and the hermetic tradition in 17th century, and connect them with the simulations of large scale structure being performed nowadays. The comparison is drawn through different visual levels: starting with the representational one; followed by the analysis of the theoretical systems behind them; and, finally, paying attention to their function and materiality as visual productions. A skilled use of image analysis proves to be a fundamental tool to stress the continuities and peculiarities between different epochs and disciplines.


Lucia Ayala, Art Historian, is a PhD candidate at the Humboldt University in Berlin (Germany) and Granada University (Spain) under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Horst Bredekamp and Dr. D. Ignacio Henares Cuellar. Her project is granted by DAAD and laCaixa Foundation. From a transdisciplinary perspective between science and art, she focuses her work on the visualization of the plurality of worlds from 17th century onwards.
Her interests are concentrated on an art historical approach to science, specially focused on astronomy in 17th and 18th centuries, contemporary astrophysics and (so-called) media art.
Ayala was granted by the Ministry of Education in Spain from 2004 to 2007 in order to take part of the FPU Program – Training of Professors. She has worked as intern professor in the Art History Institute of the University of Granada (Spain) during the academic years 2005-2008. She obtained in 2005 a Master degree on Curatorial and Cultural Practices in Art and New Media given by MECAD – Media Center of Art & Design and Ramon Llull University, Barelona (Spain). She has worked as assistant of direction at MECAD, Barcelona (Spain), collaborating on projects of cultural management between 2005 and 2006.
She lives and works in Berlin.

Jaime E. Forero-Romero is a postdoctoral researcher in the Cosmology group at the Astrophysical Institute in Potsdam, Germany. As a computational astrophysicist, his main research interest is galaxy formation in an explicit cosmological context. He studied physics at the National University of Colombia and the Balseiro Institute (Argentina) before being admitted in 2003 to the École Normale Supérieure in Paris. In 2007 he completed a PhD in physics at the École Normale Supérieure de Lyon, with a dissertation on simulations of weak gravitational lensing and semi-analytic methods to model galaxy formation.