After the Digital Divide March 30 to April 1

Symposium to examine aesthetic theory and new media; begins with lecture by artist Olafur Eliasson

A lecture by Scandinavian artist Olafur Eliasson will kick-off a three-day symposium on aesthetics and new media at Washington University in St. Louis March 30 to April 1.

Olafur Eliasson's *Weather Project*
Olafur Eliasson’s *Weather Project,* at the Tate Modern in London in 2003.

Eliasson is one of the most celebrated artists of his generation, known for combining natural phenomena such as water, light, wind and temperature with new and innovative technologies. His large, room-filling installations have been featured at major museums around the world.

Eliasson will speak on “Modelmania” at 6 p.m. Thursday, March 30, in Steinberg Auditorium, Steinberg Hall, located near the intersection of Skinker and Forsyth boulevards.

The talk is the first event in After the Digital Divide: German Aesthetic Theory in the Age of New Media, a symposium sponsored by the Department of Germanic Languages & Literatures in Arts & Sciences. It is also the final event of Unsettled Ground: Nature, Landscape, and Ecology Now! a year-long series co-sponsored by the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts and the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts.

Additional symposium sessions will take place March 31 and April 1 in Simon Hall, Room 112. Simon Hall is located just north of the intersection of Forsyth Boulevard and Olympia Way.

All events are free and open to the public. For more information or a complete schedule, call (314) 935-5106; email; or visit

Editor’s Note: For high-resolution images of Eliasson’s work, visit

After the Digital Divide

After the Digital Divide will feature presentations and discussions by more than 20 artists, art historians, museum professionals and new media experts from across the United States and Germany. Topics will highlight the aesthetic implications of electronic media as well as related technical and logistical issues, such as how digitization changes the distribution and storage of art works.

“The place of art and of the aesthetic has undergone dramatic changes,” said Lutz Koepnick, Ph.D., professor of Germanic languages & literatures and film & media studies in Arts & Sciences, who organized the symposium with Erin McGlothlin, Ph.D., assistant professor of Germanic language & literatures.

“While contemporary artists avail themselves of highly sophisticated electronic means, their work often explicitly disputes what earlier generations considered the tasks and boundaries of artistic expression,” Koepnick explained. “The recent surge of web and SMS art, digital photography and networked writing — and electronically expanded installation projects and musical composition practices — not only reveals the impact of new sources of creativity, but also changes the entire practice of art and how we should think about it.”

Yet Koepnick added that the symposium also aims to question the “technological triumphalism” that often surrounds writing about new media.

“Rather than to play out the new against the old, the speakers of this conference are challenged to think about the past, present, and future of the aesthetic as structured by critical differences, complex transactions, and meaningful alternatives.”

Olafur Eliasson

Born in Copenhagen in 1967, Eliasson studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Art and currently divides his time between Copenhagen and Berlin.

Eliasson is perhaps best know for his Weather Project, which drew 2.3 million visitors to the Tate Modern in London in 2003. Using humidifiers, Eliasson filled the museum’s vast, 35,000-square-foot Turbine Hall with a fine mist, created from a mixture of sugar and water. Hundreds of mono-frequency lamps then emitted light at such a narrow frequency that only the colors yellow and black were visible, thus replicating the radiant effects of the sun.

Eliasson has also created installations for the ARoS Kunstmuseum in Århus, Denmark (2004); the Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg in Germany in (2004); and the 2003 Venice Biennale, among many others. In 2004, he designed chandeliers for the new Copenhagen Opera House and a dramatic 9.3-meter-tall spiral staircase, titled and Umschreibung, for the Munich headquarters of global accounting firm KPMG.


“After the Digital Divide” is sponsored by the Department of Germanic Languages & Literatures in Arts & Sciences with support from the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts and the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts. Additional support is provided by the Sam Fox School’s College of Art and Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, the College of Arts & Sciences, the Department of Art History & Archaeology in Arts & Sciences, the Committee on Comparative Literature in Arts & Sciences, and the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst, New York.

In addition to his talk at Washington University, Eliasson will participate in a round-table discussion March 30 at the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts.


WHO: Washington University in St. Louis

WHAT: Symposium, “After the Digital Divide: German Aesthetic Theory in the Age of New Media”

WHERE: Olafur Eliasson lecture: Steinberg Hall; Symposium events: Simon Hall

WHEN: Olafur Eliasson lecture: 6 p.m. Thursday, March 30. Symposium events: 8:45 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, March 31, and 10 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. Saturday, April 1

COST: Free and open to the public

INFORMATION: (314) 935-5106;; or