Ars ex machina – navigating the invisible

© Pablo Wünsch Blanco
© Pablo Wünsch Blanco

Martin Oeggerli’s navigations through the realm of micro objects take him all the way up close to his subjects. His discoveries seem as far removed from the real world as science fiction movie sets. Bacterial invasions, proliferating cell clusters, netlike weaves of mosquito eggs, delightfully frightful close-ups of mites, flies and fleas. Oeggerli invites his viewers to re-evaluate their perception and position: The glossy surfaces of his images set the stage for unique lifeforms, strange substances and mysterious processes within a microcosm beyond the visible.




It all started with the allure of nature close to the ground – snails, worms and insects, photographed or illustrated in minute detail. His training as a microbiologist gives Oeggerli access to techniques that allow him to observe and reveal hidden worlds as well as the aesthetics of a fixed piece of nature. More and more, however, his explorations took him into even tinier realms with their veiled secrets and invisible structures. Using ever more elaborate instruments and sophisticated methods, Oeggerli now tracks down the things and structures, hidden deep down in this micro world.



Beyond the sheer variability of cell shapes, the head of a cat flea or the complex ramifications of protein strands, it allows us to explore the culture of their observation. The elaborate build-up of Oeggerli’s revelations of the unseen tears the ostensibly objective depiction of nature from scientific observation and translates it to a purely artistic, pleasurable use. These works, teetering on the frontier, blend imagination and insights – and expand the terrain through unguided amazement at the extravagant, unexpected beauty of things viewed up close.


Text: Ulrike Pennewitz, 2014
Translation: Sonja Commentz, 2014