Thuistezien 107 — 08.11.2020

Marie Kølbaek Iversen
Retroaction VII

A butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil could ultimately produce a tornado in Texas. This famous metaphor by Edward Lorenz supports ‘the butterfly effect’: the concept that something seemingly small and trivial can have catastrophic consequences. The butterfly effect is often used within chaos theory — where it shows up in mathematical equations — for example, to predict the weather forecast.

This interview with the Danish media artist Marie Kølbæk Iversen explains how this theory inspired her to create an installation called Retroaction VII, which was part of the exhibition ‘I feel like I’m disappearing, getting smaller every day but when I look in the mirror, I’m bigger in every way’ at West in 2011. Iversen took the concept out of its mathematical context in order to create a new perception on the theory, as it can be all-encompassing, and applied to many areas of our lives.
Feedback is a key player in her installation, as she solely used a projector and a camera for Retroaction VII. The movements captured by the camera are promptly being used for the visuals and patterns that are created and reflected on the wall: even the minutest movements are embodied and magnified. The artist stated that she refuses the work to be about anything, though it can speak of many things. It opened a door for the viewer to reflect. Especially the time we live in now, there are some areas that desperately ask for a re-evaluation of our acts, they can cause a huge chain reaction of effects.

Speaking of butterflies, this effect can be linked to the role of insects in our ecosystem. We are dependent on our ecosystems and something as small as an insect plays a huge role in its proper functioning. When insects struggle, we will face the dramatic long-term consequences of this, and so anything you do — even if it’s the smallest act of placing a plant on your balcony — has a major impact. Iversen puts the spotlight on seemingly random acts, and shows us the effects and patterns that arise out of it. As a viewer we can conclude that Iversen’s work is indeed always about something, without her pointing us in any specific direction.