Not logged in
Log in | Register | Forgot Password

Armin Linke: Oceans – Dialogues Between Ocean Floor and Water Column

06 July 2017 - 24 September 2017

For more than twenty years now, photographer and film-maker, Armin Linke’s work has dealt with how mankind uses technology and knowledge to transform and develop the Earth’s surface to adapt it to humanity’s needs. His films and photographs are observations of the changes humans have made to the land, oceans, and biosphere.

An earlier project of Linke’s from this field of inquiry, The Anthropocene Observatory (2013–14), documented how scientific and political institutions approach the issues of climate change, nature conservation, and geology. The Anthropocene Observatory was a collaborative project by Armin Linke, architects and urbanists John Palmesino and Ann-Sofi Rönnskog (Territorial Agency), and curator Anselm Franke. The project was commissioned by Haus der Kulturen der Welt, in the ambit of the ‘Anthropocene Project’.

In his new project, Oceans, Linke dives into the fascinating worlds of the open ocean and the deep sea, in a historical moment when research about these realms—including the high seas, the deep sea, and the seabed—has gained importance as never before.


In close collaboration with the German marine biology research institutes GEOMAR and MARUM, Linke has created an immersive choreography of remote-sensing images from the institutions’ video archives, which were taken by submersible remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) that can undertake biological and geological investigations up to a depth of 5,000 meters. With camera in hand, he accompanied scientists, representatives of public research institutions, and other global actors to observe their different procedures and show the interconnections that affect all of their activities. This documentation comes together in Linke’s installation Oceans, through which we gain insight not only into crucial behind-the-scenes practices but also into the complex processes of science and the scientists’ working methods and the negotiations of several agendas, which Linke renders visually understandable, ultimately arousing wider interest in important current oceanic research.

Inspired by Alien Ocean (2009), a captivating book by science anthropologist Stefan Helmreich on microbial oceanography, Linke met key actors and influential experts from the marine sciences. His interview subjects include marine biologist Prof. Dr. Antje Boetius, of the Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research in Bremerhaven, and marine geologist Prof. Dr. Ursula Röhl, of the IODP – MARUM Research Faculty of the University of Bremen, and he filmed on location at the Institute for Chemistry and Biology of the Marine Environment – Terramare of the Carl von Ossietzky University in Oldenburg. We learn about the expeditions undertaken by Prof. Dr. Ann Vanreusel on board the research vessel Sonne, and Dr. Matthias Haeckel guides us around one of the world’s leading marine sciences institutes: GEOMAR – Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel. The historical backgrounds of international environmental law and the law of the sea, as well as the difference between the legal status of the water column versus the seabed in international waters, are illuminated by Erik van Doorn, research associate at Walther Schücking Institute for International Law at the Christian-Albrechts-University in Kiel. In the laboratories of RWTH Aachen University, we explore processing concepts and solutions for marine mineral resources, explained by Dr. Martin Köpcke, while geologist Dr. Volker Steinbach, of the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR) at Geozentrum Hannover, expounds upon questions of marine resource exploration. Dr. Alexander Proelß, professor of law at the University of Trier, shares questions surrounding the benefit of sharing knowledge—irrespective of intellectual property rights—when it comes to delicate issues such as the health of the world’s population and the legal implications of the “common heritage” principle. Finally, Kai Kaschinski of Fair Oceans describes new challenges for international maritime protection and fair and suitable maritime development policy.

Rather than giving answers, Linke’s project raises questions—the matter of how to design our planet’s future being just one. Addressing issues of deep sea mining, biodiversity, the common heritage of mankind, sustainability objectives, and environmental strategies, as well as discussions and negotiations on questions surrounding key regulations, the aim of Oceans is to serve as a visualisation tool to aid understanding and possibly to create new solutions.

Oceans by Armin Linke will take the form of two multi-channel video installations designed to the architectural specifications of the Edith-Russ-Haus and will include scientific deep sea recordings and video interviews.

Ozeane, Videostill © Armin Linke


Oceans is an official project of the Year of Science 2016*17 – Seas and Oceans, a program of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. The project was commissioned and co-funded by Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary (TBA21), Vienna (

The project has been realised in collaboration with Giulia Bruno (camera, editing), Giuseppe Ielasi (sound, editing), Renato Rinaldi (sound), Kati Simon (project management). Special thanks to GEOMAR and MARUM, especially to Sarah Kaehlert and Nils Strackbein, for the valuable assistance with ROV Video Archive.

Armin Linke is currently collaborating with the University for Architecture and Technology ETH Zürich and was previously a professor at the University of Arts and Design, Karlsruhe, and the IUAV University, Venice, as well as a research affiliate at the MIT Program in Art, Culture and Technology, School of Architecture and Planning, Cambridge, US. His work has been exhibited at Centre Pompidou, Paris; Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin; Tate Modern, London; Fotomuseum Winterthur; and Centre de la photographie, Geneva. Linke’s multimedia installations were presented at the Venice Biennale of Architecture were his installation Alpi about the contemporary Alpine landscape was awarded with a Special Prize for best work in the Episodes section in 2004.

His solo exhibition The Appearance of That Which Cannot Be Seen was shown at ZKM – Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe (2015, 2016), PAC – Padiglione d'Arte Contemporanea, Milan (2016), Ludwig Forum, Aachen (2017), and Centre de la photographie, Geneva (2017).

Gefördert durch

Edith-Russ-Haus for Media Art, Katharinenstraße 23, D-26121 Oldenburg, Tel.: +49(0)441/235-3208, Fax.: +49(0)441/235-2161
Opening Hours: Tuesday - Friday 14:00 -18:00, Saturday - Sunday 11:00 - 18:00, Monday closed
Ein Ausstellungshaus der
Stadt Oldenburg