Catalyst Conversations: Reading Messages in the Natural World

Monday, January 27 2014
6:00 pm – 7:00 pm

Location: Broad Institute of MIT & Harvard, 7 Cmabridge Center, Monadnock Room, Cambridge, MA 02142

Rosamond Purcell and Sven Birkerts

Join the conversation! We are pleased to invite you to our next event, continuing the dialogue between art and science.

Catalyst Conversations @ Broad Institute
Monadnock Room

Monday, January 27, 2014

6-7 pm

Reception to follow

An Out of the Ordinary Conversation 

Photographer Rosamond Purcell will discuss her longstanding interest in natural historical specimens and her thoughts about the phrase, "an art that nature makes,"  a tenet that lies at the core of her practice. She will also discuss her collaboration with the late Stephen Jay Gould, paleontologist and essayist, who, over the course of almost two decades, wrote about the biological lessons inherent in Purcell's images. In the preface to Crossing Over: Where Art and Science Meet (the last of their three collaborative books), Gould writes, "although the two disciplines may usually communicate in different dialects, when juxtaposed they strikingly reflect upon and enhance one another."  Noted author Sven Birkerts will help Purcell bring this work to life by reading passages from some of these essays.

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We hope you will join us for this dialogue between art and science.


A photographer of natural history specimens since the 1980s, Rosamond Purcell has an abiding fascination with all manner of collections, in particular those in which objects have changed over time. Her work deals with the nature of reflections, scale and the double meanings that occur when something looks like something else.

Sven Birkerts has been editor of AGNI since July 2002. He is the author of eight books including The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age. He has received numerous grants including those from the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Foundation and the Guggenheim Foundation. He was winner of the Citation for Excellence in Reviewing from the National Book Critics Circle in 1985 and the Spielvogel-Diamonstein Award from PEN for the best book of essays in 1990.

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