About (OU)VERT – University of Copenhagen

(OU)VERT - Open green > About (OU)VERT

About (OU)VERT

(OU)VERT – ‘open green’ – undertakes an interdisciplinary art, cultural and media studies, and natural sciences based approach to investigate the exceptional role of ‘green-ness’ as colour, perceptible physical phenomenon, biological agency, material medium, semantic construct, metaphor and ideology. It systematizes relevant aspects in scientific disciplines across different cultures of knowledge related to green as medium, in order to strengthen the Humanities in the light of rapid technological advances and related worldviews. The project examines green as the most anthropocentric of all colours, indeed perceived as ‘natural’ and employed to evoke homo faber’s antithesis, and investigates how greenness is increasingly being constructed.

To humans a plant appears green because its chlorophyll absorbs high-energy red and blue light photons for photosynthesis, but reflects the middle spectrum as its ‘waste’. This spectrum with a wavelength between roughly 490 and 565 nm, useless for plant’s photosynthesis, corresponds precisely to the largest spectrum visible to humankind. Greenness, despite its proxy function to stand in for the ‘natural world’, has become a technical colour for visualization – lasers, GFP biomarkers or night vision devices – as well as a discursive and political tool for greenwashing greenhouse effects away. On the other hand, ironically, pigments able to technically fix green colour are reported to be the most difficult to obtain, and the most toxic in art history. (OU)VERT analyses greenness’ permanent tension between the technicality of its aesthetic staging, its cultural connotations, its biological and physiological materiality, and mediating qualities.

Carried out in parallel at the Department for Arts and Cultural Studies and the Department of Health and Medical Sciences, the project networks Danish and international researchers to create an interdisciplinary research cluster, maps bibliographic, iconological and epistemological sources, organizes art and sciences events, academic courses and workshops, interdisciplinary conferences, seeking to impact both on public policy making and on the creative economy. (OU)VERT is made possible thanks to a two years grant from the Novo Nordisk Foundation.

Images: Left - Paul Vanouse, The Latent Figure Protocol; center - Reserva Biologica Coaba/Colombia, photo Jens Hauser; right - HeHe, Nuage Vert