Towards (Im)Measurability of Art and Life

We are sur­roun­ded by prac­tices of mea­su­re­ments. Every day, we read and hear about as­tro­no­mi­cal­ly big num­bers, or uni­ma­ginable small fi­gu­res through which the fi­nan­ci­al cri­sis as well as en­vi­ron­men­tal­ly ha­zar­dous ca­ta­stro­phes are ex­plai­ned. How can we un­der­stand tiny exis­ten­ces re­pre­sen­ted in very lar­ge num­bers? Would it be suf­fi­ci­ent to ad­opt the same rule in un­der­stan­ding to such dif­fe­rent sca­les of num­bers? What images and ima­gi­na­ry pro­po­si­ti­ons do the­se num­bers evo­ke and pro­du­ce?

The research project Measurements (2011–2013) by Miya Yoshida stemmed from a common interest in measurement and its social-political implications as it takes shape in a project on mathematization in society and its materialization in educational environments by Claudia Hummel and Annette Krauss (Difference as Arithmetic Exercise) and Miya Yoshida’s own curatorial research projects in the biopolitical implications of the nuclear catastrophe of Fukushima, articulated in a 5-year-long exhibition project with Kunstverein Heidelberg and of radiation effects by mobile telephony in her doctoral work “The Invisible Landscape”.

The research project engaged the theme “Art & Measurement” – as an attempt to creatively link imagination, affect and on going transformation in measurement. It addressed the ambivalence of measurement and measurability in contemporary realities. On one hand practices of measuring promise scientific enlightenment, comparability and evidencing, on the other hand they impose conformity by perpetuating existing categories, standards and scales of scientific conventions. Tiziana Terranova identifies forms of measurement in two fields: one is physics and another is aesthetics. Following Terranova, the project encouraged to experiment with different concepts of measurement from the positions of arts by elaborating three approaches to thinking about measurement:

  1. Measurement as In-Forming
  2. Measuring as Participation
  3. Vocabularies of Measurement: Numbers, Digits and Units.

For further information, please visit Miya Yoshida's website:

Event Series

As part of the project there has been a series of Dialogues between Artist and Scientist on the theme of measurement between December 2013 and January 2014 at Kunstraum of Leuphana University of Lüneburg:

  • Politics of Measurement: Chihiro Minato & Sophie Houdart, Video
  • Epistemology of Measurement: Lucy Powell & Oxana Timofeeva, Video
  • Aesthetics of Measurement: Patricia T. Clough & Matt Mullican, Video

This project was part of the research project Art and Civic Media within the EU major project Innovation Incubator.