Christoph Oeschger – Filming the invisible, capturing more than meets the eye

In his artistic doctoral thesis, photographer and media artist Christoph Oeschger studies invisible phenomena and processes including wind and climate change. The Arctic nature is prominent in his works.

“The decisive events of our time are often not visible. My research revolves around making this invisibility negotiable. I use, for example, different montage techniques for photos, films and text in order to approach the invisible. In montage, the meaning arises from the relationship between the images. For example, demontage is a way of critically recycling found footage and giving it new meaning. I also use gaps: my films intentionally leave out some things, and the viewer must fill in these gaps with his or her imagination,” Christoph Oeschger says.

His doctoral thesis More Than Meets the Eye: Capturing Invisible Flows and Processes will be examined at the Academy of Fine Arts of Uniarts Helsinki on 14th of June 2024. Oeschger’s doctoral thesis includes a written part, a video installation, three essay films and a photo installation.

“The written part of my thesis brings all the artistic parts together. It is what I call an exploded view for the whole thesis. It includes different forms of texts, for example, conversations with artists or a glossary for each of the artistic parts. The conversations with the artists helped me blur the lines between theoretical reflections, methods, and practical discussions.”

Oeschger’s work was already research-based before he started his doctorate. His practice is rooted in a documentary tradition but he expanded this practice with the use of archival material, and often montaging different source materials together.

“During my doctoral studies, I wanted to expand my artistic practise to include essay films. Essay film gives me an opportunity to explore further than a factual film. I can negotiate subjects that are not visible or factual, but subjects with a theoretical, poetic or subjective approach,” Oeschger says.

His video installation Memories of a Past Future is about wind, an invisible flow, seemingly impossible to film. The film Unlearning Flow is about a German archive of scientific films and its problematic history. The film studies the effects of climate change on the Swiss Alpine geography. The film In the Ice, Everything Leaves a Trace was filmed in Greenland. It raises many questions about climate change and the effects on the Arctic of radioactive mineral mining for green technology. The photo and text installation The Other Side of Ice brings together icebergs in Greenland, text panels from Oeschger’s diaries, Arctic expedition maps and depth map images of the arctic seafloor.

Oeschger lives in Zurich, Switzerland, and will conclude his doctoral studies as a degree collaboration between the Zurich University of the Arts and Uniarts Helsinki. He has been part of Florian Dombois’ research team during his doctoral studies. In Switzerland, students cannot get doctoral degrees at art schools yet and therefore they collaborate with other universities.

“I am curious to see what the examination of my thesis will be like. I invite everyone to come and build a forum for negotiating my work within the framework of artistic research. I see the audience as my collaborator: they must fill in the gaps,” Oeschger concludes.

Master of Art Christoph Oeschger’s doctoral thesis More Than Meets the Eye: Capturing Invisible Flows and Processes will be examined at the Academy of Fine Arts of Uniarts Helsinki on 14th of June 2024 at 12:00. Kookos Auditorium 1, Haapaniemenkatu 6, Helsinki. The examiner is Professor Ellen Røed from the Stockholm University of the Arts and the chair is Professor Mika Elo from the Academy of Fine Arts of Uniarts Helsinki. The supervisor of the thesis is Florian Dombois from the Zurich University of the Arts. The language of the event is English.

List of the artistic parts:

Memories of a Past Future, 2019. 3 Chanel HD Video installation, 5’ 44”
Unlearning Flow, 2019. Essay film, 10’ 06”, UHD
, 2020. Essay film, 16’ 22” UHD
The Other Side of Ice, 2021, Photo installation, Framed inkjet and chromira prints, framed, 461 cm x 153 cm
In the Ice, everything leaves a trace, 2022. Essay film, 13’ 09”, UHD

The written part:

Text: Päivi Brink