Photo: Jyrki Sinkkilä

Doctoral Reseach on the pictorial agency of natural phenomena

Tuula Närhinen


A study on the pictorial agency of natural phenomena

Tuula Närhinen’s doctoral research is built around an artistic practice that explores tracings and (photo)graphic recordings created by waves, rain and seawater. Re-adapting instruments derived from natural science, she constructs visual interfaces that enable us to move beyond the explicit and to grasp the unfurling of a world invisible to the naked eye.

Närhinen’s project considers the inherent visual potential in naturally occurring events. The thesis includes four exhibitions on the theme of water: Clapotis (2009), Seawatercolours (2012), Touch of Rain (2013) and Baltic Sea Plastique (2014). The artworks exhibit the making of the pictorial representations. The works emerge from interactions with water and result in gallery installations that, alongside the yielded graphs and artefacts, showcase the methods of inscribing and the devices implemented. The poetics of the practice arise from the corporeal enactment and the exposition of the medial translation. The artworks serve as case studies for further analysis of the cognitive and epistemic underpinnings of visual representation.

In the written component of the thesis, Närhinen discusses aspects of visual knowledge in broader terms. Informed by the disciplines of science studies, natural history and philosophy her research compares and draws parallels between the instrumental practices of natural science and visual art, with an emphasis on optical technologies. The thesis focuses on pragmatic analogies between the scientific and artistic ways of knowing in order to explicate and contextualise methods of aesthetic meaning-making and to provide for a critical approach to the study of the phenomenal world.

Tuula Närhinen (b. 1967) is a visual artist based in Helsinki. Närhinen graduated from the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts in Helsinki (MFA), and from the University of Technology (M.Sc. in Architecture). Her works have been exhibited in museums, galleries and other venues in Finland and abroad.

 Public Examination of Tuula Närhinen's Doctoral Thesis in Fine Arts

Sat 24.9.2016 at 13.00 in SES auditorium Kino K-13, Kanavakatu 12, 00160 Helsinki.
Examiner: professor Yrjö Haila
Chairman: professor Mika Elo

A pdf version of the thesis is displayed 10 days prior to the public examination in HELDA-database

The doctoral research will be published in print. Copies of the book can be bought on the day of the public examination. One may also order a copy at the Unigrafia webstore or via e-mail: .

Additional information: Study Coordinator Henri Wegelius, tel. +358 45 6578656.