Christian Waldvogel. Unknown

The Orders of Randomness

The genesis of planets and life on earth from an unexpected point of view.



Title Information

Text by Christian Waldvogel and conversations with Jack van Loon, Ben Moore, Jakob Pernthaler, and Jean-Pierre de Vera. With an essay by Daniel Morgenthaler. Edited by Helmhaus Zürich

1st edition

, 2014


168 pages, 59 color and 84 b/w illustrations

12.5 x 19 cm

ISBN 978-3-85881-756-3


For an exhibition at Helmhaus Zürich, Swiss artist Christian Waldvogel has created a three-part installation using candles, cyanobacteria and nutrient fluid. In one part, melting candles by random movement form globular “planets” over the duration of the show. Part two is a 1,615 sqft pool of nutrient fluid as habitat for cyanobacteria, representing the earliest forms of life and pioneers on planet earth for other organisms. In the third part, Waldvogel places his planets within a self-conceived solar system.
This story of genesis and the beginning of life on earth, following an equally random order, has been transformed into the book Christian Waldvogel. Unknown: The Orders of Randomness and amended with images and texts. Christian Waldvogel discusses the chapters of this universal narrative with experts in cosmology and astrophysics, cell-biology and gravitational research, aquatic microbial ecology, and exobiology and planetary research. These conversations show from an unusual perspective how the planet we are inhabiting may have come to existence. In his essay, Daniel Morgenthaler investigates what art can tell science and how both disciplines contribute to create our view of the world and universe.


Deutsche Ausgabe

Authors & Editors

Jörg Heiser

, born 1968, co-chief editor of Frieze art journal and freelance curator and publicist.

Jack van Loon

  is cell-biologist and gravitational researcher at the European Space Agency ESA's  Science and Technology Centre in Nordwijk and at VU Uinversity in Amsterdam.

Ben Moore

 is professor of cosmology and astrophysics at University of  Zürich.

Daniel Morgenthaler

 is a curator at Helmhaus Zürich.

Jakob Pernthaler

 is professor of aquatic microbial ecology at the University of Zürich's Institute of Plant Biology.

Jean-Pierre de Vera

 is exobiologist at German Aerospace Center's DLR Institute of Planetary Research in Berlin.

Christian Waldvogel

, born 1971, studied architecture at ETH Zürich and Rhode Island School of Design. He lives and works as a conceptual and visual artist and programmer in Zürich. He has also been appointed co-chair of the Topical Team Arts & Science of ESA European Space Agency in 2011.