Natural History

Natural History


An audiovisual portrait commissioned by Vienna's Natural History Museum.

"In all of these rooms, Benning discovered something unusual. The film natural history is a good example of his method of 'looking and listening' and, with it, an invitation for the viewer to explore the unusual spaces on display. Preserved nature makes demands on the audience. Benning modelled his film on the first 27 digits in the number π = 3.14159265358979323846264338. The film is composed of alternating short and long takes, the lengths of which derive from the digits in the number π. Although the images concentrate primarily on the Museum’s geological and biological collections, physics, chemistry and mathematics provide the basis for our understanding of the other natural sciences. The mathematical rhythm of Benning’s editing gives the scientific objects and their surroundings a mathematical base. James Benning, who first studied then taught mathematics before turning his attention to film, appears to have come full circle. In any case, the film natural history allows for a fresh, unconventional take on the Museum’s collections and spaces, finding a place within the contemplative codex of James Benning’s work" – Christian Köberl

Technical Specs

Director: James Benning
Year: 2014
Country: USA
Language: English
Duration: 77 min
Colour: Colour