Fine Art Photography Daily

Linda Alterwitz : Self Without Interpretation


©Linda Alterwitz, ES (wrapped up), “Straining to hang on. Resisting letting go.” 2020

I am always thrilled to share work by our Art + Science Editor, Linda Alterwitz, as she uses photography in in such unique and exciting ways. Her practice often connects the human body (and existence) to science, presenting us with new ways to consider subjects such as breath and the universe, making the vaccine visible, and how our bodies hold heat. Her newest project, Self Without Interpretation taps into the brainwaves of her community to illustrate and inform us about love and loss. Using a multi-electrode, medical-grade EEG device to collect brain activity data from over eighty participants, she uses the resulting data as source material for her work.

The debut exhibition for this series is at The John and Geraldine Lilley Museum of Art, University of Nevada, Reno from Thursday, March 1—May 13, 2023, with a reception and artist’s talk on Thur., March 2, 2023, 5:30-7:30pm.


“Self Without Interpretation” installation at the Lilley Museum of Art, UNR, Reno, NV


©Linda Alterwitz, LA (unraveled), “You’re still here but I fear not for long.” 2020

I work intuitively, merging art and science to investigate the complex relationships between humans and our environment. My ongoing fascination with unseen rhythms of the human body and our interdependence with the natural world are forces that reside at the core of my life and work.

In the series “Self Without Interpretation,” I collected brain activity data to use as source material. I learned to operate a multi-electrode, medical-grade EEG device and invited participants to attend private sessions in my studio to record their EEG data in real time.

I initiated a six-minute series of questions about love and loss in their lives and asked each person to think deeply about the answers. Upon completion I asked each person to write in my project notebook about his or her EEG experience as well as to describe a meaning­ful environment within the natural world. These writings provided me with additional insight to realize the photographic series Self Without Interpretation.

After reviewing each participant’s EEG recording, I collected digital screen-captures of the data, and printed the brainwave patterns onto surgical gauze—material that represents both pain and healing. I began to travel throughout the United States in search of peoples’ stated sanctuaries. Carrying only my digital camera and printed fabric, I released the gauze into the natural environment to photograph its movement through currents of air or water. As my process evolved, I began to photograph the gauze after wrapping, suspending, or submerging it within the environment—thus enabling me to have a more physical connection in my overall project.

As the printed medical gauze became frayed and torn, it reminded me of the invisible threads that bind human beings to Earth. It is my hope that this work will offer viewers valuable, visual acknowledgment of the fragile and important connection to our planet that is needed for our common survival. – Linda Alterwitz


©Linda Alterwitz, NB (entangled), “I didn’t expect tears that almost felt like pain.” 2020


©Linda Alterwitz, DA (windswept), “Trees with dark green leaves, a blue river and a lake.” 2019


©Linda Alterwitz, JS (afloat), “These are the thoughts I never let myself feel.” 2019


EEG data printed on medical gauzed used as source material in “Self Without Interpretation”


A selection of participants during individual six-minute EEG sessions


Project notebook used to document each participant’s EEG session


©Linda Alterwitz, CS (tied), “I close my eyes and hear the crash of the waves.” 2020


©Linda Alterwitz, DSA (winded), “Trust, need, appreciation and acceptance.” 2020


©Linda Alterwitz, DL (reflected), “A love that feels always like an embracing hug.” 2020


©Linda Alterwitz, GK (entangled), “ A heavy feeling. It’s been 15 years since his passing.” 2020


©Linda Alterwitz, DM (suspended), “The smell of waves breaking.” 2019

Linda Alterwitz (American, b. 1960) is a visual artist utilizing photography, collage, and interactive methods. Her practice focuses on envisioning the unseen rhythms of the human body and our relationship to the natural world.

An informative sixteen-year exploration within the fields of science and technology led her toward an in-depth investigation of the nexus between nature, society, and the individual.

Her current work integrates the authenticity of science and the communicative power of art, sparking dialogue on the intended and unintended consequences of humankind when we separate ourselves from our natural environment.

She has facilitated educational programming at several art and medical institutions and led ongoing art initiatives within integrative medicine curricula. Current programming is in conjunction with UNR School of Art, Reno, Nevada and UNLV Integrative Medicine Program, Las Vegas, Nevada.

Alterwitz has received many grants including a strategic investment grant from the Montana Arts Council in 2020, the Jackpot Grant from the Nevada Arts Council in 2016, and a Puffin Foundation Grant in 2015. She was the recipient of the Nevada Arts Council Visual Artist Fellowship in 2015. In 2020, she was a finalist for the 2020 Clarence John Laughlin Award. In 2015 she was an Artist in Residence for Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, Florida.

Her work has been published in Smithsonian Magazine, Orion Magazine, The New Statesman, Musee Magazine among others. She has exhibited her work in both traditional exhibition and site-specific installations in the United States, United Kingdom, Japan, China, Spain, Israel, Germany, Greece, and Poland.


©Linda Alterwitz, LL (adrift), “Evokes feelings of both sadness and love.” 2019


©Linda Alterwitz, GK (in flight), “When I am around people I love and love me back.” 2020

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