artline Kunstmagazin INTERVIEW (de)
artline Kunstmagazin INTERVIEW (en)
artline Art Magazine – Piotr Iwicki | INTERVIEW
Can we trust digitally composed or edited images? Or does that perhaps not play a role in the work of artists who use digital images?
Skepticism is an important element. Art has always challenged the status quo and called things into question. That is one of the noble roles that it plays. And when it comes to deception, we have to admit that we are sometimes happy to be deceived. The old masters also made ample use of illusion and deception. They are elements that make art so exciting.
Thematically, I think that all statements have an equal status. The only difference is the manner in which they are depicted and, in certain circumstances, the extent to which they enable viewers to gain a different perspective, for instance, by casting complex relationships in an entirely new light.
Ten years ago, the advance of new media led critics to predict the end of classic canvas painting. In the meantime, painting on a physical substrate has come to celebrate a renaissance. How would you describe the role played by new media in the development of the fine arts? Will they be replaced by new media in the foreseeable future or will we see a kind of coexistence?
I think we will see a healthy coexistence. I don’t think we can do without the real palpability of sculpture, the physicality of paint and its application to a physical surface because these are properties that make a difference and that are fundamentally different from digital works. The computer, too, is nothing other than a tool and shouldn’t be overestimated. Painting will never come to an end, and classic canvas painting will be with us for a long time to come. My computer-generated works are also, in the end, nothing other than images on a surface.
So far your works have remained at the basic representational level of canvas paintings. Have you also considered making art videos?
Yes, I’ve thought about it. The fundamental problem for me is that I would first have to be in the clear about the “what” and the “how” of contributing something new to the genre. For instance, when I saw the works of Bruce Nauman at an exhibition in Frankfurt, I found the way in which he applies processes of deceleration to the video medium – a medium that otherwise tends to symbolize the very opposite – a highly compelling or even shocking aspect. But aside from the fact that I can’t do everything, I would first have to think through the conceptual matters in terms of my artistic self-understanding – not to mention the investment that I would have to make in addition to shouldering the considerable costs associated with my digital prints.
Can you think of any recent exhibitions that you found especially impressive?
I have to admit that I sometimes find inspiration at bad exhibitions. In general, however, I try to determine what I no longer need to try to do. Years ago, an acquaintance of mine, an art critic by the name of Dr. Thomas Wessel, said to me: “Don’t try to find the art of the present in museums, look in the windows of department stores and other shops in the street.” This again corroborates Virilio’s suggestion. A Swiss art critic once wrote: “Art is that which becomes the world.” That’s what I look for at exhibitions.
And now to come back to your question: the Bruce Nauman exhibition was definitely the most impressive of the exhibitions I’ve seen recently. Primarily because he uses digital production processes to transform natural phenomena, thereby creating a window between these two levels. You know that the water on the screen isn’t real, it’s fictional. But when fiction is seen as utopia, it also offers hope of something better to come.
This interview was conducted by Paul Klock for the art portal artline.org / Freiburg 2005