Shifting Images

“The art of the past no longer exists as it once did. Its authority is lost. In its place there is a language of images. What matters now is who uses that language for what purpose.”
-Berger, 1975

Julija Rukanskaite
W. Benjamin has argued that works of art lose their aura through constant reproduction and humans are left surrounded by a world that merely consists of ever emerging one-dimensional representations. In this context we want to discuss the relationship between memory and visual remembrance, looking at the back-and-forth relationship between representations and the functions of the human perceptual apparatus in today’s world. Some of the works included in this interview are more poetic in their nature while others seem to engage with more theoretical implications in relation to mirroring reality. How do you yourself see your practice in the context of creating certain kinds of representations and engaging with reality?

Nechama Sarah Winston
My intention is to engage with certain representations and realities by challenging the ones I know with alternative ones I learn about or discover in my research. While I work with archives, fracturing information and montaging materials together (text, image, moving image, sound, etc) helps me to achieve this. I also find it generative in the process of juxtaposing things together to create "new images" to counter ones that exist — often one-dimensional and binary realities.

Christian Sawalski
The initial idea for the video came from raw footage of a piece I did in early 2011. Over the years it got pushed around on quite a few different external hard drives (once even recovered from a broken one) and I’ve noticed that some of the material got glitched.
During the process of looking through the footage, after not having seen it for about 5 years, I realized how much of it I didn’t even remember shooting, how my memory is based on recordings from that time, of which quite a lot became glitched, altered, by that moment.
I became interested in exploring the possibilities and consequences of these digital memories being corrupted, altered and, ultimately, destroyed. Or to put it in other words, the act of “forgetting” within digital memory.
To paraphrase Boris Groys thoughts on W. Benjamin, “if the techniques of mechanical reproduction gave us objects without aura, digital production generates aura without objects, transforming all its materials into vanishing markers of the transitory present.”
The process is intrinsic to the final piece and involves using short clips of video files which are transcoded into audio clips. These are then altered by various methods before being converted back into video files, only to have the whole process repeated again. The outcome is a visual document of the progression of deterioration in which the element of chance reacting within carefully set restraints.
I wanted to question the basic notion of memory, the process of memorizing things. Images or experiences starting out as short term memory, gradually being passed on into long term memory and how even long term memory can be affected. Remembering as a repetition of information, that strengthens memory, but can also alter it. I always used an old VHS tape as an analogy, there more often you play it, the more errors it accumulates.
In addition to this, the look of the video piece actively works against the process of memorising it, creating memories of it. It is a combination of brief, highly degraded images. For the observer it is more or less impossible to remember single frames in any detail, all that is left in his/her brain is that persons very own construct of the images. By that, the video, which is about the corruption of images and collective digital memory, will create a corrupted image of itself within the long-term memory of the observer.

Kio Griffith
Reality has changed so fast and so many folds over that it feels like an irony to begin any discourse in the matter and that is where the discussion identifies the seam in the endless loop of public fiction. Finding that tactile aberration, in it is the hinting, the end of the fragile thread that could lead in back to the source of reality bypassing the layered versions of told fiction. In a way, this is archaeological work.
Reading images, reading sound, reading environment and the space that holds all matter are the grounds for representing reality. There’s constant shuffling necessary to keeping distance from applied information. Self journalism is redefining ‘reading,’ in physical form, code, and sense of space. There’s a continuum in questioning what is set as a system

Julija Rukanskaite
In some of these works there seems to be a mediation between shared histories or perceptions and that of more individual or precise context. There seems to be a transitional component, where the interests in the contexts which you deal with either allude to change, difference, or anticipate it. What role does the image play in framing, or constructing these narratives?

Rachel Gruijters

Malte Hultgren and Gabija Nedzinskaite, I was wondering whether the two videos should be played on loop simultaneously and next to each other, or should they be seen separately?

Juan delGado, After seeing your film, I read the synopsis on your website and I loved seeing that it was inspired by The Metamorphosis by Kafka, as it kind of reminded me of that. I haven't fully figured out yet why, but somehow it also reminded me of Alphaville by Godard. I think mainly because of the unnerving and moody atmosphere.

Juan delGado

Rachel Gruijters, the film was inspired by 'The Metamorphosis' and also the Hollywood movie 'The Incredible Story of the Shrinking Man', about a narrator who feels how his body is changing without being able to stop it. In his search for an antidote, he travels to Greece as he knows the person who can cure him is in Athens. There he inquires the gods to give him a sign about what is happening; Athens symbolizes the beginning of Europe as we know, as well as the "European values". Here the reading goes into a more deeper layer: the body of this narrators could now be perceived as a metaphor for the body of Europe asking why everything around is falling apart - "it is starting to disintegrate".
Gabija Nedzinskaite

Rachel Gruijters, the work can be remade to fit another institution where it might be shown. But in this case, the videos that you have seen should be perceived as a documentation of the installation. So, the documentation of the reception should be shown next to the original piece on loop.
Julija, the work was originally shown in monitors that are made for announcements, reciting phrases that are used as announcements by the academy. The image itself is not important without the context of showing it in a reception. The second video shows a documentation of the intended situation for screening.
It is not an institutional critique because we are not criticizing the circumstances, but we are pointing out the change of function of our main narrator, the receptionist. We amplify this point by contrasting it with the portrayal of announcements as a static/regular action in our work is seen as an observation, not an issue.