Kurt Hentschläger is an audio-visual artist who made impressive immersive works in the past (e.g. ZEE). Works in which he explores a separation between a mediated and a physical experience of the world. Currently he is developing a body of work that reflects the concept of nature in the 21st century. Can people discern still between a physical and mediated experience of nature? In an interview with Mirna Belina for the Sonic Acts catalogue he explains “in our media-informed minds nature is no longer an untamed, undisturbed terrain, but a managed, protected and framed area of property.” (Read more about Hentschlägers perspective in the interview in the Sonic Acts catalogue ())
What you see
The installation Measure is the first of Hentschlägers works to approach this concept of nature. Measure, presented in its own darkened room in the Stedelijk Museum, is a video piece. Three connected screens show beautiful images of nature. Images that are cut off at the edges of the screen. Sometimes there are three different images, sometime one image stretches over the three screens. Although the camera or its subject moves occasionally, the images are almost devoid of action and have no visible human interference. What does happen is an synthetic overlay. A raster of white squares, with lines as if made out of light, moves over the surface of the screens. This as well as the accompanying sounds are digitally constructed elements.
"The images of snow covered fir trees become a beautiful object in itself, fetishizable."
The presentation of three screens side by side calls to mind a performance installation from last year: The Immortals (Suzan Boogaerdt & Bianca van der Schoot, 2014). This performance presented four screens to the audience. Screens with live images of four performers, separated from the audience by roller blinds. In there the performers film their rooms, their actions, their YouTube performances. The performance approaches Hentschläger’s theme from an opposite perspective. While Kurt Hentschläger directs the camera to an outside world, Boogaerdt & van der Schoot point the camera in close-up on the human behind the camera.
What you get
Although the performers are very close and they film themselves in intimate situations, there is a distance between the onlooker and the person who is looked at. The mediatizing of their actions makes it almost unbelievable that the subject of the film is performing live and very near. The images become fetishized. It is the same distance that Hentschläger creates between onlooker and nature. The images of snow covered fir trees become a beautiful object in itself, fetishizable. When you come across such an image in real life, is it nature? Or a beautiful presentation of nature?