Richard Mosse – The Enclave installation / London

Photographs from the immersive installation of Richard Mosse in collaboration with cinematographer Trevor Tweeten and composer Ben Frost.

Check my previous post for a short review of his book Infra published from Aperture.

The installation has been hosted by the Vinyl Factory in a London underground car park which created a dark environment suitable for the bright images to be exhibited. The subject thought is not as bright as the images themselves. Mosse has been documenting eastern Congo, focusing on conflict and the impact on local society, but also looking at those behind the trigger. Ben Frost’s soundscape was impressive and absolutely important for the the film to be shown. Congratulations to Richard Mosse for winning the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2014. Below the photographs from the film and the prints.

Picbod13 exhibition | change of plans

Picbod brief
Inspired by some the idea of photographing a display and make it as the pixels show sharp, made change my installation theme. It is still based around the digital as well as the values of the physical artefact, the edition. After some though and experimentation with my new concept I decided I will call it “Analog to digital, Digital to analog and the art of databending.”
Heavily influenced by digital technologies, the internet and it’s social implications, as well as my appreciation for film and the processes involved, I will be combining the two in to one.

Glitch/Databending

Last summer after being frustrated with a Canon 5Dmk2, which was giving me corrupted files, I did a research on it and instead of finding a solution I discovered Glitch Art. A glitch is a short lived computer malfunction. In case of file being corrupted I got files with permanent transformations, that I really didn’t enjoy, but the beauty of these chaotic patterns, with these vibrant colours attracted to find a way to recreate it.

glitched photograph from a Canon 5Dmk2

So I discovered databending, which is similar to circuit bending but with data. Databending is the practice of intentionally causing a file to be corrupted, by simply not doing what you suppose to. Open the file with an editor it was never meant for. The act expresses the non-conformity of our nature, the need to set the bits and bytes free from their proprietary chains. The idea of hacking away something is revolutionary and can be very creative.

Very basic techniques of databending include using Wordpad, Hex editor, text editor, audio editor or even write a bit of code that will perform the bends to the code. Processes for video exist although I haven’t been involved yet.

I have been researching on this topic and it’s relation with art since September. More advanced techniques like cachemash or sonification of data can create very impressive results.

cachemash by eaubscene, on flickr
cachemash by eaubscene, on flickr
hellocatfood(audacity)
image passed through an audio editor. by hellocatfood on flickr

A few links:

GlitchikerGlitchBot(Bit_Synthesis), Glitch Art (flickr group), Precise Mishandling, GLI.TC/H, stAllio!’s way, Rosa Menkman

Were does it all fit with my project?

I decided I want to use such techniques because their results are random and permanent. Although a digital replica can occur, the digital artefact produced is unique. Only after a lot experimentation you might know what to expect, but you never really know what will happen when you replace a few characters in the code, add some text, or even random strings. Still it doesn’t defy the rules of digital politics. If it can be copied, then it is not unique. Sean Carroll explained in his talk, the idea of “fixing the fluid image”. This will be the path for this project. Printing in the darkroom unique editions of these photo manipulations.

The process

Step1
I made some portraits with a 35mm film camera in black & white film. I scanned these in high resolution.

Step2
I took raw (CR2 file) photographs of the images off the display with a Canon 5Dmk2 in order to create new files. Each file has a header that tells the computer of it’s type and origin. The scanned jpegs differ a lot in structure with the ones from a digital camera.

Step3
Imported the new files and then converted the high-res raw files into smaller, easier to manipulate jpegs.

Step4
I bended the code either with Notepad++ or xvi32 Hex editor.

20130307-045224
self portrait

Step5
At this point I brought in the game the Mamiya RB67, a medium format film camera with a 127mm lens and a 80mm extension tube. This gave me the chance to get close enough to see the individual pixels of the screen. I used a 120 roll film, b&w ISO 400. I took a reading from the screen and exposed for 4 seconds at f/32. Obviously times differ when the screen has different brightness or just displaying a darker or brighter image.

Step6

Develop the film and get in the darkroom, produce unique prints.

One branch of this project is the darkroom prints for the physical exhibition and the other is the digital exhibition, which stops at step 4.

What is the message?

I am using these effects produced by the bending of the data to visualize the noise introduced into our lives every single moment by the information overload of the digital media. Every line of corrupted code, is a line visualized by different colour. Every corrupted character represents the signals interfering with us.

When I did these portraits I didn’t explain the reason behind them. I didn’t want to affect the subjects in any way… Well this is relevant. The fact that they all look at the camera is because I asked them for a portrait.

This project is going to be an installation at #picbod13 with one or more screens displaying the digital files and next to them the black & white prints.

Feel free to leave your feedback. I will soon be posting more material on this project.

Jannis Kounellis | Γιάννης Κουνέλλης

Last time I visited an exhibition was in Tate Modern. I went to see Kusama’s retrospective exhibition where I combined it with Alighiero Boetti’s “Game Plan”. Highly intrigued by his conceptual work within the Arte Povera movement I went on to an exhibition of a Greek conceptual artist, Jannis Kounellis. Even though called the patriarch of Arte Povera it wasn’t the reason that led me to his exhibition, but the purpose this brand new installation served.

Jannis Kounellis installation 1

While the situation in Greece is something new to Kounellis, it is not unfamiliar. He left Greece in 1956 due to the consequences of the on-going political clashes. Kounellis went to Rome where he studied Fine Art. Later was introduced to the Arte Povera movement which was not so known till the late 60’s. Its literal meaning is poor art. Arte Povera was a modern art movement, which had a different stance towards the establishment of the government, the industry and culture.

Jannis Kounellis installation 4

Kounellis has introduced new materials in the movement such as fire, gold, bed frames, windows, smoke even live animals and performing people. Each one of the materials symbolised something particular in his work.

As in previous installations he deliberately questions the contemporary way of living. By using antithetical media and juxtaposition in his works expresses the tension and alienation in our society. I guess he always wanted to express his feelings in that manner for Greece.

His exhibition in the Museum of Cycladic Art was not a collection of previous works. Brand new works, inspired by the issues haunting Greece for the past four years, made by local material found in flea markets and junkyards of Athens. Old and used materials, like marble and coal, burlap sacks and newspapers, hats and overcoats, shoes and soil not only served as the media for the message but as the media carrying the history and memories of a city and its people. Combining them resembled the process of putting pieces of a puzzle together, which ultimately presented the issues that currently strike the people of Greece, have roots deep in the past.

Jannis Kounellis installation 6

Resources:

The Guardian
Tramway
Guggenheim
Frieze Magazine
Museum of Cycladic Art
Tate Modern