Friday, July 31, 2009

The An-Archic Device (2009)

Media Sculpture by Tobias Rosenberger

Realized in Mexico-City at the Centro Multimedia del Centro Nacional de las Artes in the framework of the 1. Mexico scholarship for German Media artists (Goethe Institut Mexico + Werkleitz Gesellschaft Halle)

That is how we sorcerers operate. Not following a logical order, but following alogical consistencies or compatibilities. The reason is simple. It is because no one, not even God, can say in advance whether a given multiplicity will or will not cross over into another given multiplicity, or even if given heterogeneous elements will enter symbiosis, will form a consistent, or cofunctioning, multiplicity susceptible to transformation.

Deleuze & Guattari

The An-Archic Device is something between toy theatre, street altar and peepshow: a small-scale stage model, a blinking auto
mata, an audio-visual machine, that produces physical and anarchic dissociation by means of laughter.

Based on Antonin Artauds theater manifesto „The Conquest of Mexico“, The An-Archic Device deals with Mexico as a space of otherness and as a subjective heterotopia. Following Artaud, Mexico becomes the playground for an examination of danger and fear along the site, where each subject is set back to its self in its relation to the world.
A ten pesos coin starts the device.
(revolving stage with four different sets, moving lightrig with leds, 2 loudspeakers, deconstructed screen, small objects, computer)

Voice: Mónica Alcántar
Dramaturgical Advice: René Rothert
Mechanics: Yurián Zerón
Video-Performance: Juanpablo Avendaño y Cuauhtémoc Sentíes Rascón.
Music: Matthias Mohr (intro) + Arthur Henry Fork
Animation Codex Cospi: René Liebert

Exhibited from 30.06 until 31.07 in Mexico-City in the Galería A/B del CENART (solo).

During my residency at Centro Multimedia I created a physical (theatre) model, that is based on Artauds text “THE CONQUEST OF MEXICO”.

As a new media artist I am interested in models and simulations for quite a long time. With my background in theatre studies I am familiar with the notion of „mimesis“ as used by Aristotle, who has influenced strongly the reception of theatre over the centuries and still does so until today. His notion of „mimesis“ extends the „pure“ domain of theatrical embodiment, since it is a matter of the question, how the human being achieves knowledge, and how it tries to take possession of the world.
Humans develop models, to get a better understanding. The approach to work with models / simulations is obvious in all areas of life, be it in the education sector, Corporate Design, warfare, soccer strategy or risk analysis. Models simplify, isolate, sharpen – they are „theses“, that have to be set, to cross the lines of Chaos. At the same time models operate in the mode of „exclusion“, because they necessarily have to select. It is this ambivalence, that gains my interest regarding the materiality of physical models, and regarding the texts by Antonin Artaud.

This physical model is integrated in a display cabinet, whose frontside is composed of a cheap deconstructed 15“ LC-TFT-Display, that is separated from its backlight and whose transparency allows the spectator to look through them.

This is a technology I used first during the work for „Cold Lights“, an interactive audiovisual installation about bioluminescence, chemiluminescence and fluorescence for Luminale Frankfurt 2008 (CL is a collaboration with René Liebert and Maximilian Haas).

The Liquid Crystalls of such displays are light ventils, that are regularly opened. If you provide it with enough voltage, the molecules become arranged along the lines of force and loose their ability to turn light. As an enduser you get the first effect if you send white pixels via Vga/Dvi-Cable, the second with black pixels (or other colors). The Displays are not emitting light by themselves, but need extra backlight.
Hacking the screen:

First tests december 2007 with metallic objects, grey fabrics and lights behind
the display:

During the standby-modus of the installation you do listen to a looped audiotrack (8 minutes) based on the first part of Artaud's manifesto, which announces the play (Voice: Mónica Alcántar, Music: Matthias Mohr). After you put 10 pesos into the coinslot, the second part of the text is staged inside the display cabinet with the means of theatre, according to the four acts of the text (WARNING SIGNS / CONFESSION / CONVULSIONS / ABDICATION, alltogether 12 minutes).
A computercontrolled rotating wheel is synchronized with different lighting moods (dimmable Leds, CCFLs inside the display cabinet), different videos and the music (electro-acoustic composition by Arthur Henry Fork, based on Artaud's notes), and reveals four different stage settings.

While the lights highlight specific parts of the the stage settings and make the videocontent on the panels visible, the transparent displaypanels do provide another layer of information and aesthetics, which is used consciously in the interplay of all elements. Small video windows appear and support specific perspectives, speech becomes subtitled. Charts and Animations influence the perception, of what is behind them, while colors and surroundings generate particular moods.
The final result is a multilayered and hybrid theatre model, a subjective and 3-dimensional approximation, that not only re-enacts Artauds theatrical examination of “Mexico” on a small scale as a model drama, but that – via various conjunctions and permanently changing perspectives - at the same time reflects the general model character of our thinking.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Leaving Mexico / Arriving where?

In Mexico, since we are talking about Mexico, there is no art: things are made for use. And the world is in perpetual exaltation. To our disinterested and inert idea of art an authentic culture opposes a violently egoistic and magical, i.e., interested idea. For the Mexicans seek contact with the Manas, forces latent in every form, unreleased by contemplation of the forms for themselves, but springing to life by magic identification with these forms. And the old Totems are there to hasten the communication.
Antonin Artaud

Yesterday I arrived in Germany, so it might be now the time to make a short resume about the last ten weeks, that I spent in Mexico, developing „The An-Archic Device“ as far as I could, following the text „The Conquest of Mexico“ by Antonin Artaud.
When I was interviewed some days ago by Mexican TV station Canal 22, there have been two questions, that I hadn't thought of before, but that seem really self-evident. The first was, how I dealt with violence in Mexican society, and the second was, how I percepted the differences of Mexican culture to European Culture.
Retrospective I have to say, that the first two, three weeks of my stay have been overshadowing and forming my perception of this country / culture. The cultural differences never became a big focus for me, since while I was directly stumbled into a state of emergency, I found myself in a situation, where everybody seemed to be in the same boat. Today it is easy to smile at these days, but I think we will not forget these moments of insecurity, where nobody really was knowing what will be happening next. There was a big amount of fear within everybody, and it took quite some time until these reservoirs became released again. It was quite an interesting experience to do some self-observation, when the social life slowly started to reappear. Together the people helped each other, to get rid of the traces of their paranoid dispositions, while humor became an always helpful agent. I was told before that there are serious problems with crime and violence in Mexico, but luckily, moving a lot through the city, I didn't notice them myself. Also, in the media the influenza replaced all other topics / problems in the first weeks (a lot of people I spoke to supposed that the government also used the influenza partly as an instrument of propaganda, to push the national problems aside, a few weeks before the big elections, that actually take place today). I realized a lot of social differences within the Mexican society (you just have to compare in the afternoons the people that use the metro and the people that go by car), huge gaps regarding education, income and living quality, certainly latent traces of racism against the “native” population, but alltogether Mexico seemed not to be very alien to me in these days. Most people I dealt with (people from the Centro Multimedia, artists and curators) also had a lot of international experience, and I became once more assured, that we as artists in a global community are very privileged, but that there is also a big responsibility.

The time I spent in Mexico was not enough to finish my sculpture, what you can see in the Galeria A/B until the end of this month is kind of a status quo, but I am quite happy with it as it is now. The mechanics, fully workable only since this Thursday, are still not connected at this moment, and you will only see a basic draft of one of the four acts if you input a ten pesos coin (length about 5 minutes), but I think it is surely worth the effort to visit the installation in the Galeria A/B. Right now I continue to work on it in Germany. I think I need another 2-3 weeks to finish all the different parts, to make the final edit of my video footage and to do the computerprogramming of the different lighting moods and the mechanical movements. While I was reading a lot in Artauds texts during the first half of my residency, I spent the second half to create and collect all the different parts. Now finally comes the most fruitful and interesting time, where I go back to Artaud and connect all my different material with some of the ideas, that I extracted out of his writings.

Theatrically, the problem is to determine and harmonize these lines of force, to concentrate them and extract suggestive melodies from them. These images, movements, dances, rites, these fragmented melodies and sudden turns of dialogue will be carefully recorded and described as far as possible with words, especially for he portions of the spectacle not in dialogue, the principle here being to record in codes, as on a musical score, what cannot be described in words. (Artaud)

I really liked the idea to create an object, that is “made for use” instead for contemplation, and to look out for the forces / possibilities of the materials that I decided to use, instead of using them only as an additional support for the expression of vain artistic ideas.

A distinction must be made between two types of science, or scientific procedures: one consists in “reproducing”, the other in “following”. [...] following is not at all the same thing as reproducing, and one never follows in order to reproduce. [...] One is obliged to follow when one is in search of the singularities of the matter, or rather of a material, and not out to discover a form; (Deleuze & Guattari)

Last but not least I also want to thank all the people who did great support so far (most notably Sebastian and Dr. Naether from the Goethe Institut, my host Eusebio, and the people from the Centro Multimedia, Omar, Cuauhtémoc, and all the others), and also all the artists / friends that I collaborated with for this project (Dyan, Juanpablo, René, Yurian, Monica, Matthias + René).