“History is only the gradual recoding of pictures in concepts by the gradual explanation of images, by the consecutive loss of magic, by the consecutive process of understanding. In case the texts become unimaginable then there is nothing left to be explained and the history is at the end.” (Vilém Flusser, Beyond the philosophy of photography)
Visual situation programs
The central theme of the painter Peter Dub is an interest in the kind of field of spectatorial experience face to face with the painting. The author looks for the routes and crossroads where the visual (re) presentation is structured and matched. The spatial layout of the installation area, its colour composition and shape layout co-generate coded information with several layers of meanings. The principle of similar programming of the exhibition is the effort to manipulate the spectator experience and to attempt our cognitive abilities. In the different parts of the installation, we can ask ourselves what is the motor of transcription of the visual form into the verbal experience? Whether this verbalization is needed? And if it is at all desired in the immediate interpretation of art?
The tool of this survey for Petr Dub is the communication medium of the exhibition, the compilation of artefacts in a locally specific space-time composition. In the intentions of the author’s software, he examines the limitations of real world abstraction and the follow-up interpretation of contemporary abstract painting through programmed visual situations.
#cave #outofthebox #programming
The program is a software written in the programming language into the black box of the device. Programming is the activity of programmers who, by their own input, let the machine generate the function of program-controlled outputs. If we are not programmers, the programmed output is the only recognizable reality for us.
The analysis, deconstruction, the writing of his own algorithm, and the hint of discovering the mechanisms of the abstract painting interpretation program, has already been attempted in two previous projects: YTILAERBOX and Spaces between Images by Petr Dub. The first one referred to the concept of man’s epistemic situation interpreted in Plato’s parable about the cave (exhibition YTILAERBOX, Regional Gallery of Fine Arts in Zlín, 2017) and the other elaborated the interpretation potential of the abstract image in the context of Rorschach’s personality test combined with the intermediate shift between painting and industrial photography (Spaces between Images, Třinec City Gallery, 2017). In both projects, the author developed a combination game with image bits – basic units of the painting information (format, position, shape, colour, medium). While in Plato’s “reality box” Petr Dub developed forms of loss and decomposition of information in the process of designing, in the latter case, he thematized the shifts between the subjective projection of the individual view of the viewer to a painting object combined with elements of commercial realistic photography. Both approaches can be read as a variation of the Rorschach test, whose principle is based on the analysis of the psychological profile of the personality using colour stains. Similarly to Rorschach’s test, the author does not read the direct interpretation of the viewer but is interested in his ability to read the spaces between the pictures. The space is just as important as the specific information. Mutual compilations and pre-set patterns of points, losses and gaps change common information clusters and co-create (read “program”) new positions of reading.
The lost and the found
The trajectory of thought on the boundary between philosophy, theory, and free artistic creation of Petr Dub is in a constant motion, yet he keeps a clear ideological consistency. Because of the previous two projects, there is a certain type of serialism that is not unique in the current practice of visual art. YTILAERBOX and Spaces between Images implies that “something continues” here: “a system of non-specific information”. Despite the autonomy of the individual exhibition situations, in both projects there is a certain correlation defined by the “set of regularities, patterns and horizons of expectation” extending beyond the author’s handwriting. In the Projective Test, there are several features typical of a certain type of “semi-obligatory” or “disturbing” seriality. Whatever ends, some of the hypotheses and states of the previous “fictional worlds” are redefined, instead of “the lost” the new founds are coming, but the core of the question remains: it is possible to interpret the image outside the verbalization tools?
At this moment, new figures of the series enter the Dub’s universe: the guest of the exhibition Zdeněk Porcal and the apparatus of reinterpreted photography. The photographer Porcal, with whom Dub has long been collaborating on both the artistic (REFRAMED) and the commercial (STUDIO FLUSSER) level, is also the author of the photo reports of the previous two projects. In his current exhibition, he actively takes on the role of “servant” of the exhibition documentation and reinterprets the role of documentary photography for the specific space of the Gallery NoD through the wallpaper. A large-format collage of the billboard format reproduces photographs of the installation of Spaces between Images in the City Gallery Třinec. This creates a new type of dynamics between the episodes of the Dub series, which is not only settled in the development of formal principles and questions, but it is a direct quote and an interpretation of the discussed system of the preceding time-space states.
Projective camera test
“…the apparatus does what the photographer wants although the photographer does not know what it is going on inside the apparatus. This is typical of all apparatus functioning: The functionary commands the apparatus by the control of its exterior (input and output) and is controlled by it because it cannot recognize the input. In other words: The functionaries control the game for which they cannot by competent. Kafka.” (Vilém Flusser, Beyond the philosophy of photography)
At first glance, it may seem that photographs can be anonymous, purely mechanical, and reproduce the original situation. However, Dub and Porcal understand the radical interpretative gesture of each individual photographic decision-making process in the photographic record process. The photographer regroups the information frame and the distribution of meaning fields opposite the original physical context of the gallery space and the viewer’s movement and narrows or expands the reading space.
In the intentions of the photographic gesture, the specific choices in the camera-camera combination, necessarily the meaningful intentions, the cultural and social context and the aesthetic preferences of the photographer are applied. Like the patient in the Rorschach test, the author goes through his ideas, i.e. “narratives” or “texts” on the model of reading of the situation and determines the subsequent reading of the new situation through the photographic image format.
Similarly, the photographic apparatus itself is a similar interpretive mechanism. The philosopher Vilém Flusser reveals the authors, on the background of the historical development of the role and form of image, the significance of the technical world of apparatus changing our consciousness and the new social universe. In the immediate relationship between man and the world in the original “magical” thinking (pre-historic, pre-conceptional), according to Flusser’s doctrines, the images were meant to be mediated by the world. However, “instead of representing the world, they conceal it when one eventually begins to live in the function of the images he himself created. (…) Imagination turned into hallucination.” As a rescue, it seemed the strategy of separating “pixels” from surfaces and their organization into linear lines, i.e. script. Thus, the script associated with the development of conceptual thinking is the second-degree abstraction: it is a reduction from the image. One “has gone a step further from the world with the invention of the script. Texts do not mean the world, but the paintings whose curtains are thorn.”
However, this image-text relationship is, in the end, dialectical, and causes images to become more conceptual and texts more imaginative. The culmination of imaginative texts has become scientific texts – those that are virtually unimaginable. To make scientific texts imaginable again, technical images, third-level abstractions were invented; they are products of apparatuses built based on scientific texts. That is why photography – the “technical image” – is the output of scientific texts: the technical picture does not mean the world out there, but the concepts (abstraction of the second degree) or texts describing images (abstraction of the first degree) wedged between man and the world. The apparent mechanical mechanics and automation of the technical picture universe and reproduction, in fact, conceals a powerful manipulative language discourse. Each photo is then projected by the creators of apparatuses and programmers who programmed their processes. Photographer as a functionary of the device program only controls the external settings of the system.
Freedom beyond programs
However, Petr Dub overcomes the unpleasant atmosphere of the theoretical backgrounds, by the belief in the possibility of free visual reading of image configurations. Familiar with the program characteristics of the instrumental basis of visual perception and processing (i.e. with their contextual foundations), he finds new ways of modelling the organization of the experience of the outside world. During the exhibition sequences, he demasks the program. He promotes the program and makes it more legible. It may be this shift of conceptual attention from the output towards the computation that allows the artefacts of space-time constellations to minimize the contamination of the visual experience by conceptual thinking. The space of the gallery thus becomes a space of uncovering of the functions and codes of the cognitive apparatus. Keeping the source code in his hands, the observer abandons himself to a free game of visual characters. Finally, on a pile of foreign words and theoretical concepts, luckily the authentic spectatorial experience plays the role.