Ultra-Thin Ruins

Between All and Nothing at All

Viborg Kunsthal, 2019


catalogue text

The works of Persijn Broersen and Margit Lukács explore the infinitely malleable ultra-thin surface of digital photography in order to contemplate its role in shaping our experience and memory. It produces images pervasively present on screens in almost every aspect of life. The digital photographic image is associated with a set of operations, which have an affinity with forensic and military technology more than ever before.  It is not an image to contemplate, but an image to touch and interact with, as a “passage or a portal, an interface or part of a sequential process—in short, as a cue for action.” While photography with its history as an analogue medium is at the heart of the concepts of document or evidence as an indexical record, in its current state digital photography goes one step further. It becomes a cartographic surface that creates immersive environments and entire worlds. The digital image acquires a very intimate relationship to memory, with an interesting, but illusory promise for a total, perfect capture of objects, which are rendered as ultra-thin shells. Sometimes it is used to capture historical buildings and objects, render them as three-dimensional models and situate them in an environment. The photograph consumes the objects it captures, and renders them available for use in an endlessly malleable spectacle. Arguably, the object itself, precisely because of its translation into a metamorphic object, is different from other types of images; it loses its rigid outline, and in a sense, its definition, it becomes a ruin. Using the figure of the digital ruin Broersen and Lukács contemplate, with a degree of melancholic sentiment, the future of our experience of saturated image-environments and of shaping, or in fact even constructing, our perceptions.

All or Nothing at All, 2019 borrows its title from the famous song performed by Frank Sinatra and composed by Arthur Altman in 1939. It is an eight-minute digital animation based on photogrammetry and assembles together multiplicity of photographs of the medieval town of Viborg, Denmark. The historic site is rendered as a hovering world reminiscent of a film set or a virtual reality gaming world. Everything floats in water with its surface doubled into the surfaces of the streets and the buildings, which appear as soft, liquid and fragmentary. The soundtrack is based on an interpretation of the Sinatra song by a young singer Nina Vadshølt, whose voice is multiplied and rendered as a choir. She was cloned in multiple animated avatars of herself, who dance choreography based on the musical Westside Story (1961). A dancer (Daniel Cilea) performed the dance and her moves were motion-captured and then grafted onto the avatar-singer. The town of Viborg becomes a strange décor for a musical with a dance sequence reminiscent of a fight game between two adversary groups, both composed of the multiple clones of a single character. (excerpt)

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