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Inner Space Art
Photo Manipulation Art Work and Commentary
by Wolfgang Schindler

Image Copyrighted by Wolfgang Schindler, all rights reserved.
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After all that’s not been said, I believe that paintings and photographs are not hugely different from one another, only the tools by which they are created differ. The picture on this page View from the Window at Le Gras (taken in the summer of 1826 by Nicéphore Niépce and therefore the world’s oldest surviving photo) shows precisely what Leon Battista Alberti had employed in painting four hundred years earlier: a view from a “ fenestra aperta ”, an open window through which the painter would project an image into the world from his darkened chamber. Even Aristotle is said to have gone into a “ camera obscura ” to observe and sketch a solar eclipse from inside . The really new element in Niépce’s heliography was the fact that the artist creating the projection to be captured was replaced by the photographic process in what was now a “ camera lucida ”, or light-filled room. And from that summer day in 1826, painting was able to gradually start dedicating itself to other duties than simply reproducing reality, as this was immediately adopted by photography, which was inherently suited to the purpose. While photography began transforming the visible world into individual pictures, which now bore witness to times past, painting was released from this burden and moved into the domain of portraying matter that not (yet) was or that remained unseen. Within human perception, paintings became individual and abstract, whereas photography, on its journey around the globe and beyond, showed the visible as it was seen in the instant it was shot. This is still the case today and anyone can see an eclipse without having to leave the house to embark on a long journey. There are now, though, more photographs than people to see them; and yet overproduction in the mass of photos leads to the individual picture being overproduced in the hope that it will be elevated to the visibility of duplication. The eternal present of the moment has, however, been reduced to the hand held out, turning the smart phone with its integral camera on the photographer to put this person’s likeness in the picture as evidence that he or she was present in the moment of the shot (see the cover photo, the original of which is a pornographic selfie ). It is the last authentic gesture, without which a photo is no longer considered credible, as its moment evaporates in subsequent digital processing. This is where painting enters the scene, adapting itself to photography: the viewer goes into a dark chamber once more in order to survey the projection there. At this point I decided to see photos as paintings. My own pictures remain imperfect in that I deny them the presence of the moment in which they were created, fixing this presence anew every time my gaze falls on them. That is the only way I can remember, as the act of remembering cannot be compared with opening a book to a certain page, but is more like looking through a telescope at far away celestial bodies: we look back in time, but time also changes and repeatedly shows us a different form when we again take up the telescope to visualize it. Only the light itself does not age, it knows no permanence, which is why we cannot see it, but only its effect. This is the origin of the myth, though, that a moment exists that is both irretrievable and visible for all time. The legend of photography is now reaching its natural end; after all, if even a child can change a photo that has just been taken with a smart phone, the fixed moment is not authentic at all, but only a result of its particular present and of how it is perceived. As, however, the present lingers, the image drops back into the river of its own techniques, which is now flowing towards the ocean of painting. Along the coast lie ports for digital processing and archiving, where the quadrillions of photographs wait to be shipped to the old world of the paintbrush and palette. The “ photographed god ” foreseen by the brothers Edmond and Jules de Goncourt in their journal in November 1861, is long dead. Nevertheless, to retain his topicality, the pictures of him must be repainted again and again, so that they can be shown on his celebration days. A picture does not say more than a thousand words; it says as little as looking out of an open window. The beholder talks to himself in the moment; when he has seen what the weather is like or what the other people are doing, he falls silent and draws the curtains. Later he will maybe remember what has been said, but outside the window the world will be a different one. Only photography can bring back words, even if they lose their meaning in the process. The content of a photo is then also lost, which is why it is legitimate to add a new one to it. I wanted to achieve this by obscuring the photos shown here, thereby depriving their contents of their individuality. The people no longer have a face, the objects lose their edges and the surrounding landscape now only shows waste ground beneath empty skies. That is where it ends: people become dolls and objects clouds before they disappear, but the sky and the earth will always form a landscape. I did all that to remind myself of moments that I did not experience, and to look at myself through the eyes of others. I don’t know why other people take photos; I do it to put distance between myself and the world and, despite this distance, to be able to study everything in it. It is a trick that I have grown tired of, so I rest by looking at the curtains blowing and the rain running down the window pane. I need this balm in my photographs too (and in those that others took for me), so I use a digital noise filter , which adjusts each pixel of a digital or digitalized photo to the central value of all surrounding pixels within a definable radius. My photos appeal to me like this, and there’s nothing more I want.

 

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