Alexander Scrimgeour on “im / possible images”
In 2015, following investigations into the outages and digital disruptions that had resulted in its 2010 Manifesto of glitch studies, artist Rosa Menkman embarked on a period of research focused on “how resolutions inform both artificial vision and human perception”. These happened in the 2020 book Beyond resolution, his epigraph âRefuse to let the syntaxes of (a) history direct our future. Menkman’s practice may have its roots in the post-Internet art scene of the early 2000s, but it has always been guided by a para-academic enthusiasm for artistic research into the technical limits of the (digital) image. and their consequences. In 2019, Menkman obtained a residency at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, in the suburbs of Geneva. Her recent exhibition project in Munich was in part a way of reflecting on the responses of CERN scientists to a question she posed: âImagine that you could get an impossible image, of any object or phenomenon that you think is important, without no limit to spatial, temporal, energy, signal, noise or cost resolutions, what image would you create? The question underpinned the structure of this collective exhibition, entitled “images im / possible”, where colored bands on the floor and on the walls delimited axes which offered both orientation and demonstrated the artist’s penchant for taxonomy.
So an original x-ray – a once impossible image – of Wilhelm RÃ¶ntgen, shown here on a magazine page from 1896, was on the “im / possibility chronologies” axis with Pale blue dot, a photograph of our tiny Earth taken from a distance of 3.7 billion miles by the Traveler 1 spacecraft in 1990, and a recent example of 3D medical imaging making visible the inside of a wrist. Another axis, “Images Based on Speculation, Disbelief or Imagination” featured a 2017 work by Ingrid Burrington in which the quote FOREVER NOON ON A CLOUDLESS DAY aptly described the adjacent satellite imagery of the globe, revealing the absence of night and inconsistent shadows in the satellite images, as well as those of Susan Schuppli Can the sun lie?, 2014-15, a discursive video essay on the changes in position of the setting sun in the Arctic detected by First Nations peoples and their connection to climate change and the history of photography as evidence. One of the highlights of the âlow fidelity imagesâ section was that of Peter Edwards Nova Drone, 2012, who created a flickering rainbow via the âroller shutter effectâ when visitors attempted to photograph the banal-looking LED light atop this wall installation.
Two works in the exhibition were those of Menkman: Pink ragged hologram, 2021 – a voiceover of corrupting an NFT, the title flower, ending with the repeated warning “This rendering may populate fungible strains” – and Bleaching, 2020, which offered a conceptual framework for the exhibition and was projected in a large space enclosed by curtains. Here, Menkman chronicles the loss of sensory reference points as she climbs a mountain during a snowstorm. In the extended blind footage, all we see is an off-white rectangle. As the camera continues to pixelate this fluctuating plane of supersaturated grays, a GPS point tracks movement and we hear the hum of a device making electromagnetic radiation humanly audible. Menkman, in voiceover, switches to a tutorial-like excursus on the question she posed to CERN scientists before the video switches to another episode of autobiographical storytelling involving a road leading to “a pillar of light peeking through the sky. over the edge of a mountain. . . shines with immense intensity âat a solar power plant in California’s Mojave Desert. The whiteout is theorized with hindsight with a riff on lines, scales and reterritorialization.
This collision of rationalism with the sublime reoccurred over and over again throughout the show, pointing to a sort of mysticism that constantly creates tension between a serious scholar and a more hesitant, broken, and magnificent emotional and linguistic register. If lyricism was unmistakably present here, it seemed, fascinatingly, unfinished, as if its full unfolding was prevented by an allegiance to the performative conference format which I suspect has to do with the implicit codes of artistic research. , âMedia artâ and educational intentions. In another artistic tradition, the silence of the monochrome could subcontract its exegesis and speak for itself.