acrylic on fine art print, 29,7 x 42 cm
Herbert Marshall McLuhan (1911-1980) was a Canadian philosopher. His work is one of the cornerstones of the study of media theory. McLuhan coined the expression "the medium is the message" and the term "global village", and predicted the World Wide Web almost 30 years before it was invented.
"The medium is the message" is a phrase introduced in McLuhan's book "Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man", published in 1964. McLuhan proposes that a medium itself, not the content it carries, should be the focus of study. He said that a medium affects the society in which it plays a role not only by the content delivered over the medium, but also by the characteristics of the medium itself.
For McLuhan, it was the medium itself that shaped and controlled "the scale and form of human association and action." Taking the movie as an example, he argued that the way this medium played with conceptions of speed and time transformed "the world of sequence and connections into the world of creative configuration and structure." Therefore, the message of the movie medium is this transition from "lineal connections" to "configurations."
As society's values, norms, and ways of doing things change because of the technology, it is then we realize the social implications of the medium.
Already in the early 1960s, McLuhan wrote that the visual, individualistic print culture would soon be brought to an end by what he called "electronic interdependence": when electronic media replaces visual culture with aural/oral culture. In this new age, humankind will move from individualism and fragmentation to a collective identity, with a "tribal base." McLuhan's coinage for this new social organization is the "global village".
Furthermore, McLuhan coined and certainly popularized the usage of the term "surfing" to refer to rapid, irregular, and multidirectional movement through a heterogeneous body of documents or knowledge, e.g., statements such as "Heidegger surf-boards along on the electronic wave as triumphantly as Descartes rode the mechanical wave."
Isabella Til’s work "McLuhan" refers to and honors the studies of this far-sighted but since the 80's somewhat forgotten media theoretician. Every sheet that would never have been created without a computer and digital media integrates and cites various media, which significantly changed people's living together, such as money, printing, electric power, the telephone and the radio up to the computer, world wide web and smartphone.
One could say that the history of the western post-war Germany is closely connected with the history of the VW Beetle at the consumer goods level. It was one of the bestselling cars after World War II and designed with its image as a real „Volkswagen“ as well as composed in its overall marketing structure to fit literally to every citizen. It was produced from 1938 to 2003 and more than 21.5 million cars were sold worldwide. In 1974 VW relocated the beetle production to Mexico. By then the Beetle had already finished its triumphal procession around the world.
While in the post-war German society he started as a vehicle proudly presented as allowing everyone to travel and feel mobile, until the 1970s the Beetle became a student car or the classic second car for the emerging affluent society.
By selecting a spectacular part of a specific VW Beetle as a „pars pro toto“ object trouvé, the work „Gen.Volkswagen“ underscores not only the beauty and myth of design that accompanied a generation, but by the addition of two ink drawings the Beetle parts are spatially and temporally related with questions on female role models of the 60s and the women‘s movement of the 70s.
The bonnet of the 60s (in a very common plain gray color) is accompanied by the drawing of a mother sitting on the edge of a valley with her two little girls (one of whom is the artist). They enjoy the Tyrolean landscape of Fendels , a holiday experience and a female role model as exclusive mother, which they shared with thousands of other western German families of that time. (Interesting in this context is also the fact that until 1958 women of the FRG needed the permission of their husband even for the driver‘s license.)
The second orange VW Beetle rear hood belongs to a „Jeans Beetle“, a special hip Beetle edition, which was launched 1973-75. At that time the Beetle was already a typical student car, as the university sticker shows. At the latest since the American hippie movement, whose favorite car it was, the Beetle also showed a political attitude, here marked by an anti-Nazi-sticker.
The drawing shows a street demo of women. After the student revolts of 1968, the struggle for § 218, which regulated the self-determination of women regarding abortion, again triggered many demonstrations and social discourses until the clause was finally passed in 1975. Since the artist visited a Catholic nuns‘ school in Northrhine Westphalia, the drawing, which is based on a real press photo, shows a nun in costume among the debating women. Strangely, her sight today creates the association with a veiled Muslima.
The work combines a general social development with the personal observations of the artist as part of this society - (feminist) themes are visualized with the help of the iconic success product „Volkswagen“ Beetle, since the artist already had an affinity for automobile design as a child and the beetle accompanied this era.
FELIX RINGEL GALERIE
16 February – 21 April 2018
In context of DÜSSELDORF PHOTO, 16-25 February 2018
As at the beginning of the 20th century Kandinsky and the movement Blauer Reiter proclaimed the rejection from naturalism and Duchamp, Dada and Malewitsch stated the end of painting the freedom of artistic means began. Still photography, although already explored to its abstract and cameraless edges by Moholy Nagy or Man Ray during the 1920s, is mostly associated with the expectation of depicting reality.
Present Progressive describes the process of doing while being aware of the past and simultaneously reaching for the future. One can call it extended photography that strives for progress by means of experiments. An idea is developed rather than just reproduced by expressly including digital tools and technologies into the process. Its potential is explored, played upside down and the other way round like a piece of jazz music. It's more of a mindset than a specific style.
The exhibition shows a confrontation of two positions. Michael Reisch develops his radical invers photography starting the photographic work from algorithms rather than reality and then transforming the so found image into sculpture and architecture.
Isabella Til digitalizes her own photo- and watercolor-templates and transforms them into a new rather reduced imagined scenery by integrating in particular the coincidences that arise from the use of digital tools and the computer program. The work examines three-dimensionality and light in the image by using a minimal canon of form and colour. Her templates cover a period of about thirty years and the resulting digital collages intentionally point to constructivism or early experimental photography. The exploration of the possibilities of abstract representation of light and space becomes an issue. The overpainting of the final print offers further possibilities to either intensify or disturb the compositional structure by creating another sensual and spatial level. The multiple layers create spatial correlations – subtle and transparent or strict and graphic. The work also responds to photography and painting under digital conditions.
Area s/w, series 6
acrylic on paper, 50 x 40 cm
"The original handmade image is digitally deconstructed and, like writing a text, is rebuilt by using different streams of consciousness thus different visual samples at the same time. By integrating coincidence and the possibilities of the digital tool I try to produce a new and interesting structure that generates a new reality. Like in painting one decision leads to another but in contrast to conventional forming processes steps partly can be reversed until the process is stopped and the work of the sequence is found."
Area s/w, series 1, acrylic on paper, 32 x 24 cm
FELIX RINGEL GALERIE
2 September – 22 October 2016
Ross Bleckner, Jonathan Lasker, Peter Halley, Imi Knoebel , Sabine Moritz, Franz Baumgartner, Max Streicher, Adolf Luther, Isabella Til, Martin Golland, Pascal Sender
Dessau, fine art print on uncoated paper, acrylic, on alu dibond, 81 x 63,5 cm
The things surrounding us are subtly talking to us. Their pure presence creates an auratic influence on us. The existence of things in human society documents social development as well as personal conditions.
I picked some of them in order to catch the characteristics in a drawing. In my very personal selection I was lead by free association and connection with these items. Although photography would have been stronger in detail, for me it was more accurate to explore these things the way I did. By doing so I could shortly save them from endless stream of decay and forgetting. In this process they became a sort of private encyclopedia of things.
Interesting thoughts to the topic of ”transmission“ I found in the book Die schrecklichen Kinder der Neuzeit (Suhrkamp 2014) by German philosopher Peter Sloterdijk. There he examines history and progress of western postrevolutionary society where continuity of transition from one generation to the other has faded at the beginning of 21st century. In his opinion the individuum of modern society is left to a supposed freedom while society is uncontrollably ”falling“ forward. He discribes the sources and the impact of a uncertainty of origin for a society whose inhabitants he called ”new bastards“. They act in flat organised systems that constanly change, sending and receiving at the same time. Here a ”heritage“ seems to be less attractive and static.
Other parallel thoughts according to the project I dicovered in a collection of still actual essays called Mythologies – Mythen des Alltags written 1957 by French philosopher Roland Barthes. He examined the tendency of contemporary social value systems to create modern myths. Barthes also looked at the semiology of the process of myth creation concluding that every object, idea, picture or text could become a myth.
The collection of alsmost fifty res narrandi is telling historical stories of a generation, but also very personal ones of where I was and what I found on my way. Thus a miniature golf ticket stands equal beside a Leica camera, a basketball tricot or a Churchill drinking cup.
FELIX RINGEL GALERIE
12 - 27 February 2016
res narrandi, charcoal, colour pencil and pencil on paper, 29,7 x 42 cm (choice from fifty works)
REFLECT I.T., selected self portraits made in analogue photo-technique between 1988-2001, book project
"Can a photograph carry the feeling and memory of an exact situation? What gives you the impulse to take a picture? For whom do you perform? How will you look at the pictures from a temporal distance? What does it mean for other people? Can one recognize a life pattern in mere pictures? Can they help to understand yourself?
For years and years I just kept on photographing as I started looking at the world through a lens in Folkwang School.
After taking the developed films from the lab, I spend a gorgious time putting the small prints into groups and forming hierarchies and layouts, daydreaming of exhibition walls that would be like a page in a book. It was the heritage of student times in Essen. I was familiar with the work of Nan Goldin, but only much later I heard about Wolfgang Tillmanns. It was in the air, in the music in free life.
I did not only take pictures of myself, but somehow I kept on returning to this very private motive. It was a secret dialogue I kept to myself. (Important side notice: when you are directing a photo lens of an analogous camera on a stretched arm to yourself you never see anything nor know which kind of details will be on the film!)
Finally in those days there was always work or life waiting to be done and I sealed all the contact sheets, prints and negatives into boxes with the feeling that this archive might become interesting at some point in my life. With the rising of the digital camera technique I stopped this dialogue and, funny enough, those pictures today, about 25 years later, look like common selfies made with a smartphone. Something everybody does at any time, rather normal behaviour, no secret, nothing to hide."
Silkscreens on paper, 60 x 42 cm, photogram on baryta 60 x 42 cm, photography
"It's all about how you look at the world. Examining, finding joy in small things.
In childhood my look was somehow narrowed by the ubiquitous curtains in our house, in every house. So I played with a sort of photographic depth of field to which my eyes enabled me. I focused my view either on the square grid of the curtain itself or on the cut out of the world behind it. The curtain was a protection and an enclosure at the same time. When I entered Folkwang School I slowly got rid of this curtain.
As the silkscreen workshop was always empty, I decided to learn about this craft (that reminded me of Andy Warhol) and realized a couple of serials there. Besides I played the meaning of screen by silkscreening a screen."
Photograms and Collages, on genuine photographic paper Ilfospeed glossy, 29 x 23,5 cm
"I got my first camera 1983, a Canon A1 (which I soon changed for a Nikon), when I started at Folkwang School. Initially I thought that I would draw and paint there. That was my passion. But every student had to do photography aswell as the photogaphers had to draw. That was the concept.
Photography touched me directly and for 2 years I spend most of the day in our well-equipped photo lab. It was so fascinating what you could do, even just in the darkroom. In the same year, in April, I had finished high school. I was a bit sad that I couldn't leave the town for some more exciting place. But then Essen was going to be interesting with all these funky students from allover. And the best was that everybody wanted to do art.
Prof. Inge Osswald (a former assistant of famous Otto Steinert) was a figure of great respect and wisdom to me, a woman somehow asexual and objective like I imagined a female Moholy-Nagy. Through my art course in high school I was very well educated in art history and very impressed by constructivism.
One day I did a series of photograms, with carefully prepared templates, which were inspired by Theo van Doesburg. All grey constructivism. She took them for her collection. I was honoured but still thought of all the work in the darkroom."
Analog black-and-white photography, genuine photographic prints on Ilfospeed glossy, 29 x 23,5 cm (selection)
"The coal area opened up and in my mind turned out to be as funky but not as dangerous as NYC. I explored so many places and got lost on purpose with my red Renault 4: Altenessen, Oberhausen, Duisburg, Gelsenkirchen. I hung out with the photographers because they were wild, cool and partying. I learned a lot about taking care on ones resposibility of the subjective view as a photographer and also about the importance of subline texts in magazines while being a guest in the course of Prof. Angela Neuke, a couragous woman, who was always fighting with her mostly male students. She brought people like Larry Fink and Garry Winogrand for lectures."