E. Stocker English
In his famous essay on perspective, Erwin Panofsky analysed the method of renaissance representation of space in relation to the anthropocentric conception of the individual regarding the world and its reality. Lineal perspective was “invented” as a new way of representing space on the basis of a geometric diagram that set the ground for representation during the Renaissance period, after quests and speculations inspired by formulas that were partially used in Ancient times. Having overcome the medieval abstract speculations, the lineal perspective as a method –scientific, calculable- of space representation –a centralised,
dimensioned space- implied, as Panofsky reminds us, a specific conception of the renaissance individual regarding his environment, in regard to the world.
As a result of a convergence between science and art similar to that which gave birth to the Renaissance perspective in its period, we should ask about the transformations that are being introduced by contemporary digital technologies in the representation of space and –following Panofsky- in the way we understand our reality and we are situated as individuals in it. Nowadays we can talk of new “spatial representations” that are part of our everyday life: menus of functions on a computer screen, programme selectors on the TV, navigation maps in cars, etc. These “representations” introduce new formulas for articulating space and its perception. These are representations based on images –virtual/real images- and juxtaposed texts in a discourse that has its paradigm in the internet hypertext, which does not have the linear narrative of the classic text, but can be accessed and allows to link to other document-images in any required order, without an established hierarchy, all being in infinite interconnectivity. We are forced witnesses of a new organisation and perception of space.
The work of Esther Stocker (South Tyrol, 1974) who works with a large variety of different media including painting, sculpture, photography and installations could be defined at first reading as geometric art heiress to the Constructivist avant-gardes of thetwenties, as well as of the illusionist techniques of Op Art of the sixties. Following some of the formal guidelines of these movements, her work is essentially based on the representation on reticular surfaces of geometric elements related with each other by their segments related with each other by their segments, plants and lines. Schemes reduced to white, black and grey (eventually in combination with any basic colour), based on repetitive chequered rhythms, or with intersections and juxtapositions arranged in sequence. Many of the first works of Stocker are paintings on canvases can be seen forming sequences: the small fragment of a form that slowly and progressively is displacing itself, a chromatic tone –black, white, grey- that increases or decreases…And on each of these paintings, in each of their series, the spectator perceives the slight modifications of the represented space.
In this interest for the illusive play of the represented space, the artist starts to experiment with other formats. The series of photographs of painted hand palms, fists and arms on a black background, or the calligraphic lines made with black adhesive tape applied directly on the wall with small variations of rhythmic forms, are all exercises where Stocker manages, with a minimum amount of resources –black on white, the body or the wall as a support- to achieve a radical rearrangement in that referring to the perception of space.
This process of experimentation that always follows the guidelines of geometry as a maximum exercise of formal reduction soon led the artist to become interested in architecture as a new challenge. After some interventions on two-dimensional surfaces (on an industrial silo in Innsbruck in 2001, or on the interior walls of a public building in Graz in 2003), we see an interesting transformation and we start to find works where she now does not pretend the illusive perception of space, but she intervenes in real space to act on it and modify it. From this point, each of the artist’s interventions will be clearly predetermined by the characteristics of a specific space and in every new intervention a new space will be configured somehow.
Recently, Esther Stocker has carried out an intervention in one of the rooms of the Museum modernerKunstStiftungLuwdwig (MUMOK) in Vienna. Hundreds of black bars of different heights protruded from ceiling, floor and walls and invited the visitor to participate in the experience of a new “real space”, formed by a network of lines that seemed to be able to extend into the infinite. The form of “geometrisation” of space that already characterised the Renaissance representation is still guiding contemporary space, although the structure of this now, lie that of the internet is no centralised, but formed by a network of non-hierarchised elements that can potentially be extended into the infinite.
A revealing aspect of the most recent works of Stocker (as it could also be seen in her intervention in the Krobath gallery of Berlin in May of this year) is that the photographs that document the spaces where the artist intervenes seem to be images of “Augmented Reality” (AR), which is how we define images that with the aid of digital technology overprint virtual parts on a true image. The photographs that document the interventions of Esther Stocker seem to be images from a virtual space, as if they had been manipulated or touched up on a computer. That way, reality and virtuality become confused: reality seems appearance, becoming just the opposite process to that of the classical pictorial representation of space.
Translation: Nigel Greenwood
RevistaLápiz 280. November 2013