The Austrian multimedia artist Peter Kogler is one of the pioneers of computer-generated art. With his impressive 360-degree multi-projection on show at the Schirn
from July 1 to September 12, 2010, the artist, whose work was included in two documenta programs, creates a space of illusion that completely captivates the observer. Lines of a uniform grid lose their fixed coordinates and stretch into a play of amorphous figures. All the projected elements undergo a continuous transformation of their specific structure and thus make the room vibrate visually. Sound elements by sonic artist Franz Pomassl contribute to this vibration. The sound produced by home-made devices and instruments from measurement technology and other research fields develops into a sculptural experience in Koglers installation. The observer feels the ground disappear from under his feet.
Born in Innsbruck in 1959 and living in Vienna, the multimedia artist Peter Kogler has fundamentally changed our perception of the exhibition space in the course of the past twenty years by making it an integral part of his work. His installations turn the three dimensions of space into a pictorial surface: silkscreen print wallpapers or projections of organic elements, pipes, or interlaced forms cover facades, overgrow walls, and take possession of the floor. Like nearly no other present-day artist, Kogler finds formative pictorial codes for a world increasingly determined by data flows and electronic paths and links this visualization with a physical experience of disorientation.
For his installation in the Schirn, the artist relies on 12 projectors to cover the four walls of a rectangular room with a synchronous merging animation whose initially strictly geometrical grids develop into amorphous structural patterns. The fixed coordinates of the room seem to vanish, and the observer feels the walls liquefying into organic movements. The Austrian sonic artist Franz Pomassls acoustic elements extend the visual perception of the space by offering a powerful sound experience. The observer comes to imagine himself amidst an audio-visual superstructure that apparently suspends the room he moves in.
Peter Koglers first videos and projections based on images changed and processed by means of a computer date from 1999. The act of transferring the two- into the three-dimensional was preceded by a continuous transformation of the artistic process of creation: in the late 1970s and early 1980s a group of young artists stood their ground against the overpowering presence of the Junge Wilde painters with their post-performative work. Koglers performance 5-minütige Ausstellung (5-minute exhibition) in 1979, in which he, standing on his head and crossing his legs in the lotus position illuminated by a construction light, imitated the form and outline of an indoor palm without any clothes on, already emphasized the significance of his gestural-symbolic approach and marked the beginning of the young artists exhibition activities.
For his pictorial solutions Kogler has systematically relied on his well-known ant, pipe and brain motifs, which have been part of his works consistent vocabulary since the early 1980s. These motifs reflect the artists study of semiotics, a theoretical approach quite popular in the 1970s and 1980s. They offer a basis for conveying meanings and functions of information and information flows and provide Kogler with ideal metaphors for the correspondences manifesting themselves between the individual and the social collective. Ant, pipe, and brain are matchlessly polyglot. Each is a clear and universal sign in its way. After realizing the motifs in the form of drawings and cardboard objects, Kogler came to transfer them into space after his return from a stay in Los Angeles in the early 1990s. The motif of the ant, printed on wallpaper, saw its first translation into three dimensions when Jan Hoet invited Kogler to develop a work for the entrance situation of the documenta IX.
In 1995, Kogler developed an equally impressive environment for his exhibition in the Vienna Secession: also printed on wallpaper, black-and-white pipes in different forms spread across the walls of the exhibition room. The distribution of the pipes, which crossed and overlapped, swelled and diminished, made it almost impossible to visually grasp the space in its architectural boundaries. All coordinates seemed to merge and to have become adjustable. Simultaneously, the elements austerity and precision created a peculiarly matter-of-fact, yet highly aesthetic atmosphere. By radically repeating a single pictorial sign, Kogler succeeded in visually overcoming the architectural boundaries of the space and unfolding a system of signs that could be understood by everybody.
In the following years, Kogler also used this system outside. He varied his motifs to form ever new structures for façade works, such as the one realized on a multi-level parking lot of Viennas airport in 2005, as well as large-format projections and animations on buildings as part of the Paris Nuit Blanche program in 2004 or on the Schauspiel Frankfurt in 2002. Similar to his indoor projects, the architectural constructive boundaries literally merge in the all-over of his façade works and projections, producing a new visual experience. The projection Untitled presented in the Schirn was originally developed for the Kogler retrospective shown in the MUMOK in Vienna in 2008.
Peter Kogler has exhibited his work both nationally and internationally since 1979; his recent presentations include his shows in the MUMOK, Vienna (2008), at the 50th Biennale di Venezia (2006), in the MoMA, New York (2006), at the Shanghai Biennale (2006), and in the Kunsthaus Bregenz (2000). Kogler developed installations for the documenta in Kassel in 1992 and in 1997 and presented his work in the Austrian Pavilion at the 46th Biennale di Venezia (1995). He taught at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna from 1993 to 2006. Since 2008, he holds a professorship at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, where he is head of the graphic art class.
The Austrian sonic artist Franz Pomassl studied with Arnulf Rainer at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna and with Peter Kogler at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna, a.o. The artists sound experiments fathom the limits of the human sense of hearing and acoustic perception and aim at extending the range of our auditory experience. Pomassls works comprise electronic and digital experiments in the form of architectural sonic spaces, performances, and radio pieces. Defamiliarizing the spaces he constructs in his installations with specific systems, he envelops the visitor with sound in a manner subverting the latters ability to ascertain his position. Franz Pomassls sound installations have been presented in a number of exhibitions including Frequencies [Hz]. Audio-visual Spaces at the Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt (2002) and shows in the Vienna Secession (2001), the Kunsthaus Bregenz (2000), and P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, New York (2000).