Combining the media of photography, sculpture, and drawing, the works of Hungarian-born artist Attila Csörgő offer viewers an ironic and humorous introduction to questions of science and technology. The results are often unexpected, amusing, or even poetical. In long-term experiments the artist explores branches of science such as kinetics, optics, or geometry to examine questions of perception; and on this basis he develops his theories about the construction of reality.
His photographs capture sequences of motion or energetic processes, which appear as traces of light, making phenomena visible that, under normal conditions, are not or only barely perceptible to the human eye. While such processes rely on scientific and mathematic calculations, the artist frequently assembles his technological arrangements from everyday objects and materials. Element by element, his transparent systems sharpen our understanding of things we usually take for granted.
The fundamental difference between my work and that of an engineer is that the systems I build are transparent, says Attila Csörgő about his artistic work: And my research, i.e. the processes yielding these results, is open to view. Unlike a computer or other technical devices where we do not know what goes on inside them. I dont build black boxes but try to open up closed systems, at least to a certain degree, even if the mathematical calculations and conceptual considerations behind them are not always visible. My works very obviously combine art and engineering, although what I do is unquestionably art.
For the exhibition at the Vienna Secession
, Attila Csörgő created an experimental Clock-work which continues his examination of light and motion combined. At the interface of visual arts and science, his work on phenomena of perception finds its focus in the lemniscate, the figure eight lying on its side. Both mathematical symbol and poetical shape, the lemniscate is a symbol of infinity shaped like a horizontal 8. What Csörgő has built is a time machine which can be read as a sculpture or a three-dimensional drawing, a moving picture or simply a scientific experiment. If we consider the things that humankind has created, so the artist in an interview: these are mostly very transient phenomena. The forms of mathematics, in contrast, are fairly stable, if not indeed the most stable of all. Their historical distillation endows these mathematical ideas with a noble character. This may be one reason why I like using poor materials to realize my works: it creates a strong contrast between transient thought and concrete material.
Occurrence Graph I (triangle), 1998
Occurrence Graph II (circle), 1998
Occurrence Graph II (lemniscate), 1998
Kinetic wall object; lamp, aluminium disc, electric motor, spinning components, each 67 x 35 x 23 cm.
The Occurrence Graph series is based on the interaction of mutually cooperating graphs. Two black discs pierced by the lines of seemingly meaningless graphs overlap in an area in the shape of a plum-pit which only allows the light of the lamp positioned behind the discs to penetrate when two graphs are congruent. The system can be set in motion with the aid of an electric motor. The motion reveals that the graphs actually form regular geometrical patterns (triangle, circle, lemniscate). The resulting phenomenon is a double or, more precisely, a quadruple one: The rotation enables the graphs on the two discs to cooperate and to achieve, so to speak, a new phase of matter. The stable and seemingly meaningless image that is visible when the discs are not moving is transformed into an ordered one that, however, only seems to be stable, since the discs need to be in motion for it to emerge.*
Photo Tower (trajectory reconstruction), 2008 - 3D print, synthetic resin, 31 x 50 x 5 cm
Photo Tower (trajectory dice), 2008 Lambda print, 120 x 160 cm
The detailed shots in Photo Tower and the simple spatial structure of the construction make it possible to reconstruct the trajectory of the falling dice. The photographs taken from opposite viewpoints are logically complementary and, placed side by side, produce continuous diagrams. When we project the diagrams onto one anotherthis time in virtual spacewith respect to the structure of the tower, then the corresponding intersections of the projective surfaces will reproduce the original spatial curve defined by the luminous spots flight path. In this way, the image of movement turns into a sculpture of movement.*
Clock-work, 1993 Alarm clocks, wooden box, 5.5 x 11.5 x 10.3 cm
Attila Csörgö says about Clock-work: I assembled two traditional, analogue alarm clocks together as one. The clocks gears are joined together in such a way that one mechanism turns the other, resulting in a symmetrical parallel movement: one of the hands is rotating clockwise, while the other hand is turning counter-clockwise. I only used the second hands of the clocks.*
Slanting Water, 1995 B&w photograph, 28 x 40 x 5 cm
Slanting Water shows an ordinary phenomenon under extraordinary conditions. A glass filled with water standing on a table is a fairly ordinary sight. The level of the water (a horizontal plane) and the vertical plane form the basis of our coordinate systemwhat mathematicians describe as coordinate axes. However, while mathematical coordinates can be rotated, our everyday system of coordinates is less flexible. Slanting Water presents the possibility of an alternative system. The explanation for the apparently impossible phenomenon is that the table is revolving, which the photograph does not show.*
Spherical Vortex is the path of a flashlight bulb made by connecting three separate spinning movements of different velocity. Starting from a single point, the light source spirals around an increasing radius to describe a sphere. Having reached its outer limit, the light spirals back to the point/source state. Alongside the moving device, four photographs are on display which were made with different exposures (consecutive or long exposure), revealing the path of light that is invisible to the naked eye.*
Clock-work, 2011 - Kinetic construction; 2 parabolic reflectors, electronic elements, 2 tripods, wooden elements; 11 drawings
Clock-work is the dual projection of a given group of objects, two views of the same assemblage at right angles to each other, appearing as silhouettes on two walls of a room. The subject of the experiment is an amorphous configuration, a strip ending in itself, with one two-dimensional projection showing a circle, the other the symbol of the infinite, the horizontal figure eight or lemniscate. A rod moves along the two-dimensional line of the fixed object, as if it were the hand of a clock, scanning or drawing the figure. There is an emphasis on that the structures used for projecting are not high-tech equipment but the everyday tools of a contemporary non-professional experimenter: a tripod, a simple motor, light, a mirror, a clamp, rods, wires, bolts. Although the experimental structure works mechanically as a professional machine, every bit of the environment bears the marks of its creators hands.**
Attila Csörgő Outline
Attila Csörgő was born in Budapest in1965, where he lives and works nowadays. He studied Painting at the Hungarian University of Fine Arts (1988-94) in Budapest and Intermedia at the Rijksakademie van beeldende Kunsten (1993) in Amsterdam.
Solo exhibitions (selection): 2011 Hamburger KunsthalleGalerie der Gegenwart, Hamburg; 2010 Ludwig Múzeum, Budapest; Domaine de Kerguéhennec, Bignan; Galerija Gregor Podnar, Berlin; 2009 Würfelbahnen und Raumkurven, Museum Folkwang im RWE Turm, Essen.
Group exhibitions (selection): 2011 Wir sind alle Astronauten, MARTa Herford, Herford; Entre le cristal et la fumée, Galerie Poggi & Bertoux Associés, Paris; 2010 Les Promesses du Passé, Centre Pompidou, Paris; Fine Line, Georg Kargl Fine Art & Georg Kargl Box, Vienna; What Happens If?, Storey Gallery, Lancaster; 2009 Musée dŽArt Moderne Grand Duc Jean (MUDAM), Luxembourg; Materialien, Münzsalon, Berlin; Galleria Enrico Astuni, Bologna.