Saturday, July 9, 2016

Kerstin Ergenzinger at Tale of a Tub

Also on view will be Raumtaster by Kerstin Ergenzinger, a subtle perceptual machine that creates constantly changing fields of light that wander across the walls, ceiling and floor taking possession of the exhibition space.
Raumtaster means: space-feeler, space-scanner. You enter a dark concrete underground cellar. At one end there is a light projector. An invisible mechanism makes humming drone sounds as the light moves, brightens and dims. As always I'm reminded of the metaphysical horror of Thomas Ligotti:
As soon as I was standing by the doctor's side he removed a flashlight from the pocket of his overcoat, shining a path into the dark interior of the house. Once inside, that yellowish swatch of illumination began flitting around in the blackness. It settled briefly in a cobwebbed corner of the ceiling, then ran down a blank battered wall and jittered along warped floor moldings. For a moment it revealed two suitcases, quite well used, at the bottom of a stairway. It slid smoothly up the stairway banister and flew straight to the floors above, where we heard some scraping sounds, as if an animal with long-nailed paws was moving about.
An ingenious mechanism of computer controlled motors produces an ever-changing beam of light. With each small variation of light the experience of the space changes dramatically. A fascinating experience.
The strange underground location transforms a conceptual artwork into a mysterious ritual. What is really happening here? Again Thomas Ligotti:
But I soon realized that this was a silent film, a cinematic document that in every aspect of its production was thoroughly primitive, from its harsh light and coarse photographic texture to its nearly unintelligible scenario.  It seemed to serve as a visual record of scientific experiment, a laboratory demonstration in fact. The setting, nevertheless, was anything but clinical-a bare wall in a cellar which in some ways resembled, yet was not identical to, the one where I was viewing this film.
Even the entrance to the installation is full of meaning. Just a lamp on a cupboard and a sign: "Exhibition continues". But this is eerily reminiscent of a Mark Samuels horror story:
It was not obvious where I should be going, so I looked in through a half-opened door to my left. It was an abandoned gents toilet, thick with dirt. The cubicle doors hung ajar and the toilet bowls and urinals were broken, with fragments of porcelain scattered on the floor. 
I returned to the corridor and after a few more paces finally noticed a sign with an arrow, indicating the direction I was to follow. I turned right. This corridor seemed to be exactly the same as the first. 
I was beginning to feel a sense of emptiness creep over me, deadening my spirits, replacing the tension I’d previously felt. And then I realised what should have been obvious: this was the installation! The sense of isolation and dislocation was complete. I felt utterly alone as I walked through the confines of the artificial void.
The White Hands and Other Weird Tales (Mark Samuels)
Grimscribe (Thomas Ligotti)

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