Audemars Piguet presents its new lounge created by leading French designer Mathieu Lehanneur as well as a new piece by Austrian video artist Kurt Hentschläger to be unveiled at Art Basel in Hong Kong from 14-18 May 2014. Inspired by Audemars Piguet’s home in Le Brassus in the Vallée de Joux, the innovative design by Lehanneur will provide the setting for a reflective video piece by Hentschläger.
The Austrian video artist Kurt Hentschläger’s new work, created for Audemars Piguet, reflects on concepts of nature in the 21st century. It calls attention to the fact that we are at a significant turning point in cultural history, as mediated representations of the real world seem increasingly to outnumber direct perceptions.
As nature filtered through digital communication channels becomes the new norm, the boundaries start to blur between mediated and physical experience. The degree of technical sophistication and the super-high resolution made possible by contemporary media production methods are accelerating the dominance of mediated reality. People now routinely perceive the “real world” through a mediated filter. A kind of cultural construct has emerged alongside the real world in the form of a parallel media reality.
Hentschläger’ work probes the question whether “nature” and the concept of the “original” can still culturally exist in this new situation. What exactly is real, in the sense of the pure and original, and is to be understood as constructed and artificial? The boundary has shifted. Are these dichotomies still meaningful when the real and the artificial have become so inextricably interwoven?
In MEASURE, a video work shot in the Vallée de Joux in the Jura Mountains of Switzerland, Hentschläger attempted to capture and collect the essence of his experience of the pristine, high-altitude fields and forests in the valley. Although only a one-hour drive from Geneva, this area still feels extremely remote, mostly untouched by civilization.
In his studio, processing the video and sound footage collected in the Vallée, Hentschläger pushed the artificiality inherent in media representation by using synthesized audio-visual materials and processes, which are super-imposed, layered, time expanded, and compressed. The artist does this in order to weave a sense of the fake into the captured, authentic footage, rendering a single unified, hybrid, and stylized impression.
The trance-like sequences of MEASURE move freely between natural extremes, such as a shadow growing and shrinking. Things move, but our sense of having arrived at a different location is the only indication that we have been transported. Time has been simultaneously compressed and expanded to repress the notion of motion altogether. The work feels organic and at once artificial. Our perceptions of hues, colors, and luminescence shift almost imperceptibly, taking the place of a logical narrative or a musical structure consisting of beats and bars.
Time stretches and stops. It rushes forward and comes to rest, much the same way as it does in the music of Indian of ragas, a musical tradition historically associated with different times of the day and the changing seasons.
Hentschläger’s works are characteristically visceral and immersive. in ZEE & FEED, for example, extreme perceptual effects are derived from the rhythmic manipulation of light, sound, and fog. These works physiologically transport the viewer quite literally into another world. Another work, titled CLUSTER, hybridizes the human with the organic by portraying 3D representations of humanoid creatures that can only exist in dynamic flux, seeming to swirl and flow like the wind, apparently unhinged from the screen that they have been projected on.
MEASURE at first glance appears more grounded than these earlier works, more deliberate in its realism. But what actually occupies Hentschläger’s interest here is how human emotions color perception, particularly in relation to the romantic and often sentimental feelings that cultural representation of nature intentionally evoke. Nature has now irresistibly been transformed by the exigencies of human design.