günther selichar

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Exposures 2002/03

Installation Oö.Landesgalerie, Linz (A) 2004

Photo: E. Grillnberger, Linz

Marie Röbl

Selichar's most recent photo series entitled "Exposures" is devoted to another component of devices or apparative installations of electronic image media: the lamps for illuminating/lighting the motifs or places selected for shooting pictures. These are frequently halogen lamps, such as those built into video or film cameras, camcorders or other recording devices. These light sources are photographed in color in an active, in other words illuminated state. Here again, the apparatus context is not recognizable, because the adjacent, barely captured encasing sections appear only as a black outline in the glare of the light. Thus the usually circular illuminants have the effect of being released or that of bright figures against a square, dark ground. What becomes visible here, in the sharpest possible focus, are the irregular, knot-like centers where the actual light source, the filaments are; in addition, there are valleys of shadow or gray-shaded areas around these centers, which spread out in astonishingly different forms on the spherically curved, glowing white reflectors. Yet what comes into view - literally before anything else - are the surfaces of the transparent diffusion plates that cover the bulb as protection and diffuse the light shining through them through their irregularities. Everything behind them in the photo appears to be filtered through them: slightly blurred or schematically dissolved, depending on how the surfaces of the plates are made (like looking into a bathroom through fluted glass). Since the focus is adjusted exactly to the level of these diffusion plates, their own irregularities can sometimes also be recognized. A further variation of a collision of "media" (in multiple meanings of the term) thus becomes evident here.
Aside from the appeal of the image aesthetics, in its interplay with the title the subject opens up numerous media-sociological and theoretical issues. The English term exposure covers a broad field of terminology, including the meanings: the act of subjecting someone to an influencing experience; abandoning without shelter or protection; presentation to view in an open or public manner; the act of exposing film to light; vulnerability to the elements; to the action of heat or cold or wind or rain; aspect re light or wind; the disclosure of something secret; the intensity of light falling on a photographic film or plate; the state of being vulnerable or exposed; a picture of a person or scene in the form of a print or transparent slide; recorded by a camera on light-sensitive material.  In this way, aggressive, confrontational and investigative aspects of mass media culture are addressed on the one hand, but a conscious and voluntary activity and its effects on the victim side are also expressed as well.
On the other hand, the term also describes essential physical-chemical processes of photographic image production (and the media that depend on it). In a broader sense, the series "Exposures" refers to the elementary basis of every pictorial representation or mediatization, because light is the precondition for visibility at the level of visual perception. As in "Screens, cold" before, Selichar targets a complex intersection of discourses and parameters in his work with an immediately comprehensible, everyday motif.

...Especially in "Exposures", in addition to the aforementioned political aspects of media culture , certain conditions of the medium of representation itself are reflected: too much light exposure on light-sensitive material leads to the erasure of the image, to white "lacunae" or holes in the photographic representation. The concentric forms of the illuminants indicate lenses or apertures, whereas the frequently (almost) square picture format calls to mind a black box, perhaps even a camera obscura. In any case, however, these light sources in the picture also have the effect of gates, passages or pools. In this multiple legibility, as motifs both of recording and of radiating, these lights are also a "medium" in the original sense of the word (from Greek metaxü ... in between). It is clear that Selichar is actually interested in (artificial) light - not just an archival conglomeration of various light objects - in his filming method as carefully planned studio work. His purposeful experimental arrangements thus consciously exclude many random occurrences, such as the original size dimensions of the objects , for instance. What can be seen in his "Exposures" instead is an illustration, so to speak, of both physical theories of light: in each example there are white radiations ("wave" theory) and simultaneously more or less blurred, cloudy gray particles ("particle" theory).
What Robert C. Morgan noted about "Sources" in 1995 thus also applies to the more recent works: "Visible physicality makes Günther Selichar's art both conceptual and concrete at the same time." A common feature of the series discussed is their analytical-scientific character, their cool facticity and meticulous literalness. This is also due to the mode of effect and the codes of the photographic medium as mentioned above. It is the specific referentiality or the frequently cited index character of photography that lets us believe in (a) truth of depiction, a virtually scientific adherence to phenomena. However, it is precisely these paradigms that seem to be called into question with the emergence of digital photography and its possibilities for intervening in the close relationship between image and referent. And yet digital recording techniques especially enable a high degree of detailed information, which is superior to analog camera technique or film chemistry. Selichar's works thus suggest rethinking the frequently too simply conceived media-technological turn from analog to digital photography and differentiating carefully between the steps of recording and processing images.

...Thus it is precisely the excess of the factual, the enormous abundance of detail in his pictures, which allows a so faithful depiction to tip into the (autonomous, abstract) pictorialness of an artefact: through the perception of the painterly qualities of these pictures, their emptiness (of objects) opens up the experience of "repelling depth" (Günther Selichar), which can be read as a metaphor for the immediate insufficiency of mediatized reality: the gaze alone - regardless of how it is technologically enhanced - is not capable of deciphering the conditions and backgrounds of the media and their image cultures.

From: Marie Röbl, „Sources“, „Screens“, „Exposures“.Günther Selichar's Media Analyses in the Medium of Photography, in: Martin Hochleitner (Ed.), Alexander  Horwath, Marc Ries, Dieter Ronte, Marie Röbl, Birgit Sonna: Günther Selichar. Third Eye. (Linz | Salzburg: Oö.Landesgalerie | Fotohof edition  37, 2004).