N. PASSATH & E. SAUBACH 2018/19
21 February - 22 March 2019, Gallery K18
Curated by: Elisabeth Saubach
The exhibition “amorphous bodies” by the Austrian media artist Niki Passath deals with the phenomenon of ritual incantation. In his artistic creations, Passath searches for the answers to the mystery of life, the people, their emotions, social behaviour, and human behaviour compared to machines and to the surrounding nature. On this adventurous journey in search for knowledge, he touches different disciplines: from robotics to artificial intelligence, from quantum physics to the life sciences. On different research travels through Europe to the Americas, Africa and Australia he is finding answers, which he assembles in kinetic objects, photographs and artistic-scientific configurations. He expresses himself using different materials, technologies and media and is always looking for new challenges in form and content. He works in different artistic media and cooperates in scientific research projects.
During his residency in Maribor, Passath dealt extensively with the subject of ritual. He alludes to the phenomenon in his artistic practice primarily through the principle of repetition. An “incantation” in the actual sense means to deliberate a request to a higher being and above all the summoning and visible making of a supernatural being. A ritual is characterized primarily by its repetitive character and the associated patterns of action, as well as a fixed place and a certain time. Through the repetitive process of digitally generated and robotically constructed images, the work itself refers to the ritual. Furthermore, for Maribor, the principle of the series is the transformation of the amorphous body (digitally summoned body) produced by digital tools – into a real object; meaning: the transfer or “summoning” from the emptiness of virtual space into the objecthood of the real experienceable world. Passath thus approaches the theme of incantation via a process-oriented method of analysis, in which he examines the visually perceptible qualities of the representation of the virtually generated amorphous body and thus “incites” in the real world. In this process, sculptural objects and drawings on paper were created that still echo the form of the virtually generated object in their shadowy nuance of lines.
The exhibition presents three different approaches of the artist in an in situ installation. On the one hand performances for the opening will take place: Once by a drawing machine mounted on the wall, which allows the amorphous body to appear again as “anatomical studies” (Passath, 2019) in realtime on the canvas, and once by a 3D printer, which will create a plastic variant of the body. On the other hand, “digital artefacts” - drawings on paper and a three-dimensional object, created in the same way prior to the exhibition, are presented. And finally, a projection of the body is presented in virtual space, which is moved by the artist in constant movement and opens the window into the virtual world.
The title of the exhibition is a further implicit reference to the examination of the content of the phenomenon ritual: in physics and chemistry, amorphous material (Greek “without form”) means a substance in which atoms do not form ordered structures in irregular patterns. In the context of making something invisible visible, the lack of form – the (abstract) amorphous body – becomes the only possible form.
Exhibition text, K18, Maribor, © Elisabeth Saubach