TIME OUT .07 – Between Individual and Society

TIME OUT .07, the seventh in this ongoing series of exhibitions, is now running at the Ars Electronica Center. TIME OUT is staged twice a year in cooperation with Linz Art University to showcase recent works of media art by students in the school’s Time-based and Interactive Media program. The Blog is spotlighting some of the participating artists. This time, Katharina Pichler tells us about her work.

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Credit: Martin Hieslmair

The seventh installment in the TIME OUT series once again offers visitors to the Ars Electronica Center fascinating insights into the work being done by students enrolled in Linz Art University’s Time-based and Interactive Media program. Bachelor’s degree candidates get a comprehensive education and professional training in the theory, technology and design of digital media. The program is for students who want intensive, wide-ranging exposure to video, audio, installations, interfaces and interaction. As always, the show was curated by Gerhard Funk, the program director, and Gerfried Stocker, artistic director of Ars Electronica. They have selected nine students to display their work at the Ars Electronica Center.

Katharina Pichler’s “REFRAMING” is an interactive installation in which various large and small mirrors are arrayed on top of and adjacent to each other, none of them flat against the wall. Due to the respective angles at which they’re mounted, they mirror installation visitors in a variety of perspectives. The manipulated reflections invite those beholding them to experiment with their images and thus with their self-perception and ultimately with reality itself. Katharina talked to us about her work.

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The artist Katharina Pichler with her installation “REFRAMING”. Credit: Martin Hieslmair

A provocative question for starters, Katharina: How does your installation differ from a normal mirror that everybody has at home? Please elaborate on this.

Katharina Pichler: This installation really isn’t a matter of removing the mirror from its context in everyday life. Actually, I find it rather exciting to recontextualize a common, everyday medium. For me, the focus in this project is on questioning interrelationships and patterns of thinking. The self-image of people beholding this installation serves as the point of departure and ultimately becomes the installation’s theme. Two built-in video monitors make it possible to visually integrate texts.

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Visitors with the installation “REFRAMING” during exhibition opening. Credit: Magdalena Sick-Leitner

In today’s hyper-individualized society, it’s often difficult for us to shift perspectives. Assuming a different point of view by continuing to look at yourself in the mirror sounds like a contradiction. Or isn’t it?

Katharina Pichler: I think that there’s tremendous tension and interplay between the individual and the society, so it’s a fundamental challenge to define and assert oneself in this context. To some extent, people subject their thinking and actions to personal limits.

For me, REFRAMING represents a situation that is exceptional in a certain sense. Installation visitors are called upon to define their own framework and to question it, to shed light on themselves from different perspectives. Those encountering this work are challenged to experiment visually and figuratively with their perception. The shifts in the appearance of the image, which can be controlled via the independently adjustable mirrors, also actually do engender shifts in perspective. The personal, conventional glimpse in the mirror is subjected to scrutiny and distorted in a certain way.

REFRAMING endeavors to subtly address questions of individuality and existence by playing with our conceptions of these phenomena. I’m totally fascinated by the idea that even a single thought can redirect our perception into a different direction. What I’m attempting to convey here is food for thought that individuals can take further, and not concrete positions or critiques on particular issues. Each person who confronts this installation should do so on his or her own terms.

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Two integrated screens pose questions to the viewer. Credit: Magdalena Sick-Leitner

Is this your first interactive installation? Are you planning more work in this genre?

Katharina Pichler: REFRAMING is my first installation. In implementing this project, the most fascinating parts of the work for me were the haptic aspect and the integration of analog and digital elements. I can imagine working on another installation but I don’t have any concrete plans at the moment.

What are you working on now?

Katharina Pichler: At present, I’m working more with sound and video, whereby I’m really fascinated by incorporating assorted means of expression and diverse materials.

The TIME OUT .07 exhibition opened on May 23, 2017. The students’ works can be viewed at any time during the museum’s opening hours.

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