David Jablonowski – Multiple, Heidelberg, 2.39; 1.78; 1.33:1 Hardcopy (Desktop) (2011)

 

For Multiple, Heidelberg, 2.39; 1.78; 1.33:1 Hardcopy (Desktop), a monumental installation by David Jablonowski (Bochum, 1982, lives and works in Amsterdam), the small lake in De Oude Warande functioned literally as a desktop. In his works, Jablonowski focuses on the historical and contemporary communicative force of sculpture and media. This description also applies to his work for Lustwarande ‘11, for which he has stretched several layers of wire over the water in various rectangular arrangements, each referring to the different film and television aspect ratios: the ratio between the width and height of the picture. He includes the most common aspect ratio 4:3 (1.33:1), which has a long history, as it has been a standard format since the first 35mm silent films. However, the more modern aspect ratios of 16:9 (1.78:1), for HD and widescreen, and 2.39:1, used for the theatre, can also be found on the pond in Tilburg. It is the scale of these aspect ratios that interests Jablonowski, as physical and technical boundaries of the moving image.

An enormous printing press, apparently floating over the surface of the water, has been suspended above these taut wires. This late-industrial object, now an antique, is a reminder of the basic principles of the mechanical printing process.

The vertical, two-dimensional images form a different, more contemporary note. Their bright colours refer to the logos of internet communities such as Facebook, Flickr and YouTube, which are important sites for networking and sharing information. The picture of Getafix, the druid from the Asterix comic books, may seem out of place here. However, in various social media theories, this character is the ur-metaphor for the distribution of messages.

The contrast of these elements continues in the formal qualities of the installation: from the light wire, to the heavy, yet floating printing press; from the three-dimensional image to the two-dimensional; from the concrete to the abstract.

 

Multiple, Heidelberg, 2.39; 1.78; 1.33:1 Hardcopy (Desktop) is a typical work within Jablonowski’s oeuvre, which combines iconic means of communication, in different media and from different eras. His previous installations have focused, for example, on the form of the stele, the ziggurat, pages of a medieval codex, as well as scanners, printers and a high-definition widescreen television. As in his constellation of features on the lake, the different elements form a reference to a specific moment in the history of communication, each with its own variety of knowledge transfer: from religious to ritual and political. The cross-references he makes are unexpected, yet have their own logical sculptural coherence. The elements here do not convey any message directly. They do not communicate or broadcast, as such devices normally do. Here it is the medium itself that forms the theme and the narrative. In Jablonowski’s installations, they combine to form an element in a process of developing awareness, as the artist forces the viewer to reflect actively upon perception in contemporary visual culture.

 

Laurie Cluitmans / translation Laura Watkinson