Torsten Lauschmann at Hansard Gallery
I recently gave a talk about Torsten Lauschmann’s art. This took place in Southampton, at the Hansard gallery with my great colleague prof. Ryan Bishop. In my quite informal presentation, I picked up on points such as… (excerpts to follow):
What several of Lauschmann’s pieces conjure is a different way of seeing media than just as communication. Media is trickery, a way of modifying realities, and has been for a long time; deceptions of the senses, of virtual realities and false impressions – this is the work of media, which brings it closer to the military psy-ops, and a history of hallucinations, other realities and indeed – magic. In other words, forget the idealistic notions of media as communication between people to exchange messages – instead, entertainment worlds are even down to their physiological effects about tricking the eye, the ear and the mind in ways that attract and affect the spectator. Media is sometimes closer to sorcery, It can conjure and produce realities in very effective ways – think of the long lineage from indeed magic and sorcery to current PR culture… (Fuller and Goffey, Evil Media).
What is significant is perhaps exactly this imagining a parallel world of media that borrows from past. But what is borrowed are perhaps not always very suitable ideas. Yet such can be employed as tools of investigation, critical ways to see our current media culture. It can also be about picking up individual motifs, minor details or ideas, and working them into the art piece, like Lauschmann seems often to do. More generally, in differing ways such works mix the way in which we understand media time – it is not only a progression from the old to the new, but how ideas got discovered and rediscovered, recycled, like concretely in some recycling based DIY art; or in the midst of our reborn enthusiasm for 8-bit pixelated aesthetics, vinyl music listening, of retrogames you remember from 1980s, also old technology presents itself as an alternative way of understanding the new: to take an old piece of technology, visual or audio, and try to think how it enables a different way of understanding media aesthetics.
Defective ideas and forms become standardized as our ways to think of time and media.
“We make our journeys out there in the low light of the future, and return to the bourgeois day and its mass delusion of safety, to report on what we’ve seen. What are any of these ‘utopian dreams’ of ours but defective forms of time-travel?” ( Pynchon, Against the Day, 2006)
Couldn’t we say the same thing about the past: journeys to the past that are like defective forms of time-travel? To past times when old technologies were once new too, and puzzled and awed, with their low lighting, crackling, noise, and pixelated style? The obsolescent entertainment device, the pianola, melancholicly playing its tune in the middle of the room reminds of such time-travels from which Lauschmann poached ideas and devices that trigger much more than nostalgia.
In his part of this double act, Bishop talked about Lauschmann in relation to histories of automation, labour and for instance mechnical music, including the player piano.