Artist Statement: Mall and Straßenszenen
I photographed the material for Mall around 1996/97 in Vancouver. The images were meant to look more or less like candid street photographs. In fact these images are the result of a digital manipulation.
Each image of the series is composed from several analog photographs, which were shot from the same standpoint with the exact same framing. I blended this analog material in such a way that all the persons in the digitally manipulated images appear precisely at that spot where they had been at the moment I had taken their picture. But the constellations of people in the images had never existed because I had photographed these individuals (within that identical pictorial space) at different moments.
With this work I wanted to question the photographic tradition of the “decisive moment” and its aesthetic vocabulary at the advent of the digitalization in media. The intent of the street photographer to capture the perfect moment for the picture’s geometry and (surrealist) narrative becomes obsolete, when this instant can be synthesized. I was interested in producing images that on one hand would imitate straight photography and one the other hand create a sense of subtle artificiality.
By going to the shopping mall to gather parts for my “image” I was also imitating the mode of consumerism and with that commenting on certain aspects of the media of digital imaging which were to me at least at that time highly questionable. One goes to the shopping mall to collect those things, which will then become the parts of one’s “image”. It seems, that the ongoing cultural shift towards a construction of one’s image (the part of the identity which is communicated to the outside) by means of the choices that one makes as a consumer and how one combines all these acquisitions, is paralleled by the new digital technologies of image production. “Photoshop” is a computer program, originally developed for the advertising industries. It is a product of and embodies the ideology of contemporary capitalism.
Each of the Mall pictures is a new version of the original material. In 2005 I was reconsidering the work and decided to make different choices in the compositions of the images. Digitalized photographs are - similar to electronic music - digital files with layers and filters and they contain a lot more possibilities than they show as prints. I felt that it was not only legitimate but also a logical consequence to „remix“ the material.
Straßenszenen: The street scenes of places in Berlin, which are highly frequented by tourists, (so to speak entirely commercialized urban spaces) are constructed in the same way as the images of the series Mall.
The images are all inkjet prints, approx. 16x24 inch (40x60cm)
Michael Schaefer, 2006