12 JUNE – 12 JULY 2014
Manuel Graf’s “Doppelgaengers” (2014) use an aesthetic that emerges from the fusion of on- and offline worlds – which, however, already constitute an inseparable whole. Virtuality and physicality are shown here as two equal forms of the same factuality – while the flatscreen as the “unreliable narrator” sends both chairs, the physical and the virtual, on an exciting journey.
In the style of “rear projections” as known from car scenes in Hitchcock films, the chair travels through freely available online stock footage, from Grand Canyon to diving turtles in the Pacific. In concrete terms: the chair as well as the data that describes its geometry are not identical – meaning one and the same object in different formations – but represent different manifestations of the same idea of an object, which are of equal rank. In his anecdotal arrangements Graf uses this ontological trick to trace the dissociation of body, being and space, which are increasingly present in everyday life, such as when Google Streetview enables virtual navigation in physical space or when objects become readable and printable. Graf’s “Doppelgangers” anticipate much, which they share with many works of his fellow artists: Firstly the extensive use of relatively new technologies with the purpose of modeling virtual, but often explicitly physical materials: 3D printing and Scan, Photoshop and CGI. Secondly the awareness of an aesthetic that has already captured the physical world by the omnipresence of the Internet: its stylistic devices and phenomena are stereotype stock footage and the pictorial language of advertising. Internet culture is simply not just about a specific culture of the Internet, but a culture that is also influenced by the Internet.
Graf’s dance on the fine line between digital aesthetics and sculptural haptics never feels forced or constructed but intelligent and witty, sometimes even touching when e.g. a seventies style chair and a chrome bar try to hastily mimic each others serpentine movements … only to surrender to one another with a smiling face. Even when things do exist and deserve their own reality regardless of human perception, observation and thinking – so if the anthropocentric privilege can no longer be maintained – Graf’s works never claim to represent this “post-human” reality as so many “post-internet” artists do. His work is simply a speculative and perhaps a tender and equal moment between artist and object.