Christiane Baumgartner | Germany

Luftbild, 2009

Woodcut on Kozo Paper
260x350 cm

Courtesy of Alan Cristea Gallery, London

Christiane Baumgartner combines the earliest and the latest reproduction processes: woodcut and video. Speed and the passage of time are recurring themes throughout her large-scale monochromatic prints. A central aspect of her work is the relation between materiality and immateriality. The "original" image is one of several thousand neutrally generated digital images, not yet defined. Through her selection and transformation of a video still, she creates a unique woodcut that brings experience and weight to an otherwise un-experienced moment.

This action indicates the similarity in the ongoing scenario, in life as in art, in our search and use of the archives of knowledge within us as in the technological memory reservoirs which we constantly view.

This also explains the artist's concern for the engagement of the viewer in reading an image, and the tension between a formal approach to abstraction and the source image.

The image Baumgartner presents in Luftbild is the subject of much distortion, a consequence of filming directly from the TV monitor. The image hovers on the brink of abstraction, the interference imposing a texture across the whole surface of the print. While this provides exciting challenges for the physical cutting of the block, it also acts conceptually as a further layer of filtering through which the image must travel. It makes visible how elusive memory can be and how images subjected to transmission erode, leaving the viewer clinging to shadows and traces. These war scenes were originally taken on film stock for projection, then adapted for analogue TV, which has been reconstituted as digital data for transmission, and then returned to the physical world as the final woodcut. At every stage of this process something is lost and something is added. What finally remains is like a ghost, a distant memory caught at the point of disappearing.