IS IT JUST A MYTH?
You know this landscape, you have seen it before. But something is different here. You pass through the remnants of stories, the traces they have left. You slowly move closer, inspecting each detail. You ponder, remeasure. Flitting between the things that happened and those that might. Although there is complete silence, you hear the wind in the treetops. You want to walk further but the frame won’t allow you to. You only see the finished picture, the interpretation of someone who explored the landscape ages ahead of you.
Regarding the speed of transformations today, the empirical approach can deceive us easily. There is no more boundary between reality and virtuality, truth and fiction. All pictures that exist are truthful. Regardless of their origin, bit by bit, they unveil the world in which we live. The world where the living becomes lifeless and the lifeless becomes living. There is no need to yield to the hierarchy between the already existing and artificially created. Precision requires randomness, the density of the scene requires the absence of physical participation. The picture can be entered through the screen to become its component and extension – or just the frame can be observed from afar.
A WALK THROUGH A CONFINED LANDSCAPE
We are standing at the boundary between physical and virtual interfaces, looking for a new authenticity of the artwork. We long to reconnect with nature and experience its power, yet most of the time we remain virtual. Through the flat screens of our smartphones and laptops, we fascinatedly observe scenes from untouched corners of nature or, conversely, places where the Anthropocene has irreversibly made its mark (mining areas, industrial zones, abandoned cities, etc.). We are looking for stories strong enough to convey at least a piece of their epic without having to physically enter them.
The need for direct contact with nature is the basis of the project Is It Just a Myth?. Six artists, together with a photographer and a curator, travel to the quiet landscape of the Ore Mountains where they create and install their works for several days. Some of the works become an integral part of the scenery, others transform and deform it.
The installations are created in the absence of the viewer, to be subsequently conveyed as a complex series of narrative images through the flat screen display. The viewer, i.e. the visitor, walks through the virtual and physical landscape simultaneously. He or she observes a scene framed within the edges of a photograph. They cannot walk around the work, step away from it or feel it. However, they are not looking at its documentation but at the work itself.
A NON-EXISTENT REALITY
An important moment is the choice of the landscape itself, which the visitor passes through on the screen. They know it, they know where to place it and it evokes personal emotions. At the same time, it is abstract enough to function as a landscape type. The absence of significant elements that would clearly determine its location confuses the visitor. He or she may know the landscape well – but they only know fragments of it. They know stumps, mushrooms and ferns, they know that a pool can flow through the forest or that moss can cover tree trunks and piles of stones. But they do not know whether this landscape is real or whether they are looking only at a construct, a representation of a well-known reality. This uncertainty is symptomatic of online space and post-digital photography. The narrative scenes of Is It Just a Myth? duplicate this uncertainty, giving the viewer the choice of trying to decipher them or to simply be enchanted by the magical atmosphere brought about by doubt.
SCROLL INSTEAD OF WALKING, ZOOM AS CURIOSITY
The visitor inspects and examines the work in the landscape. He or she moves closer and further away to discover what has happened in the image. Is it an ongoing action or just the traces left behind? They move through the virtual landscape by scrolling as naturally as if they were walking. A simple movement but one that gives them no choice. The photograph zooms in and out as much as the work itself in the landscape.
CURATOR´S BIO / Barbora Čápová is currently finishing her doctoral studies where she pursues transformation of contemporary visual culture within the scope of digital technologies. The project Is It Just a Myth? demonstrates the crucial theses of her PhD research. Regarding her writing focus, Čápová looks for interdisciplinary intersections between art and journalism. The VICE magazine hosted her own social documentary section and she further contributed to magazines such as Material Times, Czech Design or Artalk.
DUNA group (Lenka Bakeš, Ladislav Kyllar, František Svatoš)
CURATOR / Barbora Čápová
PHOTOGRAPHY / Jan Hromádko
TRANSLATION / Františka Blažková
WEB DESIGN / Ilya Bazhanov & Yana Korzhova