Narrative Landscape

1985 Amsterdam, Netherlands
Coauthors: Jeffrey Shaw, Dirk Groeneveld

Software: Larry Abel
Hardware: Charly Jungbauer, Tat van Vark
Production: Stichting de Appel, Amsterdam

Taking inspiration from the allegorical geography of the French Map of Tendre, the psychogeography of Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities and the Spatial Data Management paradigms created by the MIT Architecture Group, The Narrative Landscape presents the aesthetic ontology of a navigable world of place-body-sign conjunctions.

In the Narrative Landscape installation, images are projected onto a large screen lying flat on the floor of its exhibition space. The spectators stand on a surrounding balcony where a joystick enables any one of them to interactively operate the work. This is done by panning in any lateral direction over the surface of the images, and zooming in or out of a chosen part of an image. At the zoom extremes the application generates a digital transition from one image layer to another.

The Narrative Landscape contains twenty-eight images that relate to one another by means of a specific spatial, aesthetic and conceptual architecture. The primary image—a satellite picture of earth inscribed with a Hebraic astrological chart—is divided by a grid of red lines into nine areas that define access to nine groups of three images. The three images in each group are arranged one below the other and the viewer can move up or down through these layers. All nine groups are structured as iconographic and narrative triptychs. The images on the first level represent a place, those on the second level indicate the body, and the images on the third level are symbolic configurations. Each group of three images has a distinct narrative formation where the underlying metaphor is an emblematic place whose typology is explicated by the circumstances of its citizens and an underlying psychogeography.

The spoken texts, written by Dirk Groeneveld, are conceived as nine distinct narrative poems interactively linked to the nine groups of three images.

This artwork explores the aesthetic potential of the pixel structure of digital images particularly. It uses image pixilation to create operative metaphors that allow the viewer to navigate and explore a spatially distributed constellation of rich iconographies. Panning and zooming in on the low-resolution detail of an image generates increasing abstractions that become permeable to related images. It is an aesthetic architecture of porous pictorial configurations that the viewer can traverse, penetrate and explicate at different levels. In this way it prefigures “transcriptive narrative” that integrates the temporal agency of narrative with the inherently multi-modality of digital information, and dramatizes the world instead of freezing it into schematic representations.

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Exhibition Record

1985/06/04 - 06/22 : de Appel/Holland festival, Aorta, Amsterdam, Netherlands

1985/07/20 - 07/28 : Siggraph '85, Exploratorium, San Francisco, United States

1985/10/22 - 10/27 : Performance in NRW, Moltkerei-Werkstatt, Cologne, Germany

1985/12/17 - : De Lantaren, Rotterdam, Netherlands

1986/06/07 - 06/14 : Festival des Arts Electroniques, Piscine Saint-Georges, Rennes, France

1989/03/18 - 04/23 : 25 Jahre Video-Skulptur, DuMont Kunsthalle, Cologne, Germany

1989/08/27 - 09/24 : 25 Jahre Video-Skulptur, Kongresshalle, Berlin, Germany

1989/10/13 - 11/12 : 25 Jahre Video-Skulptur, Kunsthaus, Zürich, Switzerland

1992/03/20 - 05/24 : The Robots, Nagashima Spaland, Nagoya, Japan

1995/09/30 - 11/05 : Jeffrey Shaw Trigon-Personale 95, Neue Galerie Graz, Graz, Austria

1995/10/29 - 1996/01/28 : Sedicesima Biennale Internazionale del Bronzetto e della Piccola Scultura Padova '95, Giardini dell'Arena, Padova, Italy

1995/12/15 - 1996/02/08 : Photography after Photography, Siemens Kulturprogramm, Aktionsforum Praterinsel, Munich, Germany

1996/02/17 - 03/24 : Photography after Photography, Siemens Kulturprogramm, Kunsthalle Krems, Krems, Austria

1996/04/03 - 05/05 : Photography after Photography, Siemens Kulturprogramm, Städtische Galerie, Erlangen, Germany

1996/05/28 - 07/14 : Photography after Photography, Siemens Kulturprogramm, Brandenburgische Kunstsammlungen Cottbus, Cottbus, Germany

1996/08/10 - 09/22 : Photography after Photography, Siemens Kulturprogramm, Museet for Fotokunst Odense, Odense, Denmark

1996/11/10 - 1997/01/07 : Photography after Photography, Siemens Kulturprogramm, Fotomuseum Winterthur, Winterthur, Switzerland

1998/09/11 - 11/10 : 98 Kyongju (Gyeongju) World Culture Expo, Kyongju (Gyeongju) World Culture Expo Park, Gyeongju, South Korea