Theoretical Girls and Some Dead Stills – an Introduction
Galleri Tom Christoffersen
12.10 – 11.11.2017
Opening: 12.10 2017 – kl. 17-19
Text by Claus Rohland, October 2017
I sometimes wonder about people who wake up and spend almost the whole day online. When they go to bed at night, they’ll have almost no organic memories of their own. If they do this for a long time, you can begin to say that their intelligence is, in a true sense, artificial. Which I guess means sex lives have never been as artificial as they are now.
– O32c magazine, 2012 (Douglas Coupland)
In my 1991 essay ”Only I and AI know” on cyberpunk and virtual reality for the magazine Cras the future of a VR seemed only like a malfunctioning demonstration of a sophisticated Coney Island. Eventually one of the major players in cyberspace would become the flourishing business of webcam forums where girls and women – their names, age and origin purely theoretical (thus the title Theoretical Girls) – are turned into basic pleasure models for basic human instincts. However, this growing contemporary concern, that an exchange of reality for a virtual reality is being established and human feelings become representational, visual artists’ choice of models through centuries as well as folklore and myths in a modern setting shone through – tales of seduction and deception like the tale of the Sirens of the Odyssey. These double natured creatures, though otherworldly, know of the weakness of human nature and like the sultry appearance of the Sirens and alluring calling of their song, these Theoretical Girls perform a seducing spectacle of the representation of human feelings – performed within the notions of ”saint – sinner,” ”virgin (Madonna) – whore”. So they became the project, the digital transmitted images of them are transformed in a photographic process creating a new person, one who bears no evident physical reference to the original webcam model used and who doesn’t refer to the original live-streamed images or setting thereof. The exhibited images are an introduction to the resulting larger series, a body of work defined by what Michel Houllebecq described as ”framing”– ” cutting out a zone from the world, in such a way that it seems to have no exterior.” Detaching image from source opposes the indexicality of the photographic process, and the exhibited pictures are photographs only in a technical sense. The photographs are a means to an end directed toward creating work that defines itself as photo based work on paper through the final printing process.
Since 1989 I’ve worked with photo based works on paper, first of the series ”Selvoptagelser” was a 90x330cm print of a cut-up work ”Bathroom ’89”, which was paraphrasing The Last Supper by Da Vinci. Another series of photographs ”Into The Corruption Of Light” was used for the 20 oversized postcards, each 100x140cm constituting the 2006 show ”What Became Of The Nightingale” at Martin Asbaek Projects. This new series is a continuation of exploring photography as an artistic tool within the premise that I’m not a photographer, but the media serves as a means to an end. All images have been created by use of an iPhone.
Claus Rohland (1953) has exhibited at Arken, Denmark, James Baird Gallery, Canada and Grand Palais, France, among others. His work is part of the collections at Skive Art Museum, Denmark, The Royal Collection of Graphic Art, Denmark, Musee d’Art Decoratifs, France etc. Rohland co-arranged the event ‘Last Chance’ with W. S. Burroughs at Saltlageret in 1983, Denmark and was co-editor of the magazines ‘Atlas’ and ‘Kong’ founded in 1983. He was also co-founder of the exhibition place Kongo in 1982. From 2004-2007 he created poster campaigns in Baghdad, London, Berlin, New York etc. Rohland has received the Danish Arts Foundation work grant.