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Back into the Future of Video Art
The Mental Pictures of Alexander Steig

In the visual overkill of our information society there are straight again the unagitated video images, which have a lasting effect. In front of Alexander Steigs projections anyhow the viewer remains a small eternity considering the actually unspectacular and often actionless reappearing of deceitfully well-known motives and aesthetic phenomena. The attraction is in the obscure origin of the televised pictures: thus about apparently a luminary is put into the focus, over whose crusted surface with plenty of craters it seems the sun is going down. At the edge straight of the still lightning-like illuminated, easily curved horizon we see a star sinking in the dark space. What else than a satellite picture of the moon or an equally dead planet should present this image projected on the naked wall? Something does not tune here however with all illusionistic default of the planetary phenomena. And because of that in a criminalistic way we are starting to scan the surface and entire surrounding field of the media-installation. The following indications result: The structure of the planet's surface looks a little too synthetically and artificial. The solar source of light flashes rather like a free falling star. At all the alleged sun holds itself regardless of its low status quo. It lasts a beautiful, long element of surprise, until we constitute the physical conditions simulated by Alexander Steig. Finally the piece of work is simulating extraterrestrial conditions. In case of "sunset" (2006) it concerns in fact a relatively rough plastered wall, which is partially floodlit, in order to take and reflect in another place at the same wall too via video projector so in the dark the illuminated perception field by an point-exactly positioned camera in its sights.

sunset, 2007, Kunsthalle FAUST, Hannover

For the project scholarship of the state capital Munich Alexander Steig has found an adequate "Darkroom" to realise his media-camouflage. Because in the shade existence of an off space Steigs subtly proportioned interventions become effective. He is using the so called close-circuit procedure better known as video-surveillance, monitoring or televising. Now he decided to show three works in the entrance area of Munichs formally cogeneration plant. For the first time he developes and dramatizes those works in a scenario entitled "make some space".

Beside "sunset" he offered there with "Space #2 (star)" from 2005 as further stellar adventure a media-transfer into the starlit sky, as it would be possible in the grouping of stars strewn in a true-to-life manner around a radiating fixed star otherwise probably to watch only at night in southern counties with clear view in the firmament.

Space #2 (stars), 2005, Arena, Berlin

All the more striking is also here the rough model mesh of the delusion: as if it is a telescope, Steig is putting his video camera this time stationed at the ground focusing on nothing as a perforated, however from the rear illuminated cardboard box in. Maybe he likes to demonstrate the physical perception experiment as conscious denial of the real space in favour of the reproduction of a galactic event on the monitor of a black-and-white television set. In the third part of its excursion through his fictitious universe we can see the modification of the installation "Flying" from 2000, last but not least a missile is gliding over a sandy desert. More exactly said it concerns a theatrical illuminated paper plane, that is fixed over a going turntable. Its silhouette on the completely dust-covered record is televised on a monitor.

flying, 2003, Gallery of the City of Bremen ....................flying, 2000, Eine Deutsche Einkaufspassage, Hannover

At least Steigs pseudoscientific experimental setups are satisfying because of the light-handedness of the construction captivates. His interventions are ephemeral and usually to experience authentically live only at the very place which it was developed for. After the determined play time the installation will be rebuild into its individual components, no more than video camera, headlights, trivial everyday life object as well as image carrier do not remain as constants of the media-equation. To that extent Steigs installations imply always something from a new play-development for the theatre: Similar to a dress rehearsal or a debut performance it is proven, that stage direction, light and props are negotiated into the correct point of view, depending on the particular content.

make some space, 2007, Power-Plant, Munich

With laconic esprit Steig refers to the early years of the video art and their protagonists. As them he is using technical limited but extremely precisely media. As a smug aspect he shows us the inventory that is well-known since the early periods of the video art: how we became thoughtless and blunted in view of a hypertrophic media machinery in relation to the aesthetic representation systems of the film. Steig speaks thereby even about his "calculated anachronism". Actually, in the age of the exaggerated cinematic picture production of moments of desiring, he is searching decidedly for a new, clarifying simplicity. Already Hitchcock despised the affect-steered acting of the actors before the camera and requested these to a rather cool action, to a above all mental relationship with the camera. In his famous paper "The Movement-Image" Frenchman Gilles Deleuze says: The invention of the mental picture - or relation picture - Hitchcock inserts the keystone into the entirety of the action pictures as well as the perception and affect pictures. So this explains his conception of the field of view. (...) Including the spectator into the film and the film into the mental picture, he is compassing the film. (...) The hero from his motion picture 'Rear Window' has a still more direct entrance to the mental picture, not only, because he is a photographer, but because he is severely handicapped: effectively he is reduced to on a purely visual situation."

surface, 2007, Power-Plant, Munich

Straight because actors are completely absent in lots of Steigs works, usually even no action takes place, it can be talked also here from a "mental picture". Steig forces the viewer into a perspective, from which alone he has the optimal perspective on the meditative picture projected in the still. Often he places the spectator into adjusted seats. This actually seems like looking for anachronism, if one considers that the viewers in the age of the flat-screens otherwise freely move in the presentation area of video-works and particularly lose themselves in multiple projections. Alexander Steigs mental pictures are at the same time mantraps, we fall into a trap of convention, we are accustomed to: the custom from the seductive overwhelming of the cinema. But finally we determine, how excessive became our seeing forms by the over-stimulation of our senses. He leads us back in the long run to the point of origin of the video art and overcomes nevertheless their technical standards; he is bringing in (as a former painter) also again the central perspective - invented in the Renaissance - by precise framings of the projected picture. Steigs artistic finesse is in his pointed conceptual element of the compositorial media with simultaneous solidarity to the illusionism, as he is trained by the view from the window. Point of pass "Rear Window"! Comparably with Hitchcock, Alexander Steig involves the spectators and the film into the mental picture, re-establishes from the eyes lost, indispensable relations between filmed object and subjective seeing.

Birgit Sonna, Munich, 2007

Translated by Alexander Steig

(Catalogues Förderpreise/Projektstipendien 2007 and fünf Inszenierungen, Munich, 2007)