The works of Belgian artist David Claerbout interlink the media of photography and film, dissolving the barriers that separate them and calling in question the specific characteristics of the photographic and filmic image: static photographs are animated, while moving cinematographic images are slowed down or even brought to a standstill. A seemingly realistic spatiotemporal continuum turns out to have been subtly manipulated and changed by digital means, thus compromising the respectiveclassic expectations of these media.Claerbout's new film and sound installation "The American Room (second movement)", which will be presented on the ground floor of the Rüdiger Schöttle Gallery, is no exception, for it involves the viewer in an exciting audio-visual experience full of surprising and disquieting ingredients.
"The American Room (second movement)" shows a concert held in the intimate atmosphere of a small concert room. The slow movement of the camera through the room and the Dolby-surround sound installation strengthen the viewer's and listener's feeling that they themselves are in the middle of the concert room. What irritates the viewer is the relation between movement and stillness: while the camera moves through the room, the people in the audience remain absolutely motionless.The impression results from a high degree of technical ingenuity, for the scene has been composited completely digitally: the people in the audience have not been filmed but photographed from all sides against a bluescreen to create a three-dimensional effect and then cut out and placed digitally in a photographed space. The movement of the camera was then processed on a computer with the aid of an editing program. The music of the soundtrack in turn conveys a sense of movement through its rhythm.
"In The American Room the relation between movement and stillness is being translated very literally into the relation between breathing and holding the breath. The moments in which we hear the singer are also those moments in which she is offscreen - moments as long as a breath can hold." David Claerbout
David Claerbout was born in Kortrijk, Belgium, in 1967. He first studied painting at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp and then, after completing his studies, devoted himself to photography and cinematography. He now lives and works in Antwerp. A large solo exhibition at the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich is planned for autumn 2010.