DVDs (Digital Versatile Disc)



Par Ante Glibota*

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By Ante Glibota*

A way of creation that starts with drawings, collages, superimposition of photographs, towards video, cyber space vanishing into a virtual ephemerality, is not an ordinary way.But it is precisely the way followed by the Swiss new médiums artist Franziska Megert.
Her process of visualization of the multidimensional space, marked with a fleeting and immaterial presence, is however perceptible at different degrees, through its whole artistic career which gives a feeling of structurality , solidityand singularity of her research full of poetry as well as the center of her investigation projects. This last point, the poetry of expression, remains in Megert the spine of her projects, even when it bears in itself a technical nature of image linked notably to her architectural projects or better said to her architectural virtuality. Intervening in her imaginative uniserve with poetry at a time when life is rather difficult for poetry and revealing itself in a real space, leaving the imaginative universe to be desired to the detriment of the cultural contribution, Franziska Megert’s attitude is all the more comforting, lively and enchanting.

Franziska Megert, "HOMMeAGE", computeranimation

The first one-man show of her career is a museum show, at the Kunstmuseum in Bern in 1982, Franziska Megert has realized around fifty projects of video tapes, computer animations, video installations in relation with architecture… One could say that her projects are rare, resulting from the reflection of somebody who is not in a hurry, but accross the time they are metamorphosing, even if it seems surprising to note that the end and the beginning are similar in their equality.
Franziska Megert works in the area of new mediums , of the electronic imagery which groups together in itself time, space and movement giving to the artist a feeling of structural similarity. By superimposing, she works indeed with the opposites, with antagonistic trends and paradoxes incorporated in a structured relation which means communication in the broad sense of the term.
She is obviously interested in the immaterial because the psychical world has an ephemeral and dynamic nature, it is immaterial and requires more space and more time that anything having a material equivalence.
Her psychical projects and the electronic images have in common a similarity of structures , like for example « Le lit de Roses » (Bed of Roses) which is a bed built with 16 monitors, as the place of opposite actions. The rose that pricks and the rose that smells good, a beautiful flower that attracks us and that hurts us with its thorn. The bed as the place of birth and death, of love and hatred, of desire and repugnance…

Very often in her projects, she doesn’t hesitate to refer to mythological imagery in order to accentuate the pertinence of the explored ideas, such as in "Arachne Vanitatis”, which evokes an anecdote of the Greek mythology mentioned by Ovide in his "Metamorphosis”. The weaver Arachne confronts the goddess Pallas metamorphosed into an unrecognizable old woman which she hurls with disgust and contempt "You are not in your right mind anymore and your long old age overwhelms you; yes, to have lived for a too long time is a misfortune…”
As a punishment, goddess Pallas, in her turn, transforms Arachne into a weaver-spider. Franziska Megert transforms into iconographical wings the metamorphosis of female creatures who lost in turn their materiality. Through the immateriality of video images, Franziska Megert brings this material transcendence to a metaphysical level. She makes us think about all the paradoxes of human surrounding, about the way to be there and to live this humanity, this transition between the death and the eternity, this search of eternity which bans the death placing itself in a loss of materiality.

Another dimension of the interest of Franziska Megert’s researches is in the ambivalence towards video and notably in her media-critical preoccupation, like for example in her project "Der Tunel” in which the artist explores and examines the quality of electromagnetic stimulus with regard to our relation to these stimulus, the sensorial measure of the body in comparison with the signals.
In another project "Off”, the artist demonstrates the meaning and the absurdity of the acceleration of the information transmission at the digital age when communication is pretended and simultaneously excluded, when the beginning means at the same time its end.

The true mastery of the Swiss artist is revealed in the project HOMMeAGE, computer animation and video installation (1 player, 1 video projector) in which the artist exploits the ambiguity of intentions both in the title and in the content.
In her video, the unity of time and the unity of space are observed inside each scene. The shot ting is moving both along the axe of time and along the axe of distance.
She extraordinarily animates this jubilation full of imagery so we get the impression that the whole universe and the whole past are present in this three minutes long sequence.
There is a subtle analysis of women’s corporal universe through the centuries and through so various brushes , old Masters being next to the contemporary avant-garde. Bodies are stitched up, cut up in all situations and positions, filling the flowing virtual space, discovering the deep roots of the woman’s body, which narcissistic laugh underlines the magic power it exerts over the viewer .
Instinct women, without modesty, bearing in themselves the vaporous question mark, that is what reveal these received ideas, bad known or too well known.

Among other virtual projects , computer animation in two versions (7’ "Joint Party” and 15’ "Les anges et les autres”) , is "Anges”. Having recourse to the angel iconography in both versions, Megert goes into a theme all universe long. The artist wants to remain us that in the Old testament, among the Israelites at the time of Moses there were on the box which keeps the vows two golden cherubs, the only sculpture allowed in the Jewish liturgical art then in the Christian iconography, in catacombs until flourishing Renaissance, as a natural extension.

Megert shows us that the universality of angel appears in other religions and civilizations with a changing form : among the Persians as amesa spentas (Holly Spirit), fravasis (Protective Spirit ), devas ( Evil Spirit), dzin in Islam, ancient Romans believed in demons, genies, Penates , Greeks believed in daimonia, but also the Egyptians, the Indians…
Megert takes them from different civilizations and religions, dressing and undressing them according to their different orders of importance. In fact, through this gallery of angels, she shows us Fra Angelico, Rafael, Rubens, Vouet, Rigaud, Murillo, Giotto…, the angels from vases and mosaics until the contemporary artists, in fact the history of art. She virtualizes for us the history of art within a few minutes, from the angels of the Roman caves, Byzantine and Carolingian mosaics , stratifying the artistic movements, splitting up and reconstituting a galaxy of angels and archangels , body less, with winged heads, lovely children newly conceived under the Zoroastrian influence, as immaterial beings.
Of course, Megert’s will is not to teach us or to make a scholarly documentation or illustration, but to create a series of associations and a motif for a process of reflection about the universality of beings through an angel who flies immaterialized out of his mythology, because even the mythology deals with the psychology of immaterial world.

"La ville des immortelles”, the artist also realized in two versions (the second one being entitled "La ville des immortelles – inonde), is impregnated with deconstructivist ideas, a composition and recomposition of virtual architecture images. Franziska Megert captures something essential, creating a fluid utopian composition. It is the birth and the disappearing of an hybrid urban architecture city, an imagery which stands out in our memory where poetry and irony are in place. The virtual urban palaces, the public plazas built up in a fragmentary aesthetics , even in a virtual form, confront a contemporary creative architectural scene , opposing an authentically modern architecture with the regressive historicism of post-modernism, which symbolically falls into this animation with their paladian columns, handing over to an architecture of modern and poetic potential.
Curiously "La ville des immortelles” is empty of human kind . An underlying apocalyptical vision is gliding. In this recomposed image "La ville des immortelles – inonde” isn’t it a nowadays imaginary Troy or Pompeii , which rejoins another work by Megert entitled "Naked Eyes – Apokalypse” realized some years ago.
Architecture is obviously one of the major interest in Megert’s recent creations , clearly shown in the project "Neue Messe Dusseldorf” (M2), realized with the architects Ortner & Ortner, then in the project for the Library of Dresden University, and of course in one of her most important project of that nature "Quartier des Musées” ("MuQua”) in Vienna with the same group pf architects. This last project is devoted, through architecture, to the research on light.
Through this vision of lightness, Franziska Megert shows us that she has got an inner eye of fire, the visual rays which allow to rebuilt the way of the architectural creativity of light. Her straight lines and their rapidity which divide into the virtuality of this architecture of light, are revealed in the experimental field, the rectilinear propagation of reflection, of refraction… From now on, in front of us is one of the most creative European artist in the area of new mediums.

A.G., January 2003
*Historian of Art and Architecture.