— Christoffer Joergensen

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The exploitation of the planet’s resources has left deep scars in nature and now the exploitation of the human mind through data mining is leaving deep scars in our psyches, too. I aim to depict the material as well as spiritual wastelands beyond the world that global corporations have carved out around and inside us. Those scars are where I find material for my compositions, my inspiration and hope for the future.

Ambiguous Technology

How does the spread of technology into every domain of life change the way we perceive the world? How does it change the way we perceive art? It would take me many lifetimes to get a complete understanding of the bricolage of computer chips, hard drives, programs, algorithms, cameras and printers that I employ every day to make my work. It is as if my daily practice is floating atop a giant ocean of impenetrable knowledge. In such a light, the modernist promise of laying bare all my artistic means of production seems impossible to live up to. In the digital age, the secret techniques of the artists are also secrets for the artists themselves.

An Aesthetics of Ambiguity

A rich set of aesthetic fields of tension – between proliferating organic forms and pixel noise, sharp geometric planes and meaty substances, porous and soft surfaces, order and chaos, the micro- and macro-realms, composition and decomposition, inside and outside, nature and technology – permeates the work. My pictures are designed to appear familiar at first but to increasingly withdraw the ground from beneath the viewer’s feet once he or she studies them more carefully. Is this world being constructed or destroyed? Were these pictures taken from space or with a microscope? Are they landscapes or mindscapes? While appearing abstract, the pictures can perhaps better be said to employ an aesthetics of ambiguity.

Echos of the Romantic Era

My aesthetic sensibility reverberates in the Romantic landscape paintings of the early nineteenth century. Like our digital age, the Romantic era was a period of transition. At the time, a growing network of canals and railways condensed space and shook people’s cognitive mapping. The Romantics reacted with apocalyptic visions that felt at once epic and claustrophobic. Today, the world wide web condenses our mental space with an endless inflow of information and reconfigures our cognitive maps at ever greater speeds. While I’m using cutting edge digital tools, I find that I’m reacting to my time in much the same way as the Romantics did two centuries earlier.

Photogrammetry and the Ruins of Reality

Photography is the raw material of my practice. I photograph small, insignificant objects and details – discarded things, old plastic, driftwood, a part of a crumbling wall – and use photogrammetry software to turn these objects into three-dimensional computer models. I’m drawn to the ruinous aesthetic that results when the algorithm is unable to properly calculate the 3D coordinates of the objects, producing meshes that look like torn spiderwebs.

Picturing the Unknowable

In my work, photography stands for the normal, everyday vision of the world. It’s a starting point rather than an end point to me, the beginning of a chain of operations designed to lead towards the perception of a more ambiguous, abstract dimension. Ever since I have called myself an artist, I have systematically cut, mirrored, blurred, distorted and transformed photographs to that effect – to squeeze out something more, to generate a content by ruining it.

My alchemy aims to turn despair into hope, dissolution into resolution, the lost into the found, the impossible into the necessary, waste into beauty, the small into the epic, the discarded and useless into art. Just as we reconfigure the fragmentary events of the bygone day into new constellations when we are dreaming, my artistic practice reconfigures fragments of the world into new compositions. And just as the unconscious attaches itself to these dream configurations, the repressed dimension of the world – its scars and waste – inscribes itself into my pictures.

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Im heutigen digitalen Zeitalter stehen wir vor einem neuen künstlerischen Atomismus, der Parallelen zum Impressionismus und zum Pointillismus aufweisen aber wahrscheinlich doch ganz anders aussehen wird. Die Welt besteht aus unzähligen Atomen aber auch aus noch viel zahlreicheren und viel kleineren Entitäten, die den Raum ausmachen. Die verborgene Welt der Quantenphysik lehrt uns, dass es keine Unendlichkeit gibt. Viel mehr besteht der Raum selbst aus einer gigantischen aber endlichen Menge an Quanta. Betrachtet man die Pointillisten des 19. Jahrhunderts durch die Linse dieser neuen Entdeckungen der Physik, könnte man fast meinen, sie hätten bewusst den Zwischenraum zwischen dieser verborgenen Quantumwelt und unserer sichtbaren Alltagswelt geschlossen, also diese zwei wesensfremden Aspekte der Realität miteinander verschränkt. Wir Künstlerinnen und Künstler sollten heute vielleicht ähnlich vorgehen, also die Verschränkung wesensfremder Aspekte der Realität mit den digitalen Mitteln und den neuen Möglichkeiten, die sie uns geben, vorantreiben. Auch die digitale Domäne ist durch ihr atomistisches Wesen (Bits und Pixels) gekennzeichnet. In Zukunft wird die Verschränkung vom physikalischen Atomismus  mit dem digitalen Atomismus der Gesellschaft ein neues Gesicht geben.

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Stop Motion Video mit 200’000 Bügelperlen 🙂

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ECB Art Collection- Kunst Privat

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Trine Sörgaard Parmo Krog: Why did you chose to become a photographer?

Christoffer Joergensen: The period in which I wanted to be a writer ended in isolation. The camera became the companion that got me involved with the world again, at the same time as forming a kind of shield to protect me from it.

TSPK: Where do you get inspiration?

CJ: The process of working on my two long-term projects Plectage and Public Spheres continues to inspire me.

Also, discussing my work with smart people whose opinion I value is really important to me.

TSPK: How have you developed as a photographer?

CJ: In slow, more or less considered steps. I have a lot of ideas every week, most of which are eventually dismissed in favour of my two core projects. I’ve been working on those since roughly 2008. That was also the year when I made a pact with myself to use photography as the foundation of all my artistic endeavours. I continue to experiment within the framework of photography, combining the medium with other digital or analogue techniques and processes.

TSPK: What photograph that you didn’t take yourself particularly fascinates you?

CJ: Andreas Gursky’s New York Stock Exchange is a masterpiece if such a thing still exists.

TSPK: Are you showing a series or are you showing different projects in your exhibition?

CJ: There are several series in the show but the focus is on my Public Spheres project, for which I am currently photographing the plenary halls of all the EU member state parliaments.

TSPK: In some of your images you are investigating the notion of a democratic image. How did such an interest arise, why is it relevant and how are you actually implementing this idea?

CJ: I’m still wondering what an image with a democratic aesthetic might look like. When the german philosopher Peter Sloterdijk said that Giotto was the first painter to make democratic images, I believe he was referring to Giotto’s crowds. After a long monopoly of icon painting, Giotto can be said to have introduced a new sense of multiplicity. There are actually all kinds of crowds in his paintings: perfectly organised crowds, chaotic crowds, crowds of flying angels, angry crowds, worshipping crowds etc.

On the other hand, Slavoj Žižek wrote somewhere that the only proper way to depict the people as an entity is through a single, representative body – the body of Christ or the body of Marat, for instance. Actually, when you combine Sloterdijk’s view with that of Žižek, you get something like Hobbes’ Leviathan.

Even though my two projects look visually quite different from each other, both of them in my view incorporate the aesthetic of democracy in that they create a field of tension between the singular and the multiple. Bruno Latour put it like this: “The demos is haunted by the demon of devision.” In other words, democracy divides the people at the same time as uniting them.

TSPK: Is photography a democratic medium or a mass medium?

CJ: Photography has certainly become a very accessible medium, not least through its digitisation. To me photography currently caters to the weird and paradoxical notion of mass-individualism. We all seem to do the same thing to prove that we are special. Think of the millions and millions of “selfies” that have been taken and uploaded in the last years. But are they an expression of democratic culture? I struggle to see how…perhaps when perceived collectively but the spirit of citizenship is utterly missing in them.

TSPK: Is an image that captures the notion of democracy necessarily a democratic image?

CJ: There is a difference between an image that depicts a democratic event and an image that feels democratic in itself. Perhaps a democracy is actually to a great degree sustained by undemocratic imagery.

We are all used to seeing photographic portraits of our politicians on huge billboards. These may be images of democratic representatives but are they democratic images?

One should also distinguish between democracy as a concrete political instrument and democracy as ideology. the term democratic can be very foggy, sometimes simply denoting something that is accessible to many people, like a camera, which now everyone has in his or her smartphone.

TSPK: You are showing works of places of democracy in form of European parliament halls and of parliamentarians. The expression in the series varies quite a lot. Can you explain how and can you tell us something about what makes these images democratic?

CJ: The Public Spheres project contains two different series, the straight photographs of plenary halls and the actual Public Spheres. The plenary hall photos aspire to be objective, classical, archival. The Public Spheres, on the other hand, transform this dry content into something almost excessive. They are celebratory, they celebrate democracy, whereas the straight plenary hall documents characterise the spirit of sober reflection and research, which is essential to the proper functioning of democracy.

TSPK: Another exhibition in the festival is also operating with the idea of a democratic photograph and borrows the term from William Eggleston who used it to link his works together, partly in order to mark a specific attitude towards subject matter and photography. He would for example say, I have photographed democratically, meaning that he treated the subject matter of his photographs democratically. Nothing was more important or worth more than anything else. What do you think about such a definition?

CJ: William Eggleston had a great eye for details that tell us about the day-to-day world of America. His photographs never feel banal or random. If he designed his oeuvre in such a way that no image had more or less weight than the others, he must have chosen his subject matter very carefully. And if he only photographed things with equal weight, then he certainly excluded a lot of subject matter that was lighter or heavier. (He didn’t do panoramic Gursky-style birds-eye-views, for instance.) It’s a fascinating thought to me that, in order to maintain a democratic oeuvre, William Eggleston had to be exclusive.

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Contingent elements become miraculous and are then perhaps endlessly repeated.

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