A photo is a photo is a photo. Always. It is not a representation of reality but merely a visual reference to an individually lived presence and the starting point for new associations. The viewers seek familiar patterns in the photographic image, take note of well-known colours, ascertain the context and in this way construct their own image with a new meaning. This complex process of reception has been researched often enough. So far, everything familiar. However, what happens when the author of a photos does not exist at all? When there is no clear intention? When reality as a point of reference is not verifiable? And when associations arise from a purely mechanical algorithm? With a fascinating charade of digital reality and analogue virtuality, Viktoria Binschtok challenges familiar ways of seeing and materialises the flood of images generated by the Internet or rather dematerializes reality. C/O Berlin has selected three of her series, which show and exemplify her artistic approach.
For her series Globen (Globes), Viktoria Binschtok purchased several globes in Internet auctions in 2002, which she exhibits together with the respective images, with which the private vendors advertised the objects online. Except that the globes remain packed in the boxes. Although a photo makes reference to the respective original, the real relationship cannot be verified. With this work, the artist shows the fundamentally complex relationship between photographic representation and reality. In addition, she transports the globes, investigated on the Internet into the real space, yet by not opening the packages she forgoes the last step of materialisation. In this way, Viktoria Binschtok highlights the universal phenomenon of our digital age – the bigger part of reality only takes place through our reception of images of it.
In World of Details Viktoria Binschtok uses Google-Street-View shots as the starting point for her own pictures. These authorless, digital, automated images show a specific location, however they lose all their depth when they are enlarged. With her own photos she attempts to plunge into the surface of the cities depicted and overcome the pixilation. In order to do this she travelled to the places depicted by the reference photos to take her own photos, overcoming the distance and getting physically closer to the images. By contrasting her photos with the anonymous Google shots in black-and-white, she transfers these into the material world and presents two perceptions of one and the same place. The viewers are hence called on to create their own, logical whole out of the two parts of the picture. Is that really the same scene of the crime? What is really the original? Has something been staged?
For her most recent series Cluster Viktoria Binschtok takes a random photo from her archive as a starting point and feeds it into the Internet image search. The algorithm searches through the countless images of the World Wide Web, selecting those that have a similar form, colour and structure to the uploaded original – a binary association. Viktoria Binschtok then uses the found material as a model for new, retagged photographs, which she then divides into groups of images. Through the act of re-photographing, she deletes all references to the origins of the pictures. Hence each of the clusters compactly exemplifies the intangible juxtaposition of the world of images around us. In this constellation, the source, the original and the singular image no longer play a role–concrete delimitations and classifications are rendered ineffective. An infinite loop.
For the first time in Germany, C/O Berlin will present an extensive exhibition of the complete works of Viktoria Binschtok. The exhibition has been curated by Ann-Christin Bertrand.
> A reader was published containing texts by Charlotte Cotton, Laurel Ptak, Joshua Chuang and Matthias Harder.
Viktoria Binschtok, born in 1972 in Moscow, raised in Minden/Westfalen, studied Art Photography and Media Art at the Academy of Visual Arts Leipzig and was a master student in the class of Prof. Timm Rautert. Her works have been presented in exhibitions both in Germany and abroad, including Museum Folkwang Essen, Kunstverein Göttingen, Centre Pompidou Metz, Kunsthalle im Lipsiusbau Dresden, Pier 24 San Francisco, Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt, Arts Santa Monica Barcelona, Bergen Kunsthall Norway, Frankfurter Kunstverein and Les Rencontres d‘Arles. Viktoria Binschtok lives and works in Berlin.
With the series Thinking about Photography, C/O Berlin has created an entirely new exhibition series for Berlin that places a deliberate focus on new trends in contemporary photography. Photography has always been strongly influenced by technological innovations, and in the recent history of the medium this has led to constant development and change. The advent of digital photography launched yet another transition process, whose gradually emerging effects and implications have been the subject of intense discussion in recent years among international artists and experts in photography. The new series “Thinking about Photography” will provide an opportunity for reflection on new trends and artistic developments in the medium of photography in up to three exhibitions per year. By exploring new modes of photographic production, perception, and presentation, the series will encourage broader consideration of the future of the medium.