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SPACE-TIME DECOMPRESSION

Photographic approaches


Text by Bárbara Lissa
A dialogue with artist Thiemo Kloss
 


For 14 billion years, cosmic radiation travels from the Big Bang moment to a television monitor: echoes of a remote past, which we perceive as a television noise and its little white spots made of static electricity originating from the light of the explosion moment. Memories that travel between past-future-present mediated by a monitor.


Unlike the “flowing river”, time does not behave in a linear way. Since Albert Einstein’s research, physics understands that past, present and future exist simultaneously in different dimensions. So why don’t we remember the future? For the Aymara people from Bolivia and Peru, the past is ahead of us because it is all that we know, all that has been seen, while what we ignore, the future, is behind our backs, inaccessible.


Trying to recap two decades which have not yet happened, the 2050s and the 2150s, German photographer Thiemo Kloss took photographs of the television noise and randomly selected parts of the images. “I then continuously overlayed the parts to see if it will result in a pattern or a form. Instead of anything concrete, the images just formed a grey fog”, he attests. In this series called The 2050s & 2150s (2014), Kloss creates this repetitive action to generate future images.



Thiemo Kloss, The 2050s & 2150s, 2014



“The outcome of it”, he says, “was unknown to me as well as the future that’s ahead of us. But the images and the future are made up of tiny bits from here and there, a constant process of good and bad events that eventually will lead to something better.”


Einstein’s general relativity theory proposes that space-time takes multiple or continuous forms, which can be visualised as a four-dimensional vector space. This premise finds fertile ground in the digital space, since it promotes syncretism between the dimensions of time and space. Thiemo Kloss develops the series Dark Blue (2014) by visualising transformations and changes that shape society, such as collective consciousness, data, online behaviour, and computer usage, that are contemplated against the backdrop of transparency, anonymity and disintegration.


For David Harvey (2006), space and time have been homogenised on the one hand and fragmented on the other, like commodities, and constituting a mainstay of capitalism and globalisation. This reading aims to understand the process that alters the relationship between space and time namely through technological innovation and globalisation. Associated to this, digital time would be, simultaneously, homogeneous and almost infinitely fragmented in the multiple synchronous and asynchronous temporalities that coexist in the network. Questioning the “Decisive Moment“ in photography, he constructs each image from a fragmented and expanded time: each one is made of numerous cut out vertical lines, derived from photographs of one and the same person in different positions. By first painstakingly arranging the lines per shot, he creates a set of more or less transparent images, which are subsequently slotted into each other.



Thiemo Kloss, Dark Blue, 2014.


Thiemo Kloss, Dark Blue, 2014.


Thiemo Kloss’ works present ways in which technology can alter how we experience and perceive space and time, by changing their coordinates and adopting new conceptual and photographic approaches to understand this new spatiotemporal reality.


Thiemo Kloss, Dark Blue, 2014.


Further exploring space in digital reality, the photographer creates virtual landscapes in his work Rise (2019). Combining digital and analog techniques, the formation of the images was similar to a traditional work process in the darkroom.


I wanted to deepen my interest in technological progress and its impact on society, as well as develop my approach of repetition, control and correction. Issues that I have dealt with in my previous work, such as separation, order, and dissolution, also play a role here, as do man-made environments and my fascination for statistics. While my work has been very graphic so far, I have tried to create a greater depth effect in this series.

To carry out the work, first, Thiemo Kloss says he stacked twenty sheets of acrylic and constructed a wooden frame to hold them together. After erecting the construction, he projected images onto the acrylic panels with a projector in a way the light was visible wherever dust particles were found on the first acrylic plate. The light prolonged through the rest of the layers, where it slowly fades out. For the projection he used pictures that he has found on the internet and also pictures he has taken himself. “Especially important were pictures with hard contrasts and large black areas. For the recording, I select a certain section of the projection and photograph it with a long-time exposure. During the exposure, I dodge parts while highlighting others”, he attests.



Thiemo Kloss, Rise, 2019.


He builds a landscape of lights on a cyberspace, which produces a multiple and fragmented network of infrastructures and relations, through which new spatiotemporal configurations are continuously created. The "deterritorialisation" of global social organisation conferred by digital technology is an issue shared by a growing number of authors, leading them even to think about the uses of the words “place” (which brings the idea of proximity) and “space” (perceived as something generic). Thus, from this perspective, not only virtual spaces, but the globalised city itself is permeated by multiple spatialities.



Thiemo Kloss, Rise, 2019.



ON THE ARCHIVE...

Through my way of working I end up with lots of images for each project. For example in my first series “White Rooms“ I took thousands of shots of the same person in different positions. I worked on the images that I had in my mind, but I realised that I could use the shots that I collected to create new images all the time. So somehow I built an archive without even thinking about it. I am excited to browse through the folders now, but the beginning was out of sheer necessity. As I construct my images from various shots the archive is a kind of resource from which I can extract the things I need. For my first couple of series, I would sometimes just need a day of shooting and come back home with hundreds or even thousands of images. I would then use parts of these images to create the whole series. But for my recent works, I usually come back to the same location several times to take dozens of images from different angles, details and people. So I have small archives for each image now.


ON THE LAST 10 YEARS...

I started photographing when moving to China for an internship to document my surroundings and photography seemed the most convenient way to do that. Over the years my focus changed from documenting to expressing my thoughts and feelings but photography still remained the most convenient way. I would say that photography is a tool for me and I don't spend time thinking about it. It is transforming with the technological progress and I am adapting new applications when they seem useful to me. Gradually I started working with moving images and recently with 3D and everything is adding a little more freedom to my expression.


ON DISCOVERIES IN THE ARCHIVE...

Since I recently started working with 3D I was browsing through libraries of digital assets. I was overwhelmed by the sheer amount of objects available and the endless creative possibilities. It felt like diving into a digital copy of our real world. There, I found a tree that was exactly the kind of tree growing along a parking lot I photographed. For the first time I downloaded and incorporated a digital object in my works. And it fitted so seamlessly in the image like the tree had been planted there many years ago.


 

REFERENCES

Harvey, David. Space as a Keyword, 2006



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