De collectie van S.M.A.K. in woord en beeld
door Shuxian Lee
Throughout art history, artists have become increasingly aware of the tangible role of the viewer in the perception of a piece of work. The act of looking or the gaze has been tackled upon for centuries, from the brazen gaze of Manet’s Olympia (1863) that stares directly out towards the audience, to the portrayal of Cassatt’s woman holding opera glasses in a determined act of observation in At the Opera (1878 – 1879). In Landscape (2009), Oliver Lutz brings this act of voyeurism to a heightened level of awareness.
When I first enter the room tentatively which holds Lutz’s Landscape, I am faced with a huge black canvas. Later I realise that there are four CCTV video monitors at the side of the room which depict a delayed footage of myself standing in front and observing the canvas that actually had an entire landscape painted underneath the black. I then notice that there are nondescript infrared cameras placed behind me that penetrate the black paint to decipher a whole landscape beneath it. This painted landscape of Albert Steiner’s photograph depicting a shepherd and his flock in front of the Morteratsch Glacier, is then portrayed on the monitors.
Lutz has brilliantly transformed the act of voyeurism into a crucial part of his work itself. We, as viewers, have become part of the image which forms this work as we are also monitored by an external source. Lutz’s use of modern day surveillance technology reminds us of an age where the relationship between the viewer and the subject has become increasingly complicated; there are no clear boundaries between an objective and subjective view as the act of viewing itself has made us complicit with the image.
Landscape not only highlights the subversive and disorienting nature of looking, the mere discovery of being watched itself and of watching yourself trying to figure out an otherwise indiscernible image, is a surreal and mind numbing experience of its own.
Technical info: Oliver Lutz, Landscape (2009) (Triptych: 205″x104″, Acrylic on canvas, CCTV system)
Oliver Lutz’s Landscape (2009) is part of the exhibition Tomorrow Is The Question at the S.M.A.K.