is basically a form of documentation of art pieces and artistic activities we (Ronald Kolb, art director, Biotop 3000 and Ute Zeller von Heubach) are involved in.
Andreas Pinczewski, 2012
3 Seconds - An Introduction to the Museum of Excitement and Possibilities
This book is part of a project that involves various individuals, sources, and results: Ute Zeller von Heubach, the painter and art historian, Elmar Mellert, the composer, DJ and poet and Martin Zieske, the filmmaker and accompanying mind; together they devise what one could call visual soundscapes for movies of the imagination, in which image, text, music and time coalesce to, well, something. To call this something installations wouldn't do justice to what one can see when they show in art spaces: non-figurative paintings lit by time-based LED spotlights and accompanied by electronica tracks. Or is it electronica tracks lit by LED spotlights and illustrated by non-figurative paintings? They call them sets, and that's probably just as well what these installations are - sets for an aesthetic statement, whose subject matter is only just about to emerge from within them. They are an offer, a framework for a possibility.
This book is also about three seconds: the time between two photographs taken of one of Ute Zeller von Heubach's paintings at sunrise. These two pictures provide the frame for this book and pose the question whether they are actually two different pictures of the same painting or whether they are rather two distinct paintings captured by the same picturing device. I suspect that the latter assumption is correct. Just as you can never step into the same river twice, you can only see a painting once. The world can simply not provide you with the set necessary to make this possible. There are eons between the beginning of second One and the end of second Three. And these eons are filled with images, thoughts, songs and the poetry of the commonplace, an endless stream of fragments enveloped in this book between two photos. And at the end of second Three the world has irrevocably changed - forever.
This book is not about Koyaanisqatsi, however. One might be tempted at first to discover some similarities in that this book also connects unrelated impressions and thus suggests some hidden continuity in thought, or the storyboard of a film even. But while Fricke's movie is a condensation, an ever-varying display of one leitmotif, this book here acts like the inflation of a thousand things at once. Each second of the three feels as if it never ends. They split up into unexpected areas of associations between a face, an ancient myth and a crashed car, debris on the streets and the wound in the side of Christ as he lies dead in the arms of his mother. Each moment of this book hovers in the air of possibilities like both an afterthought and a foreboding. Not unlike the moment between sleep and waking at sunrise or the cooldown after a nightly trip, each incident in this book represents the fragile state when the liquid world of the imaginary coagulates into the palpably real.
This book is therefore rather about the geometry of sensation, about how the piercing verticality of an exciting moment disperses on the winding horizons of possible contemplation. It's a peculiar dialectic where immediacy transforms into latency that lies at the core of both this book and the project as a whole. Just as those three seconds between two shots of a painting can expand into an eternity, the picture of some pagan creature next to that of a scratched fender can suddenly collapse three thousand years into one nanosecond of screeching pain. In this respect this book behaves just like another book that was written some 40 years ago and lends the current one its odd title, A Fountain of Spraying Crystal Erupted Around Us: it is a modified quote taken from the novel Crash by J. G. Ballard, a highly disturbing piece of literature that could perhaps best be described as some kind of techno-porn.
So is this a book about porn? In a way, yes. One has to look at porn in a more abstract way, however, in order to fully comprehend this: regardless of its depiction of the sexual act what porn does is to displace the usual bond between promise and desire and the fulfilment of it. If it wants to spread its lures successfully a pornographic work will first have to externalize its target's innate sexual drives and project them onto the actors; these actors will then perform what is in fact a featureless and automated act, a succession of unrelated images without sense, that will only have their intended impact if the readers or viewers will make the effort to internalize and make them their own again. This process of estrangement and appropriation is perfectly visualised in Ballard's Crash by juxtaposing and combining the softness of the human body with the hard technological matter of the car, when the fountain of spraying crystal that erupts around the victims of the crash becomes the exquisite moment, when sensation and intimacy enter the museum of excitement and possibility.
And it is this museum that this book is actually about. It's the guide to a place where hookers from suburban shopping malls meet and transform into ancient nymphs; a place where the tender touch of a hand becomes the frozen gesture of the machinery of lust; a place where the goddess of love grants an audience to her suitors on the back seat of a car; a place where the flare of a lens shines like the sun onto a desert of dreams; a place where the future is but a memory of the past and the present is lost among the debris of the night ahead. It's the place where the metallic taste of blood stands as a reminder of the beauty that is Arcadia within.
published in Ute Zeller von Heubach, Phänomene, 2006
Dr. Tobias Wall, 2006
Nature's Phenomena by Ute Zeller von Heubach
When is a painting finished?
Every new painting raises this question. Yet the answer is far from obvious. At best, artists will give you a disturbingly wide range of responses, such as "it's finished, when it's finished", or "never". But often, they become distinctly woolly. An artist recently told me: "When I gaze at the picture and the picture gazes back at me. That's when it gains its independence; it spreads its wings and leaves the nest." But what if this doesn't happen? What if the magic just is not there?
This issue is key to Ute von Heubach's recent work. She is constantly probing to see if paintings are on course for their intended destination. But she has noticed that they are resisting completion. Entirely new worlds of images have been generated that diverge from the artist's original concept. Ute von Heubach has recently been investigating paintings' alternative existence by studying the work of amateur artists. She rummages through jumble sales and bric-a-brac shops to find pictures by hobby painters, and tries to develop the hidden potential in the way the artist first intended.
But her analysis is about much more than ironing out technical imperfections - in fact, she is usually more radical. Ute von Heubach wants to reach to the heart of the picture. With overpainting, colourful streaks and flourishes, she reduces paintings to their fundamental elements, boiling down the essential ideas to something altogether more fresh and coherent.
Some might dismiss this as the typical arrogance of academics towards amateurs. But that would be to completely misunderstand this artistic reworking. Overpainting helps Ute von Heubach investigate the complex relationship between ideas, methods and implementation. She wants to explore the never-ending struggle for the ideal form: the quest for completion. These etudes are part of an exceptionally intensive and critical process - for both the artist and her art.
Ute von Heubach's latest collection is called Nature's Phenomena. The compositions continue in a rich creative vein that is primarily dedicated to the depiction of nature in its broadest sense - using landscapes, but also astronomical motifs. Phenomena doesn't just refer to the mere occurrence of the natural phenomena they depict. The artist uses the term to describe the peculiar and disturbing elements which stand out in these new pictures. They represent a deliberate disorder, which confuses and sometimes even destroys the calculated cohesion of the original creation. These take various guises: simple flecks of paint or imitation burnt patches; traces of colour, as if the artist has been cleaning her brush on the canvas; strange colourful objects, like oversized amoeba swimming across the picture. Or we might see celestial brilliance, partial overexposure, or other major colour shifts. Sometimes a section is left entirely blank, creating a hole at the heart of the image itself.
Phenomena is the logical next step for the artist as she intervenes in the work of amateur artists. By disturbing pictures in this way, she is constantly threatening the existence of the very world she has created. She is deliberately preventing herself from completing a picture, and making it hard for the art to even survive. Ute von Heubach finds conventional structures, the simple implementation of an artistic idea, or a creation brought to life by a skilled craftsman too tedious - even when the concept itself is good. The supposed security with which the painting clings to the canvas provokes Ute von Heubach. She does everything possible to disturb the peace and shatter the status quo. But not for the sake of destructiveness, but in the hope of discovering a new, convincing power at the heart of the painting. A power that only becomes clear when the individual elements have been forced to assert themselves against external interference.
There is one more thing that Ute von Heubach wrestles away from the pictures in her latest collection: the centre. In her earlier work, she placed clear, striking motifs at the heart of the canvas, ensuring calm and order. Now, however, she is keen to muddy these middle waters, and, where possible, to remove the centre altogether. This is generally the point where we like to rest our eyes, or use as a guide through the picture. But here Ute von Heubach creates strange, meaningless areas, which remain senseless in spite of the greatest effort to create meaning or association. For this, she uses discoloration, different resolutions, and Nature's Phenomena. These meaningless voids are like creative fallows in the finely cultivated landscape of the painting. They represent anarchic refuges, constantly challenging the logical cosmos of the picture. There are those who secretly search for security and validation in art (and especially paintings). As always, these people will find this lack of centre shocking and frightening. But you won't find this in Ute von Heubach's latest art.
One thing is clear. If you are looking for a definitive answer, the work of Ute von Heubach will not help you discover when a picture can be truly called finished. On the contrary, in her latest collection, the artist leaves no stone unturned as she uses her Phenomena to tackle supposedly finished paintings and to destroy their apparently fixed peace. Her constructive confusion is an art form that seeks to find something extraordinary in the ordinary.