Friday, January 12, 2018

the-traveller - Taking the Long View

Löwenburger Hof - posted 31 October 2017

 In my last post I talked about the need for those of us working in art to take the long view, maintaining a practice which like wine in the cellar matures and should get better and build over time. 

Jens Sundheim and Bernhard Reuss are the-traveller and their collaborative practice is now in its 17 year. In every sense this is an art practise that takes the long view. Below is what they say about themselves...

Jens speaks: You can watch me.

For 16 years now I have been following the traces of public webcams: cameras installed in public or private spheres that automatically record images and spread them via internet.

I research where they are located, travel there, and get myself photographed. I was in New York and Moscow, London, Las Vegas and Singapore. I went to more than 700 webcams in 20 countries – so far.
In New York, I was taken in police custody after standing around in front of a traffic webcam, and was later interrogated by the FBI.

Once I arrive at a webcam location, I place myself in front of the camera. As »The Traveller«, I stare back into the cam. Same clothes, same pose, every time. Dark jacket and trousers, bright shirt and a shoulder bag. You can recognize me in every image. You can watch me.

Caught by the camera, I start a second, virtual journey. I travel to every web-connected device around the globe, visible to everyone who browses the corresponding website. I contact a photographer to save the transmitted image, before it is replaced by a newer one, and vanishes.

People notice. Sometimes, at least. They wonder what I am doing. Stare in the same direction as I do, trying to see what I see. Sometimes they ask me about it. Some got angry. But mostly they just seem puzzled for an instant, and carry on.

A lot of questions may arise. Who sets up these automated cameras, and why? What do they show? Are people aware of them? Who looks at their images? Does someone need these images? Does the presence of a camera alters a site? What constitutes a photographic image in terms of authorship or quality?

»The Traveller« project examines borders of private and public grounds, global spread of imagery between irrelevance, information and surveillance, and the aesthetics involved.

Among many other places, The Traveller encountered the legendary coffee machine world's first webcam was pointed at, the ESA European Space Agency main control room, a huge cactus observed by four cameras, numerous front gardens and backyards, and the inside of a New York police station cell - arrested for strange behaviour. 

Jens Sundheim
Born 1970 in Dortmund, Germany. Studied information science, then photography at University of Applied Sciences and Arts Dortmund, University of Plymouth in Exeter, England and HAW Hamburg. Based in Dortmund. 

Bernhard Reuss
Born 1966 in Wiesbaden, Germany. Studied photography at University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Dortmund. Numerous works with the camera obscura. Since 2006 engaged in a photography art space. Lives and works in Wiesbaden, Germany. 

You can go to the-traveller website HERE.

Bauakademie Oberösterreich - posted 29 September 2017

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