What are the criteria to select, order and classify information?
“Whatever we can describe at all could be other than it is. There is no a priori order of things,” Ludwig Wittgenstein would reply from the pages his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. The series Book of Life by German artist Anke Schüttler employs photography to produce a reading and a cartographic interpretation of reality, of the objects of the city — Berlin, in this case. Floating through the urban labyrinths and history until the details of the genetic code, Schüttler tries at the same time to understand the naturalized logic that encompasses all visual codes, only to get further away from it and observe it from a sensible distance.
The wire netting blocks the way, but also filters the vision of the forest, of the harmonic or chaotic image of nature, developed without the conditioning of history and culture. The embalmed bird covered with numbers displays a classifying system, similar to a street plan or a scale model. Lines, points, numbers and letters enclose a logic determined by history or chance — “that mysterious information, possible to read but impossible to decipher,” points out Schüttler. The reading of the code can only generate readings, and, in turn, other readings and so on.
In Privado (Private), the project that photographer and filmmaker Karin Idelson developed in parallel and from Buenos Aires for the joint exhibit with Schüttler, the artist concentrated on the cybercafé, the specific sites where information circulates, where it’s read, consumed and interpreted in the loneliness of the head against the monitor, but also where this act happens collectively. Her gaze purposely avoids the “panoramic or explanatory temptations,” the press release remarks. It points towards certain lights, colors, brightnesses, common spaces that look like abstract images — the limits of what the webcam can record, in which the look can settle for a moment to free itself from narration or leave sense and timing aside.
Idelson and Schüttler photograph in a direct and analogue way, as if wanting to escape digital and cybernetic volatility. Intending to transcend the limits of time, their images are embedded within a precise historical moment while, at the same time, they examine the forms of a knowledge that is melded with nature. But, that description could also be other than it is.