Jon Horvath & Hans Gindlesberger
April 22 – June 8, 2019
Photography, cinema, and newer technologies like Street View share a relation as mediums that have been used as surrogates for travel and a way of augmenting our lived experience. While serving a similar impulse, each platform delivers its own unique perception of reality. In choreographing a mashup of content that offers varied perspectives of a place, artists Jon Horvath and Hans Gindlesberger overlay iconic images with the virtual landscape. Relying on the vernacular of the digital image, an intelligent computer process is then allowed to determine how those two sets of information will interact and composite, creating a virtual pilgrimage to the sites where photography and cinematography made history.
Continuing in the tradition of re-photographic projects, we use the Internet and immersive travel simulators, such as Google Street View and Bing Streetside, to virtually journey to sites where iconic images from the history of photography and cinema were created. Photography, cinema, and newer technologies like Street View share a relation as mediums that have been used as surrogates for travel and a way of augmenting our lived experience. While serving a similar impulse, each platform delivers its own unique perception of reality. In choreographing a mashup of content that offers varied perspectives of a place, we overlay the iconic image with the virtual landscape and then, relying on the vernacular of the digital image, allow an intelligent computer process to determine how those two sets of information will interact and composite.
To further the dialogue between the camera’s witnessing of the physical landscape and the mediated experience of its virtual equivalent, the images are written back into by glitching them with information gathered while researching the locations of the photographs. Navigating the Internet to find these locations is an exercise in traversing a hyperlinked set of stories, dead ends, data sets, news accounts, and testimonies. These signposts are presented below the image in an arrangement that produces a dialogue between the physical world and the datastream, past and present, banality and spectacle, filmic narratives and anonymous landscapes, amongst many other unanticipated relations. We seek to leverage these complex layers of mediation in creating a new form of image that asks questions about our experience or non-experience of places through the proxy of the electronic image.
Street Scene is an ongoing collaboration currently comprised of 25-30 completed works. The finished works are exhibited on non-destructive adhesive inkjet fabric in order to best approximate the flatness of a screen.
JON HORVATH’s interdisciplinary practice adapts systems-based strategies to photography, performance, and new media works. His work is influenced by American literature, pop culture, and his interest in experimenting with narrative strategies within transmedia projects. Horvath received his MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2008, and a BAS in both English Literature and the History of Philosophy from Marquette University in 2001. His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally in venues including: The Print Center (Philadelphia), FIESP Cultural Centre (Sao Paolo, Brazil), Gyeonggi Art Center (Suwon, South Korea), OFF Piotrkowska (Lodz, Poland), Newspace Center for Photography (Portland), the Haggerty Museum of Art (Milwaukee), INOVA (Milwaukee), Colorado Photographic Arts Center, and Johalla Projects (Chicago). His work is currently held in the permanent collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Haggerty Museum of Art, and is included in the Midwest Photographers Project at the Museum of Contemporary Photography. Horvath has been a full-time Interim Associate Professor in the New Studio Practice program at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design since 2015. www.jonhorvath.net
HANS GINDLESBERGER lives and works in upstate New York. His work covers a broad range of photographic thinking and making. While remaining uncommitted to a singular approach or aesthetic, his practice is anchored to an ongoing interest in places, whether real, manufactured, or imaginary, and in playful subversions of the photographic process. His projects, spanning photography, video, installation, and new media, have been exhibited at over 120 exhibitions across North and South America, Europe, and Asia. He has lectured and given visiting artist seminars at universities and galleries throughout the United States and at international conferences. Many projects or single images have also been featured in magazines, books, textbooks, and exhibition catalogs. Gindlesberger received his MFA in photography from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 2006 and is currently Assistant Professor of Photography at Binghamton University in New York. www.gindlesberger.com
The following questions are intended to provide insight into the artist's process, how they got started and what inspires them.
Was there a person or event that got you started creating your art? Does that person or event continue to influence the work that you do?
JH: It’s all pretty silly, but I was a baseball player before I was a musician and I was a musician before I was an artist. Michael Stipe of R.E.M., in some weird way, became a bit of an aspirational figure for me and helped me to see beyond the confines of my young thinking. So, I’ll give some credit there.
HG: I got started making art in restaurants. When I was a kid, before smartphones and video games, when my family would go out to eat, my parents brought a pen and had me draw on the placemats. However, I gave up on this a long time ago.
At what point did you consider yourself an artist?
JH: At the point where things I was making served as a meaningful conduit between myself and other people. I grew up very shy and still am. Knowing I can make something that someone will spend time considering and allow me to connect with them proved to me that what I was making had purpose.
HG: I got serious about art as a career path at the start of my final year in high school. My guidance counselor pushed me to drop my art class in favor of Advanced Physics. I didn’t do it, so I guess that’s when it was decided.
Who or what inspires you and why?
JH: All people and all things. I truly believe that we are shaped by the cumulative experiences we have. So, I try to have as many varying experiences as I can handle.
HG: As a photographer, I’m curious about the way technology has always intermittently reconfigured what photography looks like and how it’s made. Photography also has a social aspect that’s unique among other art forms, so it’s uses changes over time as well to satisfy current needs and desires. The unfixed nature of the medium makes it an exciting space to work in.
What was the first piece of art you made? Do you remember why you made it? What materials did you use and why?
JH: My parents tell me that I made a drawing as a child that I titled “Face Dirt”. I still like that title today, though the drawing has yet to be located. I see that as my first moment of true individual expression.
HG: Impossible to say. It would’ve been something made when I was really young, which I don’t think invalidates whatever it was as a piece of art.
Are there any programs or learning opportunities that you wish you had as a young artist?
JH: I’m a teacher now and always encourage my students to pursue internships, studio assistantships, and to travel. Those are things I didn’t have exposure to as a young artist and feel lucky that I still found my way despite a bumpy path. I think being exposed to people who are just a little further down the road than you are can be enormously transformative.
HG: I grew up in a rural area. My family exposed me to a lot of culture and museums, but I don’t think I encountered a working artist until I studied art in college. It would have been hugely influential to understand what a contemporary art practice looks like before that.
What would you say to a young person to encourage their study and practice of art?
JH: Be a sponge. Embrace failure. Do all of the things. Then do more of them. Don’t worry about if you are doing the right, wrong, expected, acceptable thing. Listen to your “2am overtired pizza eating” self as much as you can. Those are generally where the best ideas come from. And care about what you do. If you don’t, most everyone else won’t either.
HG: Be curious and no matter how much instruction you get inside the classroom, make sure you teach yourself more outside of school.
The following questions are intended to create insight into the artist’s practice and why they think art is important.
Is this your first and only career? If not, what other jobs have you had and how have they influenced your artistic practice?
JH: I was a residential house painter for 15 years. I did that to support my time in school and while I was accumulating enough teaching experience to establish a full-time professor job. Being a house painter taught me the value of labor, time management, communicating myself to an audience/client, and learning that evolution and learning is a slow process. When I am frustrated in my studio, I remind myself that when I began painting houses I thought I could wash oil brushes in the kitchen sink. Fortunately, that was a forgiving client.
HG: Working as an artist has gone hand in hand with teaching. At the university level, at least, it’s a profession that tries to give the time and support needed to maintain a creative practice. And, of course, working with young students, who bring a changing perspective to what you’re teaching, keeps you from becoming too rigid in your thinking.
Do you like people to see your work/comment on it while it is still in process? Why?
JH: I’ve come to a point where I invite in a small group of targeted individuals who really know my work and my interests. In the early going, it’s good to get as many perspectives about your work as you can, as it helps you to learn how you feel about your own work. But, there can certainly be too many cooks in the kitchen and not everybody is on the same procedural wavelength. To that end, I have about 4 or 5 people who are the regular eyes and ears for my projects and I owe them an enormous debt of gratitude.
HG: Sometimes I like to gauge a general level of interest if I’m working on a new project, so I might post an image to social media, without any context, just to see what sort of reception it gets.
Do you have a daily artistic ritual or routine? If so, how does this help you?
JH: Not daily, but weekly. As I’m now in an educational calendar, it’s difficult to achieve daily attention to my practice. So, I typically put in 1-2 long days in the studio a week. I like a secluded space. I arrive, I read, I make, I nap, I eat, I make, I probably check Instagram, I make, I clean, I leave feeling like I at least cleared my head, but recognize how much more I need to do.
HG: Nothing regimented, other than a belief in the benefits of daily work. I try to do something every day that keeps momentum, either in the studio or in aspects of professional practice.
What inspiration/research led you to your current body of work?
JH: I typically have multiple bodies of work going simultaneously. In addition to “Street Scene”, I’m currently finishing up a project called “This Is Bliss” that explores the mythologies surrounding happiness and the mythologies of the American West as they intersect in a small town in Idaho called Bliss. That body of work was largely inspired by a moment of rediscovering myself as I serendipitously passed the rural town while on a road trip out west.
HG: My most current work (not what’s featured in the show) is interested in the material qualities of the photographic object. I’m interested in whether we can think about photography and think photographically, in the absence of the camera’s image.
What caused you to gravitate toward the materials and processes you are currently using?
JH: There’s really no easy way for me to answer that. The materials and processes I use vary considerably depending on the ideas I’m working with. Photography is typically my point of departure, but I often transition elsewhere. I like to call photography my “songwriter’s acoustic guitar”. As a young musician, I would often begin there, but then by the end of building a musical composition, the original piece of music may be far off in the distance.
HG: It started when I used 3D modeling software in a photographic project. Then I began processing photographs using photogrammetry software, which resulted in a wireframe rendering of the camera’s subject, without any of the photographic detail it captured. That led me to creating a series of crayon rubbings of every major photographic process to capture a physical impression of the photograph without its image. Now, I’m creating three-dimensional glass castings of photographs and using them as negatives in the darkroom to create a photographic impression of the photograph’s physical form.
The following questions are intended to offer insight into the artist’s current work and what they intend their audience to understand.
What role does process have in your work?
JH: Process is a huge component of my work. Labor, endurance, and repetitive acts serve as moments of performance that allow me to immerse myself deeply in an idea.
HG: A lot of my work involves process and using photography in ways that aren’t necessarily intended or part of conventional practice. I appreciate work that has concept embedded in process and makes a tight correlation between materials, subject matter, and concept.
How do you know when a piece is complete?
JH: When I start repeating myself without value.
HG: I don’t think I’m a very good judge. If I finish something, I usually leave it alone for a few days or weeks, then go back to it and re-evaluate. More often than not, on second look I get the sense that I did too much with the image. Since most of my work is made on the computer, I find myself often walking back some of the work I did.
What is the one idea/thought you hope people will have/take away with them after viewing your work?
JH: To look closely, question the world around you, and realize that there is no shortage of meaningful experiences to be had.
HG: With “Street Scene” I think it’s a good project to contemplate the way contemporary life is bifurcated between lived and virtual experience, reality and fantasy, and truth and lies. As the divisions between those binaries break down, what’s authentic and what’s not?
Why do you create art?
JH: To get ideas out of my head that don’t have a better place to go. And to hopefully invite moments where I recognize likeminded people in the world and they recognize me back.
HG: It’s a struggle and there’s a lot of excuses or good reasons not to, so I suppose you keep on doing it because you’re compelled to.
What role does the artist have in society? Why do you think art is important to society?
JH: I think artists are visual philosophers. They have the ability and courage to ask challenging questions, start difficult conversations, and reconsider the worlds we inherit. And they have the privilege of exciting both the intellect and the sensory tools of their audiences.
HG: Artists have an important role to play in transmitting complex, difficult, problematic, or contentious ideas and ethics in ways that are accessible, empathetic, and are ultimately responsible for moving public opinion.
Why do you think it’s important to support the arts?
JH: Because much of the world has deemed the arts unnecessary, a luxury, entertainment, shallow, self-indulgent. I believe that the arts are the nexus point of all experience and not some phenomenon that lives in a distant place that only the privileged few can access. Some of the smartest, hardest working, compassionate, radical, empathetic, transformational, community-minded people I know are artists. One can learn about history, science, literature, psychology, religions, economics, social justice, politics, and so many other things through a deep dive into the arts. Artists are willing to engage and they need those that have the ability to support them to reciprocate.
HG: The arts get maligned too often, but it’s fairly unpleasant to imagine a world without beauty, music, television, radio, storytelling, or design and the skilled people that create the things we interact with every day.