The artistic research project Teleportation takes as a starting point Robert Smithson´s concept of site-nonsite, and examines how the photograph transports reality between locations. How the photograph acts as a form of distant seeing. "Teleportation" is a word used to denote a fictional technology or magic, that can disintegrate matter and send it through space in order to re-appear at another location in an instant. In a similar way, the photographic imprint brings distant realities into our proximity, and the optical depth-illusion of the photograph enables the viewer to “be” completely different places than that of their body.
In the project, the application of this term on photography functions as a creative tool for generating artworks, that in turn, may shed light on how photography relates to space and spatial perception. Firstly, photographs appear to transport “reality”, or “experience” from one location to another by the way that the technological process of photography is structured: recording something at one location, and then re-creating it somewhere else. Secondly, when viewing photographs, the consciousness of the viewer is in a sense separated from his/her physical body and transported back to the location where the photo was taken. By introducing an element of sculpture into photographic image material, I attempt to subvert this mechanism.
The primary subject matter for the Teleportation project is a vast lava field. It was created in 2014 from a fissure eruption in the ground, and left 85km2 of new earth crust on a vast sand plain. Working with such a subject was motivated by a curiosity as to whether it would be possible to locate a “neutral” raw material in the age of the antropocene; a slice of earth that was “untouched” and “unmapped”. On a symbolic level, this virginal quality, along with the semi abstract and highly detailed surface of the lava rocks, make it suitable as a material from which to build new and unexpected forms of photography.
Fragments of this lava field are photographed with a self developed layering technique, which allows me to create subtle three-dimensionality in the resulting photographic objects: The objects represent each rock fragment in a 1:1 scale, and is built up of 25-40 hand-cut layers of photographic print paper, each representing a level of elevation on the object, not unlike an architectonic landscape model. The object is then trimmed along the contour of the rock depicted, resulting in a strange image form hovering somewhere photograph, relief and sculpture.
In my installations I build up an elaborate scenography around these works. In the previous show at Rom 61 in KMD, I designed a self-contained, monumental structure within the exhibition space, that took on a sculptural role of its own, reminiscent of minimalist or brutalist objects. Within this structure we meticulously built a room intended to be a hyper-version of a white cube, with elements that also hinted toward laboratories, science fiction aesthetics and spaces of worship. In this space the photographic work was displayed on the floor. A lot of work was put into details, in order to create a viewing situation thoroughly detached- and different from ordinary experience. As such, the viewing experience may take on a fictional or illusory character of its own, where the viewer finds him/herself as an active part of a viewing “performance”, that facilitates a sensual, rather than intellectual encounter with the object.
This had the strange effect of causing some viewers to not recognise the photographic object as photographic, casting doubt about what they were looking at, and blocking the otherwise transparent, referential character of photographic images. In this sense I had cancelled out the teleportation aspect of the photograph, leaving behind an object that is paradoxically premised on a strict adherence to correctly re-creating the lava rocks, but by doing so, taking on a distinct object-character of its own. I see this form of craft- and object-oriented approach to such an increasingly immaterial and virtual medium as the photograph, as having a potential for opening up for discussions regarding both the ontology and indexicality of traditional photographic images, as well as discussions that relate to how the photograph has transformed into a fast, and mass produced form of currency in the age of the internet and other digital formats and archives.