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Tillman Kaiser
The Future of the Future is the Present
6. 9. - 14. 10. 2017
curated by Jiří Havlíček

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The photogram technique is associated with the invention of photography. There is a theory; it is a parallel evolution theory that the photogram has little in common with photography as we know it today. The photogram supposedly lacks a key feature of photography, its reproducibility. Various attempts at mechanical copying of images in industrial production brought Thomas Wedgwood to the first photogram at the end of the eighteenth century. His success, however, was only partial. Even though the true shadow of the placed item appeared on the paper with all the details, the imprint, exposed to daylight, began to slowly fade away after a few days. Eventually, the whole paper blackened, and the image disappeared forever. Stabilizing the imprint took a few years to succeed. First on paper, then on metal and glass plates. The new visual medium became to known as the mirror with a memory. In 1911, Hugo Gernsback, one of the founders of the sci-fi genre, published a book called Ralph 124C 41+. In the text, the following description of life in 2660 appears: "7000 meters above the ground, there is a city covered with a dome, it is floating, it is fully air conditioned, there is absolute rest, there is old-fashioned architecture, there is no telephone, no technology. People from the over-technical world fly here for vacation." Marshall McLuhan, a media theorist, also perceived the future in a similar way when he stated in the 1960s that we drive into the future using only our rear view mirror. Retrograde motion keeps returning us to the past. The future of the future is the present.

Tillman Kaiser's light-sensitive paintings represent a different view on the photochemical process that is the basis of analog photography. Instead of recording reality, he evokes organometric images and photogenic drawings using chemical substances. Black and white compositions sometimes resemble maps of the unconscious, silent astral gates, or Bazin’s non-existent comic book, Factual Hallucination. Cyanotypes (blueprints) and painted details are peculiar references to pictorialism and manual retouching of portraits. On the other hand, photographic records of brush strokes are mere light traces, reproduction of brush strokes. The combination of photogram and traces of brushes re-creates the invention of the nineteenth century while reflecting the current digital situation. According to McLuhan, one of the specific characteristics of the photograph is the possibility to isolate single moments in time. Images in the digital online world, like the first photograms, are constantly disappearing over time. We look into the mirror of oblivion. The present is what has already been.