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One's look goes from left to right, from right to left, up and down, through light and dark zones, through confused swirling fore- and backgrounds, at times more quickly, at times more slowly, progressing like an optical Autobahn, that slithers through time and space. Scarcely is it possible to distinguish a clear, singular goal in Martin Liebscher's panoramas. Well hidden is the one solid point, to which all lines connect and from which the image can be conventionally deciphered. Rarely recognizable is the established orientation of a horizon that is capable of holding the wandering glance in balance. The world appears to tumble completely out of control. Images like these agitate the nerves like the sound of scratching on a chalk board. They also rouse however, and stimulate the lethargic mind into intensity.
It is obvious from the start: Liebscher's images are about speed, with Ac- and deceleration. Even through the first encounter, one realizes the different velocities in the photographs, achieved by the possibility to exaggerate and constrict time. Those giving the images an orderly and cursory glance will be serious hindered, only in the next moment to be drawn into another dizzying whirl. Take for example the photograph from a helicopter in New York, which tells in all its facets, of movement. We see through the action of the rotating blades, and we understand, that the camera itself, during the exposure, is in motion, and that the film too was spooled by the open lens. We register in the photograph the condensation stripes like the wiping of the object, suggesting the speed, then diminishing and swelling of music, comparable lighting changes, and not lastly likened to the measure of the extreme, horizontal rhythm off the verticals. All of that has a phrasing, it has a goal: the presentation of movement in a space.
Similarly compressed are the pans from moving automobiles. There again interior and exterior space is melded, but sometimes with unlike movements on the most unrelated levels, flowing into one another. A photograph from the highest possible balcony drags a view by the opposite facing house's facade, and one with a decorated railing of antique vases in the foreground, in an alley, and finally again over the roofs into the depth of the space, and then the open blue sky. In another work, there is a view through a dense frame of steel, concrete, and construction equipment of a skyscraper construction site, in a cityscape, and under a blue sky; blurred in a way that it is equitably legible from left to right, top to bottom, and respectively so in reverse direction. Thus is the creation of a picture that reminds one of the condition of zero gravity, of a perspective in which up and down exist simply as conventions. Achieved for a short moment is the association with the weight of the wind flowing through a church's interior; identifiable with a feather, we could possibly perceive a similar impression of when time and space coagulate. All of this and naught, shored on clarity, and the majority established in a blur, slightly over- or underexposed photographs, possess a singular atmosphere. This is comparable to a characteristic smell, intense and with accompanying information, whereby it is at least possible to approximately determine the time and place of the photograph. Nevertheless it all remains like the swelling spring in a river.
Scarcely would something in these pictures be fixated upon, as those of the artist-engineers of the 15th and 16th centuries with their construction of central perspectives. The world will not be submitted to the coordinates of a grid, that enables the measure of individual objects to be brought in an exactly defined relationship. These photographs diverge from the supposition of a single body in a space. Liebscher's images speak much more about the multifaceted phenomena of a mobile existence. Those who exclusively weigh, measure, and count to understand addiction, those who first determine the validity of an experiment when it is always and everywhere justifiable, would perhaps sense disappointment. Liebscher's photographs are not selectively repeatable, because in them, chance facilitates; and the imagined role that the conventional distribution of an object's cognitive properties, fundamentally calls stationary subjects into question. The boundary between both contradictory sides dissolves one another, their positions change their destiny, so that motion appears in what was stationary, and visa versa.
During the painting of an entire body, or at least movement of the hand in the drawing of a picture; motion, used to create an image would be considered excessive with the discovery of photography: it was usually explicitly undesirable. It was proper- at least during the crucial moment of exposure- to hold the camera and one's self still. Blurred photographs were rarely accept in this genre. Liebscher moves not only that which is already held to his moving body, but the film as well. The light sensitive stripe of celluloid is spooled past the open lens in a more or less even motion. Thereby the body- and camera movement, parallel to the movement of the film, results in images, that for the viewer, can still be read as individual pieces, or perhaps not just as an atmosphere, but surrendered as the illegible glimmer.
Liebscher's pictures illustrate in a poetic way, life as a flurry, as a process, which the viewer can not quietly and noncommittally stand opposed; rather it is one that engages. Here time is presented as something which actually does not exist, rather it marks a condition in which there is no abeyance or standstill. But also a flight, that continually looses its understanding of the world from which it leaves traces. In this, Liebscher engages himself, where he tries to capture some of the duality between standstill and flurry in an image. And thus the photographs depict motion, with out moving themselves. Illustrated with them is comprehension as the comprehension of time. Specifically the tension of "before-now-later" is not completely resolved, and therewith a direction extenuated; nevertheless the course of time remains severely deformed, and in many cases thoroughly unintentionally so. The viewer makes their own rhythm based on before, after, and now. Perhaps he/she understands motion as a changing continuous game and not as a flight from a time point, or the push for a goal. While the rabbit grows weary, the hedgehog does not participate in the flurry, rather he hangs enjoyably in time's flux, and is always both at the start and the finish.
(Translation by Matthew O´Malia)
Published in Inside Out by Martin Liebscher
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