c-print on aluminium, Hubert Blanz, 2002
Geographical Shapes in Space
Like his previous work entitled Digital Surroundings and the series called Digital City, Blanz begins his recent investigation of ‘geographical shapes in space’ with a choice of source material. In this particular case it is a range of printed circuit boards, i.e. mounting boards with an array of integrated circuits, ready to be equipped with electronic components.
Blanz embarks on an ambiguous strategy. Contrary to what would be expected, he is not solely working along compositional or metaphorical lines to produce general impression, but rather according to the principle of singularity in seeking out intrinsic and unique qualities of the raw material. Rejecting the fundamental linguistic duality of signifier and signified, i.e. the meaning behind the objectively visible surface of an observed entity from which the latter must be distinguished, Blanz initially focuses exclusively on qualities immediately accessible through the act of ‘pure’ perception. In the course of adding one circuit board to another, characteristic properties such as materiality, specific colour, layer buildup, perforations, thickness of the elements and the corresponding shadows produced under controlled light conditions, tactility and texture convey the impression of a ‘grown’ spatial structure.
On another level, Blanz uses the raw material to evoke associative relations among its inherent structural and spatial qualities and forms of representation, commonly known from aerial photographs of urban and rural landscapes taken from large distances by special orbiting satellites. In order to identify the single image, this analogy is taken still further by indications of the scale of depiction and the title of the series itself. In conjunction with the continued act of joining the circuit boards, which – according to Blanz – aim at aerial and spatial continuity in texture and shape, producing a sense of physical and psychological involvement, this observation may be seen in the light of similarities between his approach to that of a town planner. Town planning is not solely based on ‘formal’ considerations such as choice of building prototypes, traffic- and circulation systems, etc., but strives (or rather should strive) for a balanced relationship between functional and perceptual criteria of individual and collective urban appropriation, whereby – whether consciously or not – subjective ‘worldviews’ inevitably slip into the picture. Geospaces emits a pleasant balance of the above mentioned planning criteria, putting this work neither too close to actual conditions of reality and its forms of representation nor making the rawness of his material immediately apparent. Hence the work brokers a state of standstill and indifference, further exemplified by the fact that in correlation with the scale of depiction, the image format chosen neither limits the content nor does it lack coherent self-reference, making it difficult to fully access its meaning. The beholder is right where Blanz began: the thread of the texture has to be taken up in order to push the process forward.
Wolfgang Fiel (english original version)