Artist Thomas KellnerPublications

Thomas Kellner: Mexiko

title: Mexiko

editor (Herausgeber): Thomas Kellner

authors (Autoren): Fernando Castro R., Matthias Koppitz

artists (Künstler): Thomas Kellner

format: 29,7×21cm | 11,7×8,3inches, 80 pages, hardcover

languages (Sprachen): German, English, Spanish

publisher (Verlag): seltmann+söhne

ISBN 978-3-942831-21-5

published (year): 2011

edition (Auflage): N.N.

price: 29,80€


Interview mit Jan Reppahn von Radio Siegen

Contacts of an infinite city

The way human vision works is better modeled by one of the composite photographs of Thomas Kellner than by a painting of Johann Moritz Rugendas (1803-1858), a German traveler who visited Mexico around 1832. This claim is not based on the difference between the two media, but between them and human vision. The photographic camera is a misleading model for human vision, and vice versa. It is only an illusion generated by our synthesizing brain that human vision captures an entire scene at once the way a photographic camera does. In fact, by adding rapid eye scans that fix on small portions of the visual field at a time the brain constructs a ‘scene’ that never really ‘holds’ but is constantly being ‘reconstructed’ as we shift the focus of our attention. The technique of composing with multiple photographic images that Kellner has been using since 1997 to make us see anew the most iconic architectural structures in the world —from Stonehenge to Teotihuacán—closely parallels that visual process.

In a sense analog film photography, the material means of Kellner’s technique, is rapidly becoming as historical as the buildings he photographs. Kellner constructs a scene by a succession of photographic ‘shots’ that are arranged in a grid of columns and rows. Once developed, the photographic film is contact-printed so that a composite scene comes together from the small rectangular frames. Along the edges of each filmstrip one can read the information of the brand and kind of film he used, and of the number of each “frame.” At least these two elements —contact printing and film information—would vanish if Kellner were to continue his project with digital photography. Its fragmented look could remain the same, but the means of delivery would have to be other than that very intimate way of delivering images by having film ‘touch’ the photographic paper: contact printing.

Thus Kellner’s technique, aesthetic, and project have the overtones of a swan song for they come at a point of transition of the medium. Moreover, in the entropic look of his depictions there is something both archaeological and calamitous. That elusive quality is partially addressed by his choice of “Ozymandias” for the title of one of his earlier books. “Ozymandias” is an alias of Egyptian pharaoh Ramesses II and it is generally associated with the vanity of power so blind that it is doomed to ruin. The name transfigured into literature in the 1818 poem Ozymandias by the Romantic English poet Percy Bisshe Shelley (1792-1822). 1 To be sure, Kellner’s aesthetic is not Romantic, but rather a post-modern tour-de-force that takes on the challenge of re-presenting architectural landmarks that have been copiously photographed by both amateurs and professionals since the invention of photography and of continuing that tradition with more recent buildings. By its very technique though, the aesthetic of the project connotes breakdown. Although it is an aesthetic that certainly diverges from the documentary tradition to which it alludes, it does not negate it altogether. So in engaging Kellner’s work there is still some leeway and indeed, reason, to speak not only about the depiction but also about its referents.

Thomas Kellner is not the first or only artist to have used this technique, but he is the only one to have turned it into a personal poetics. Granting crucial differences, an important counterpart to his work is the one the English painter David Hockney explored in the 1980s. However, Hockney did not contact print but collaged small prints guided by the alternative sense of space and time with which he wished to nuance actual scenes.

Multiple fotografische Abbildungen

Im Jahr 2006 besuchte Thomas Kellner Mexiko Stadt und fotografierte architektonische Werke, mit seiner eigenen, unverwechselbaren Technik.
Die eindrücklichen und ungesehenen Bilder sind nun in seinem neuen Buch zu entdecken.

"Wie das menschliche Sehen funktioniert wird besser von einer der zusammengesetzten Fotografien Thomas Kellners modelliert, als von einem Gemälde Johann Moritz Rugendas‘ (1803–1858), ein deutscher Reisender, der Mexiko um das Jahr 1832 bereiste. Diese Behauptung beruht nicht auf dem Unterschied zwischen den beiden Medien, sondern zwischen diesen und dem menschlichen Sehen.

Die fotografische Kamera ist ein irreführendes Modell für das menschliche Sehen, wie auch umge-kehrt. Es ist eine durch unser synthetisierendes Gehirn generierte Illusion, dass das menschliche Sehen eine ganze Szene in einem einfängt, wie dies eine fotografische Kamera tut. Indem in jedem Moment rasche Abtastvorgänge der Augen aufsummiert werden, die auf kleine Ausschnitte des visuellen Feldes fixiert sind, konstruiert das Gehirn viel eher eine ‚Szene‘, welche nie wirklich ‚vorhält‘, sondern ununterbrochen ‚rekonstruiert‘ wird, während wir den Fokalpunkt unserer Aufmerksamkeit schweifen lassen.

Die Technik des Bildkomponierens mit multiplen fotografische Abbildungen, wie sie Kellner seit 1997 anwendet, um uns die am meisten ikonischen Architekturwerke der Welt – von Stonehenge zu Teotihuacán – neu sehen zu lassen, kommt diesem visuellen Prozess sehr nahe." (Auszug, Fernando Castro R. Houston, Texas)

100 copies were sold with an special edition print.

Thank you to everyone who made this book possible by ordering a signed copy in advance

Roland Abel, Art Galerie Siegen, Dietlinde Bamberger, Eric Banks und Lois Wilson, Ardis A. Bartle, Jan und Anne Behle, Hubertus und Ingeborg Behle, Aki E. Benemann, John Blaisdell, Wolfgang Böhringer, Michael Bolus und, Maria Freericks, Achim Bohn, Philipp Bojahr, Birgit Bremer, Fernando Castro R., Dorothea Eimert, Max und Christina de Esteban, Michael Faesel, Susanne Ferrero, Rafe Fogel, Wolfgang und Birgit Grösser, Viktor und Doris Groß, John A. and Carola Herrin, Uwe und Christiane Howe, Ursula Huss, in focus Galerie, Burkhard Arnold, Wolf und Rita Jäger, Joachim Jahns, Grit Jerxen, John Cleary Gallery,, Catherine Couturier, Norbert Kandziora, Elisabeth Kellner, Franziska Kellner, Brigitte von Klitzing, Helga Kötting, Kunstsammlung Kreis, Siegen-Wittgenstein, Ferit Kuyas, Freddy Langer, Luzia Linden, Cortland und Isabelle, Lowerison, Armin Menzel, Robert Mison, Joan Morgenstern, Axel Mörtel, Ursula Moll, Uwe Müller, Dan Nelken, Armin und Susanne, Neuser-Moos, Laura Nolden, Helga Oberkalkofen, Werner Ossig, Paul Otter, Rolf und Susan Philips, Martin Rücker, Dagmar Rutsch, Hermann und Gabriele Sausen, Guido Schmidt, Schneider Gallery Chicago, Ingo Schulze-Schnabl, Walter Schwerdfeger, Oliver Seltmann, Städtische Galerie Iserlohn, Boris und Angelique, Stahl-Breitenbach, Gerd Steinmüller, Ulrich und Ch. Steinweg, Patrice Stellest, Stephen Cohen Gallery, Wolfgang Stöcker, Katherina Strösser, Albrecht Thomas, Nelly Thomas, TÜV Rheinland Bildungswerk gGmbH Siegen, VETTER Krantechnik GmbH, Walter Vitt, Ursula Wagener, Frank Günter Zehnder