Artworks on display by Memo Akten, Peter Edwards, Sasha Engelmann & Sophie Dyer, Fabian Heller, Rosa Menkman, Susan Schuppli, UCNV and Alan Warburton and others
Concept by Rosa Menkman
Images are pervasive; they are used to entertain, to guide, to serve as evidence or as tools for discovery. But they can also be invisible, made for machines and by machines in order to filter, track, classify, sort, or delete. As such, they constitute and influence the fabric of our everyday lives. Sometimes it is even said that one's life is now ruled by a regime of the optical. How are such regimes constructed?
In order for an object or thing – light or other type of data – to enter the visible domain and to become an image, it needs to be resolved. It needs to pass through a process involving standards, rules and compromises. As a result, under the fold of our image processing technologies, there is a complex system that constitutes our images and the optical regime we abide by.
Spanning from all possible images to invisible images, im/possible images brings together strategies and methods of making visible. It also explores the conditions of image making today, by posing questions like: how do resolutions shape images and how does the process of resolving compromise its rendering? Can one listen to an image? When do aberrations and translations turn into false representations? And how has the field of computer simulation expanded the rules and functioning of our imagery?
Initiated by Rosa Menkman, the Lothringer 13 Halle will become a space that sheds light on the realms of im/possible images. Through workshops, talks, and other activities, international guests, local artists and researchers are invited to probe the experimental field of knowledge production with an emphasis on (digital) image infrastructures.
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im/possible images – the exhibition
An Overview with links to artists, artworks and materials
At the entrance of the Lothringer, a computer provides access to the digital version of the exhibition, titled: the BLOB of im/possibe images. The BLOB is home to a virtual collection of im/possible images that Rosa sourced during her Arts at CERN/Collide-Barcelona residency, by asking every scientist the same question:
Imagine you could obtain an 'impossible' image, of any object or phenomenon that you think is important, with no limits to spatial, temporal, energy, signal/noise or cost resolutions, what image would you create?
Rosa developed the BLOB to function as a virtual home for her collection of im/possible images during the pandemic, when all galleries were closed. But now, at the Lothringer 13, the im/possible images show has become a real space actualisation of the virtual BLOB.
In analogue photography, the latent image space exists when photosensitive material has been exposed, but has not gone through the process of development (yet). It is the space that has been touched by light, but that is not showing trace evidence (in the form of an image) yet. The im/possible images show uses the latent image term as an expanded concept and a hypothetical space, that involves every imaginable and unimaginable image that could ever be rendered. A main premise of im/possible images is that once a render parameter is chosen, this parameter acts as a metaphoric cut through the space of the latent image, dividing it up into images that remain possible, and images that have become impossible. So effectively, every render setting realizes particular images, while it compromises others.
In the Lothringer these parameters or axes, are materialized as architectural elements that quite literally cut through the space while introducing five categories of im/possiblity. Offered to the audience as a map that they can navigate:
all possible images
The axis of all possible images serves not really as an axis, but rather as an entrance into the hypothetical, latent image space of Lothringer 13 Halle, which contains all conceivable and inconceivable images.
Fabian Heller, Alle möglichen Bilder [True Color, Full HD], Druck auf PVC, 18x2 Meter, 2021.
low fidelity images
Sometimes the parameters by which the image was originally created are not supported by the image processing technology that is rendering it visible. This can happen when for instance the encoding system (the codec) has become unsupported or the amount of pixels of the image is higher than the resolution of the display or the computer can process.
When this happens, the technology or decoder can sometimes still try to ‘interpret’ the image data. As a result, the carrier that is used to translate the signal into an image, will influence and possibly deform the image that is finally on display.
This axis functions as an imaginary threshold that exists in the realms of render technologies, signalling that while some images are possible to render and others are not, there is also a liminal space, where the displayed image exists as an ambiguous interpretation.
images based on speculation, dis/belief or imagination
While some images may be presented as evidence, with ‘high acutance’ or as truthful, in reality the processes through which they may have been produced are inscribed with values, bias or even erroneous interpretations. Think for instance about the image of the shadow of a black hole, which was constituted from a trove of RAW scientific data, but then enhanced by artificial coloring. Or the basemap of planet Earth, that is used by Google maps, which exists devoid of clouds, while inhabited by inconsistent shadowing.
Susan Schuppli, Can the Sun lie? Video, 2014-2015
Sasha Engelmann & Sophie Dyer, Open Weather, Installation & Workshop, 2020-2021
Rosa Menkman, Whiteout, Video (15 Min.), 2020
Ingrid Burrington "forever noon on a cloudless day", Zitat
NASA-Basiskarte der Erde
chronologies of im ⁄ possibility
Technically, what once was possible to capture might become impossible, while some images that are impossible now might become possible to create in the future. This axis functions as a timeline on which some images move from possible to the impossible, and vice versa.
new complexities and humanly un⁄readable images
With the introduction of simulation technologies, which today also include AI and Machine Learning Algorithms, the latent image space has expanded. Images are no longer just relying on the object that is captured, the capturing device and its modes of display but also on intelligent processes that now complicate every step of image processing.
As a result, images are no longer just used as evidence, or to illustrate and explain, but also to predict and explore previously inaccessible scenarios. Moreover, image processing technologies have expanded to spaces of production that were previously unthinkable and unknowable.