‘What are you trying to achieve with this new project?‘, Anthony asked.
‘In the beginning I wasn’t really sure, what I was doing, it was mainly an impulse that was driving me. I felt a very strong urge to force myself out of a strange Cul de Sac. I guess my main motivation was just to do something, whatever that was. To create Something out of Nothing’
‘So there is no meaning to what you are doing‘
‘You could argue that. On the other hand, the meaning is created by a process that happens over time. But that’s a separate and perhaps more general issue regarding my work. The point of this particular project is to question – for myself – the process that I use in my work. This process originally helped me to stay clear from the seduction of formality and superficial aesthetics, but gradually turned itself on its head. By trying too hard to remain true to my own principles, I ended up with a working process that had become a force of limitation and, ultimately, formality.’
‘Are you starting a whole new way of working with this project?‘
‘Not at all. I am still using the same process of working, but my aim is to disregard its key principles….’
‘Isn’t it paradoxical to say that?‘
‘Yes, I am aware of that, but it is something that happens all the time, for instance when artistic concepts, ideas or innovations are appropriated by the commercial world. The meaning is then replaced by a product, and the process becomes a pure technique or style that helps to sell this product. It becomes an imitation of itself.’
‘Is this the moment then where you finally go commercial? ‘
(Laughing) ‘Perhaps, but I am not interested in exploring the oxymoron you hint at. Not in this project. I am not trying to make a political statement, let alone blame anyone, except perhaps myself. I think the fear of selling out often stands in the way of true creativity, because it can make the work too conceptual or cerebral. In my case, what I fear most is the idea of degeneration.’
‘Degeneration into the meaningless?‘
‘That too, but I am mainly talking about degeneration as a technique, such as the material or analogue degeneration of images. When I was studying some years ago, a friend of mine, Terje Fjellstad, made a piece called Talking about my Degeneration. I loved the piece, but even more the title, because it really summed up our generation of artists then, who were all somehow obsessed with the surface of images. But today, this statement could be true for society as a whole. With everything being digital, we yearn for a sense of patina, and degeneration as a technique lends this patina, or at least an illusion of it. And yes, I am worried about degenerating into that sphere.’
‘That’s not for me to say. The point is that I shouldn’t worry about it, because, really, my work is not about degeneration….’
‘Another paradoxical statement. It seems that you are trying to justify what you perceive as a weakness in your work, by saying: it does not exist.‘
‘You certainly have a point there, again. But as I said before, this is an experiment to analyse and question my own work. And the fact is, that the starting point of my surface gateway project series had nothing to do with degeneration as a technique. It was about the concept of time, in particular the idea of connecting specific moments. The time that passes between those moments is integral to the work, and that can sometimes be years. When I worked on Imparando da Firenze during a residency in Florence in 2014, I realised how important this fact is to me. In terms of the working process, I see my work in the tradition of people such as Botticelli or Raffael, who would sometimes spend years on a painting. The problem is that the passing of time, represented in images of the key moments, creates degeneration naturally. In order to focus attention away from this ‘side effect’, or rather to clarify what’s happening, I have been trying to find ways to communicate the passing of time through the work itself.’
‘How is that a problem?‘
‘In theory, there is no problem. In reality, it is futile to attempt the reproduction of time in an artwork, especially if it is a static one. Even in film, or music, true reproduction of time can never be longer than the length of the piece itself. Anything else by default is an illusion…’
‘A pretty obvious statement…‘
‘…yet an incredibly complex issue at the same time. In a world of digital media and image manipulation, it is almost impossible to distinguish between real and artificial degeneration [of images], which affects our perception of time, memory and history. For my work this means the layers of moments, represented in layers of images, could have just as easily been produced digitally, including a false sense of image degeneration. That’s why I often use a combination of video and printed images in my final exhibition presentation’
‘And that is a problem for you?‘
‘Not as such, I love video, and combining it with printed images, but I came to a point where it felt the two media are there only to justify each other. To say ‘Hey look, this is actually real!’. Also, the format of video, and in particular the way I’m using stop frame animation, means that all the images I use have to fit into the 16:9 format, which is itself is limiting. All in all, this has stopped me from freely experimenting with the second subject that I am trying to explore with this project series. And that is to approach the city, and my printed images in this city space, as a canvas of fragmented spaces. Ultimately, my aim is to sculpt time and space through a visceral process into a visual expression that has similar qualities to painting. That’s why in this current project, I am trying not to worry about the concept of degeneration. I hope this will help me to bring back a more visceral and free approach to my surface gateway project series.
Everyone want’s a blog, right?…well, me too, but this is my first post and it’s June 2013, so I am not exactly setting a trend here. Don’t get me wrong, I am generally quite net and media savvy and have actually set up and written for a few blogs, but they were not mine. So, this post, published at 09:29:56 (BST) on the 21st of June 2013, is my first own blog post ever. And therefore I feel compelled to talk a bit about myself, what I do and what I intend to blog about. And this, I hope, will help you, my audience, to make a judgment on whether this blog is worth a regular read.
Let me begin:
Who Am I?
I am one of those ‘creative individuals’ who’s been trying to find a place somewhere in the spectrum between true artistic expression and commercial succes. In other words, over the last 10 years or so I have been floating between living the life of a penniless artist and selling my soul to the devil.
Sounds familiar? I know, there is a whole army of us out there, a generation of people who grew up with the desire to express our individuality and fulfil our true creative potential, only to end up pushing pixels for Beelzebub.
Gadzooks, I am being extreme! Of course it’s not all that bad, but I do feel sometimes as if I have fallen prey to a clever ploy to establish a new type of slavery. We work for free, without contracts, benefits or any sense of security, all in the name of expressing our creativity.
I wonder how many of us will be able to afford a dentist when our teeth start falling out.
What Do I Do?
Now let me elaborate how the above abstract analysis translates into the particular reality of my existence:
I make a living as Head of Communications for an international architecture firm, which builds properties, mostly large shopping centre complexes all around the globe. It can be pretty exciting work, I get around quite a bit, helping to find new clients and projects, winning awards and expanding the business in general. What’s on the other end of our operations is too far removed from my job for me to really make a judgement on whether the results of my work are for the good or detriment of humankind.
In stark contrast to that are my artistic ambitions and the life and social environment that come with it. I live in a warehouse community in North London, sharing my existence with artists, left-wing liberals and hippies. My artistic practice revolves around issues of history, cities, places of memory and the reflection of those through images as objects. The two obsessions of my life are the concept of time and America. My preferred media are photography, film/video and writing, usually brought together in some kind of narrative.
Add to all of that an interest in politics and economics, in particular the state of Europe at this moment in time, and you might understand next time you see me walking around Finsbury Park with a can of cider in my hand.
Is This Worth A Read?
I’ll leave that to you to decide, but if my brief introduction made you just a little curious, then do come back, because I intend to create regular posts that draw inspiration from my somewhat contradictory life and the experiences around it. And of course I’ll present my art to you, keep you posted on exhibitions, events and happenings, and last but not least, I’ll let you in on on a little secret of mine.
© by Rupert Jaeger, all rights reserved
One evening, a few years ago, four individuals were drinking in a pub. The four were part of a larger group of people, who were all connected in some form, which was partly due to the fact that, by some random coincidence, they all shared their existence at the same time in the same place, and partly due to their sharing of certain, similar kinds of interests, thinking and ambitions. These overlaps of space, time and character traits resulted in a number and variety of shared, or common, activities. In the weeks preceding the evening, which had been a period of particular intensity, an unusually large amount of these activities had occurred.
A few years ago, one evening, four people were drinking. They were sitting around a table, in a pub. The four decided to form a band. Therefore, firstly, and most crucially, they had to come up with a name.
preface to the first edition iii
The Book – 150 pages, © by Rupert Jaeger 2007
‘The Book’ tells the whole story of Rentner, from its birth to its death, its strange disguises and hybrids, from the band that never happened, over an image retrieval project that spanned across six european cities, a company run by hard-nosed business men, and ultimately to its own total corporate and conceptual deconstruction…
The story starts at an undisclosed location in space and time, which serves as a framework from where the present is always the past, and then jumps to a very specific location in Barcelona, Spain, at precisely 15:17:28 hrs local time on the 22 of September 2001. From here onwards unfolds an experimental narrative in image and word that is at once a fictional account of a group of time travellers from the future , and at the same time a documentation of the real live story of a group of artists who called themselves Rentner.
The group was active from September 2001 until September 2004 with projects and exhibitions in Barcelona, Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Berlin, Frankfurt and London. The Book, which is largely made up of photos, sketches, writings and other documents from that time, was first published in 2007.
The preface (to the first edition) sets the framework of the story by presenting a collage of documents that piece together a fragmented concept of the world experienced by the characters of the narrative. The above document is of particular focus, with its text forming the main context of the overall narrative. A full transcript of this document can be found here.
A photograph of Barcelona, Spain, opening the chapter ‘Old Europe‘, with the precise location marked where a particular moment occurred, which was not only to be the defining moment of the book, but the initiating moment of a process that is still ongoing today.
Double page recalling what happened during the Rentner agents’ stay in Brussels, Belgium, in mid October 2001. It was here that they started to not only question their mission, but to deviate from their original plans, and ultimately disrespect the timetable and route across Old Europe.
Snapshots of a number of ‘durational moments‘ that were retrieved in Amsterdam, Netherlands, late October 2001.
After Amsterdam, the Rentner agents left a number of traces in Berlin and Frankfurt, Germany, in November 2001. After that, there was no trace of them…
…for just over one year, when a company by the name of ‘Rentner Collective Ltd’ was incorporated at Companies House, in London, United Kingdom, on the 27th of September 2002. Around the same time, a number of public interventions, events and exhibitions started to occur across London, organised by a group called ‘Rentner Collective‘. Whether the two entities consisted of the same people, and who those people actually were could never be verified.
These photos were taken around Oxford Street, central London, on the 12th of December 2002. No other details are available about the nature of this intervention, the person on the photos or who the photos were taken by.
The same location, a few months later, on the 15th of April 2003. This time, the cardboard has been replaced by a proper sign with a logo, evidently of Rentner Collective, which is accompanied by a web address. The domain, www.rentnercollective.com, is still available online, but has not been updated since September 2004.
The same sign, as one of the centre pieces of ‘This is Rentnercollective‘, an art exhibition that took place at the ‘Islington Arts Factory‘ from Friday the 13th of February to 5th of March 2004. The exhibition was a group show with 7 artists showing work, which were connected via red ropes, continuing a theme running through the work of Rentner Collective at that time, which was the colour red (C:0 M:99 Y:100 K:0), and in particular in the form of a red line.
Double page spread of ‘The Book‘, showing visitors seen from above at ‘This is Rentnercollective?‘, across the red ropes connecting the work.
‘The Red Line‘ was to find its most extreme prominence as a theme of Rentner Collective in the art exhibition ‘The Vault‘ that took place at ‘The Foundry‘, in London’s Old Street from the 24th of June to the 11th of July 2004. One of the centre pieces of this exhibition was a straight red line, that was painted along all four walls of one of the basement rooms, the vault of this former bank building. The Red Line was painted around every corner or other protrusion of the wall, creating unusual perspectives and distortions of the line.
Double page spread of The Book showing the take down of ‘The Red Line’, which had been painted directly onto the wall, and therefore was only existent for the duration of the exhibition. In order to keep physical objects that can represent the exhibition in retrospect, various techniques were employed to preserve pieces of the wall or of ‘The Red Line’ itself.
From the 11th to the 22nd of September 2004 ‘Credit History‘ took place in the ‘Pavilion‘, a gallery next to the river in the city of Frankfurt, Germany. Before the exhibition, a large number of business cards of some of the members of Rentner Collective were cut into random pieces, from which a selection of 6 pieces was made, which were to feature in the exhibition in Frankfurt.
The six selected pieces were then enlarged and painted on the main wall of the gallery space, which created an abstract combination of seemingly random shapes of red colour on the wall.
‘Credit History‘ was the last time that Rentner Collective ever presented an exhibition and since then there has been no trace of any of its members.
‘450 St Ann’s Road‘ in the North London Borough of Haringey, where some of the members of Rentner Collective purportedly lived from 2002 until they disappeared in September 2004. The property was bought in early 2005 by an unknown property developer, who demolished the building a few months after it was acquired. No development plans have since been presented to the local authorities and the plot remains derelict.
© by Rupert Jaeger 2007
The first edition of ‘The Book’ was a limited edition of 200 copies, which has since its publication sold out. Edition 2, a slightly updated version, is currently being produced. If you would like a copy or an electronic version, please contact:
+44 (0)751 233 1561
In the future there has been established a giant global network system, greater in power than any data system ever built before; quite beyond the comprehension of a contemporary computer programmer. This network is known as TRAVIL or Transglobal-Rentner Audio & Visual Information Library. The library is vast. Huge areas of Old Australia have been converted into giant stainless steel vaults. In these vaults you will find sounds and images of every possible source – snapshots from the oldest family albums, the screeches and whines of extinct creatures and most importantly the proof of time itself, for the library is not for reference, in this new society the future is dictated by how the immediate past came into being. As well as being a machine of awesome technological power it also symbolizes the power of the corporation responsible for its manifestation: Rentner.
Although a well-oiled organisation, deadly efficient, uncompromising, Rentner has found that TRAVIL has flaws. There are gaps in the time data, this is unacceptable for a system whose function is to store every moment of the past. Furthermore, it has become apparent that merely having the images and sounds from the past does not guarantee a coherent view of the past – for every action has a reaction, every cause has an effect, every moment in time is a product of chance, an accident. As the past is established, it follows that if the correct methodology is used it would be possible to ascertain how an event came to happen. How it was conceived from a causal event and how eventually it becomes a causal event itself.
As well as being the superpower of time and information management, Rentner also governs a science administration. In the past companies such as NASA concentrated their efforts and resources on the dream of deep space travel and exploration, somehow continuing on with the stupid notion that humanity would benefit from, for example, a select crew of humans collecting dust from a moon of Jupiter. From an early stage in its development as a global power Rentner could see the potential in concentrating such resources on the exploration of time, knowing space was irrelevant to a rational debate on the future of society, in particular the control of society. Hence, when the Rentner Science Administration managed to control government funding, they pushed the space race into the shadows and perfected the Art of chronovelocital travel.
The sounds and images contained in TRAVIL are all primary sources, that is to say, every recording is an original, taken at the exact time of the event. These recordings are made by chronovelocital teams. They are sent back to the time frame containing the events selected for capture, the Rentner bosses refer to this process as the Pixel Harvest, as if they were reaping the crops sown by the hands of chance.
The selection process for chronovelocital teams, individually known as Chrononauts, is relatively simple. The applicants must demonstrate a sound knowledge of old world geography and culture, they must be competent in the use of old world imaging tools: film cameras, digital cameras, etc. and must declare their undying loyalty to Rentner. Upon selection, every chrononauts must swear the seven rulings of Rentner before a priest of the Holy Order of the Rentner. This ceremony closes with an orgy with the Rentner nuns and free cider.
Our story begins with a group of three graduates from the Rentner Filmproduktion Institute. They apply for a chronovelocital mission. They become Rentner #36-24-34.
The image retrieval work required of the team has been given Boss-Eye-Only status, that is to say the team is in complete ignorance of which time frame and geographical region chosen for their mission. The reason for this is that the time frame they are to be sent back is early 21st century western Europe. Hundreds of teams are sent back to this time frame every month and the information given is in so much detail, considering every cause and effect situation that the bosses have decided it would be easier to send back teams at random without properly planning the missions, for they have come to the conclusion that it is virtually impossible to give one moment in time precedence over another. Before being sent back the team is handed a brief, which contains their orders. It states that in the field they will be given signals left from other agents on other missions, these will mostly consist of time deadlines and geographical position. Under no circumstances are these deadlines to be missed and under no circumstances is the nature of their work or the fact that they come from the future ever to be disclosed: this could jeopardize the future of Rentner as a global mega power and could result in the chrononauts being stuck in the past.
During selection, each candidate was given the aforementioned testing. Two aspects of temperament, which were not considered by the selection committee to be important was that of the artist and that of the sex maniac. The team goes through the complex, dangerous process of chronovelocital flight and finds itself in a place with absolutely no idea where they are or what they should be doing. It was mentioned in their brief that their mission might coincide with past missions and that the tools they are to use may be retrieved hence. Their first objective is to find the materials they needed to continue their mission.
The above text is taken from a document, which was found in an abandoned house in a small English town along the river Medway on 22 December 2001.
Below is a scan of the first page of the document. More information about this can be found in this article.
© by Rupert Jaeger, all rights reserved