Die Beeld

nathaniel stern: review in die beeldExsperiment wat kyker se kyk na kuns belig
original article

An experiment that exposes the viewer’s view of art, by Wilhelm van Rensburg

Marcus Neustetter and Nathaniel Stern
Franchise Gallery

The announcement of the second experiment comes as a surprise – Marcus Neustetter and Nathaniel Stern’s first one apparently came and went without being noticed. Their second experiment, however, makes quite a marked impression, in the way that it utilizes simple technological processes to ask viewers to look anew at art and the artwork at hand.

In this experiment, they use very different methods: Neustetter uses a so-called digital frottage, and Stern a sort of compressionism to push the viewer to see.

Neustetter’s frottage technique involves the ‘rubbing off’, electronic scanning, or digital photocopying of the changing reflection of the sun through the windows onto the floor of the Franchise Gallery. His works are the same dimensions as the large, bay windows in the space.

Stern’s compressionism is the simultaneously digital and analogue compression of large spaces and objects, over time, into standard A4 size images.

The difference between the two artists can be likened to that between a digital and an analogue (or comparable form) watch. The first, one that only shows the minutes and seconds separated by a colon, and the latter, complete with two dials and twelve hour numbers.

What makes it interesting is the way that both these artists redefine digital art creatively. Digital art, the cross between art and technology, usually refers to computer based image creation, and includes categories like computer art, art on the internet, interactive digital art, virtual reality, and even cell phone art. Electronic sound, apart from electronic imagery, has also become a popular digital medium. The annual Prix Ars Electronica exhibition in cyber art in Austria, for example, usually gathers considerable attention.

Different from the norm of this type of art – the changing and moving image – Neustetter and Stern capture time itself, and not the movement as such. They confront the viewer with the old analogue watch and compare it with the more sporty digital watch.

In the rubbing off/compression of time, they create their own aesthetic abstract imagery; one that captures not only the movement of time, but also the products that are being created in the changing nature of time.