Das Kunstwerk Der Zukunft
opening: 11 march, 17.00 - 19.30 HRs
Upstream Gallery is proud to present Das Kunstwerk der Zukunft, the fifth solo exhibition by Dennis Rudolph with the gallery. Within his most recent work, the Berlin based multimedia artist combines a focus on painting with virtual and augmented reality (VR, AR). The resulting artworks - and exhibition - become a holistic experience, a Gesamtkunstwerk, combining painting with oil and in VR, sculptures as well as music and dance.
Das Kunstwerk der Zukunft
As Man stands to Nature, so stands Art to Man.
- Richard Wagner, 1849
The title of this show finds its inspiration in the thesis of Richard Wagner’s essay - Das Kunstwerk der Zukunft (1849): just as Mankind develops as the result of Nature’s conditions for the existence of Mankind - so too does Art develop as the result of the conditions mankind has set out for its manifestation.
Rudolph reflects on the current technological conditions set out by mankind for the existence and experience of art. As such, painting in VR - on the edge of presence and absence - is one of the core dichotomies of Rudolph’s work. The artist began using this medium as an exploration of the threshold between different realities, asking himself how one can create something that can be both present as well as absent at the same time. Painting in VR - and using AR to access these paintings - allows just that.
Once Rudolph paints something in VR with digital brush strokes, he looks for ways in which to give these digital brush strokes their materiality back, bringing them back to ‘our side’ of reality. The artist does this by painting details of the virtual works in a thick impasto technique with oil color, the physical results of which are at first glance abstract, but come alive as the AR-app recognizes the painting and the virtual painting appears at exactly the position where the artist painted the detail from. Only then do we, as the viewer, realize that the physical painting is part of a bigger digital whole.
The monumental painting Götterfries I (ATLAS Shrugged) forms the centerpiece of the exhibition. Using Rudolph’s AR-app, four figures from Greek mythology: Hermes, Europa, Atlas and Gaia (Rudolph’s Artificial Gods), appear out of the thick brush strokes on the screens of the visitor's phones. To the music composed by Dietrich Brüggemann the Gods perform a choreography. In his artwork Rudolph is appealing to all our senses and creating an immersive multi-sensory experience, combining oil paintings, augmented reality and music resulting in a Wagner-meets-Hollywood Gesamtkunstwerk.
Just like in Wagner’s theory of the Gesamtkunstwerk, the visitor of the exhibition becomes an integral part of the choreography by using their smartphone. What differs here, however, is the fact that we have become part of Rudolph’s Gesamtkunstwerk long before we enter the exhibition space. The incorporation of technology into our everyday lives has, according to the artist, already resulted in us becoming versions of our own cyborgs – we use our phones for multiple hours a day, incorporating their functions into every tasks, our computers have become integral parts of how we do our work, and our reliance on digital technologies has become more embedded in how we operate than what we would like to admit to ourselves. Within Rudolph’s work, the incorporation of an AR app, therefore, is simply an incorporation of what we - quite literally - hold on to already.
Important to note here is the artist’s optimism in relation to these developments. Rudolph sees our affirmation of new technologies as a means of managing to control them. He too accepts the presence and role of new technologies in our lives by incorporating VR and AR into his practice. Rather than shying away from their presence, he takes control over the way in which they should interact and affect his art practice. Refreshingly, painting in virtual reality has changed the way Rudolph paints ‘in real life’, creating an exchange between reality and virtual reality.
Dennis Rudolph (1979) studied at the Universität der Künste, Berlin, the Repin-Academy in St. Petersburg and the Language and Culture Institute in Beijing. His artistic practice derives its primal momentum from a melancholic reworking of the heritage of western culture, making classical historical genres available for a contemporary artistic approach. Rudolph’s recent exhibitions have taken place at the Oude Kerk in Amsterdam; Stedelijk Museum Schiedam; Karachi Biennale, Pakistan; the Museum der Arbeit Hamburg; DTLA Film Festival, Los Angeles; KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin; Moscow International Biennale for Young Art; CAC Bretigny, France; Bayerische Staatsoper, Germany; Kunstverein Arnsberg; Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin, among many others. Since 2014, Rudolph runs the exhibition space, residency and studio State of the Art in Berlin. Rudolph’s work is part of several public and private collections, including those of Lisser Art Museum, the Sanders Collection as well as the Brown Collection.