Curators: Maria Baibakova, Kate Sutton
Organizer: BAIBAKOV art projects
In1525, German painter Albrecht Dürer playfully suggested the power of one's point of view, with an engraving depicting an artist using a so-called “perspective machine” to draw a nude model. The screen-like device helped the artist to correctly render the space around him, but it also set up a mutual game of spectatorship and voyeurism between the artist and the model.
Our experience of space is governed by perspective, which defines our surroundings in relation to our bodies. Dürer’s “perspective machine” adhered to the Classical European painting tradition of linear perspective, constructing space as a series of rays that recede into a central vanishing point on the horizon. This arrangement fixes figures in relation both to the viewer and to the vanishing point, giving each viewer a unique visual experience of any given set of elements.
As part of a site specific project for BAIBAKOV art projects, Pfeiffer investigates the idea of an inverse perspective. In this scenario, the rays no longer stream inward towards one point, but instead explode outward into infinity, with no further convergence or intersection. Thus, if the purpose of perspective is to establish a subjective position, its inverse prevents any one viewpoint.
In his works, Pfeiffer proposes the camera as a stand-in for the vanishing point. Rather than use the camera to capture and create a subject, he isolates figures and manipulates margins to fracture the singular perspective, opening up the images to multiple interpretations.
Using found footage from television, film, and sports events, Paul Pfeiffer creates video, sculpture and photography that examine and interfere with the “reduction of things to images.” In particular, he explores the processes of image-making in the context of the entertainment industry, dissecting the role of mass media in the shaping of contemporary consciousness. Commentaries on celebrity culture, spectatorship and desire, his early works appropriated images of Marilyn Monroe, a figure of enormous fascination and media fixation. The artist digitally excavated all traces of the actress’ body, shifting his attention to the surroundings (which in turn reflect the impact of her presence.) In a later series of video works, Pfeiffer raided the archives of the NBA (National Basketball Association). Through subtle edits and erasure of contextual elements (such as scoreboards or baskets), the artist isolates individual players in a moment of athletic endeavor. In these images, he is most interested in recuperating the figures from the margins, editing out the central figure of the photographer’s focus.
For this site-specific project, Pfeiffer will continue to develop on his ideas regarding the construction of the gaze and the play of perspective, converting the space of the former Red October Chocolate Factory into a “Perspective Machine.”