Art in the Elevator: Till Nowak. Sightings
In his video piece Sightings, Till Nowak (1980 Bonn, DE – Los Angeles, CA, US) presents a world that, as the title suggests, is haunted by extraterrestrial phenomena. Composed of four clips, Sightings takes us to three different places in the U.S.: the Grand Canyon, in (or above) the streets of Los Angeles, and a desert. Unusual light reflections and mirages appear as Japanese tourists are being guided through the famous natural landmark. A policeman regulates traffic as radial, crystalline outgrowths behind him distort and reflect space. A precision-cut, box-shaped, translucent object hovers like a mirage above an isolated desert homestead, and, finally, a bridge and dam construction defies the laws of physics. Due to the brevity of the individual sequences, you inevitably wonder whether you really saw what you just thought you saw, or whether it was a flaw in the matrix. The deliberately amateurish handheld camerawork, producing shots that could have been taken by any one of us, acts as a stylistic device that heightens the documentary feel and gives a sense of witnessing actual events through the eyes of the artist.
Created during the presidency of Donald Trump, Sightings specifically refers to the fragmentation and disintegration of the American city and landscape and the fragility of society. Against the backdrop of fake news, doctored images, and the associated propaganda, the artist creates illusions that, as he puts it, “seem so real that they problematize the question of truth itself, provoking a discussion about questioning images.”
Till Nowak’s artistic practice is situated at the intersection of design, digital art, and film or animated film. In his work, which plays with illusion and reality in order to challenge the viewer’s perception, he explores aspects of the manipulation of truth, possible forms of urban space and landscape, as well as science fiction. Nowak was already reflecting on surreally deceptive eyewitness accounts and experiences as early as 2011, for instance in The Centrifuge Brain Project. The protagonists of his animated films break out of their usual and familiar environments to look beyond the boundaries of predefined norms and create a new, expanded reality. Live-action film and CGI sequences merge to create a new world that keeps many possibilities open, while ignoring classic film genres and formats.
About Art in the Elevator
With kind support from the Salzburg AG, the monitors of the MönchsbergAufzug are used as an extended exhibition space. Video and film works by both internationally renowned and emerging artists are presented for three months at a time. Thematically, the program is informed by current exhibitions, while at the same time offering a glimpse into the museum’s own media collection.