by Jeremy Welsh
From the Shadowgrounds catalogue made during Gilje´s residency at Künstlerhaus Bethanien.
“The impact of new media is assuming an ecological force engaged in a dynamic dance between natural and synthetic systems. In the light of new media technological transformations, dominant aesthetic theories are being redefined.”
Timothy Allen Jackson, ”Towards a New Media Aesthetic” in: Reading Digital Culture, ed. David Trend. Blackwell Publishers, Oxford, 2000.
A dynamic dance between natural and synthetic systems could easily be the programme description for one of Hans Christian Gilje’s many collaborations with dancers, actors and performance artists. Gilje represents a new genre of artist, one who has developed his whole aesthetic practice through the application of new media, and for whom the processes of technological production/re-production are as “natural” a creative act as the smearing of paint across the surface of a canvas. To what extent one can claim that dominant aesthetic theories are being redefined by new media’s technological transformations is not easy to determine, since many other factors, among them globalisation and the West’s (grudging) acceptance of a multicultural society, are brought to bear upon the ongoing aesthetic discourse. It is safe to say, however, that H. C. Gilje and the current generation of media artists are carrying further an aesthetic redefinition that was initiated by certain avant-gardes of the previous century, in particular those who sought to establish new artistic practices based on the deployment of technological media, often working in cross-disciplinary collaboration within evolving structures.
Timothy Allen Jackson goes on to describe the New Media Aesthetic thus:
“... projective rather than reflective, complex and dynamic rather than simple and static, often focussing on process more than product, and resembling a verb more than a noun.” In the latter part of this description, Allen Jackson is citing the sixties’ counter culture hero R. Buckminster Fuller – specifically the title of his book I seem to be a verb. The core of his description can also be traced back to much of the art practice of the same era, most notably in conceptualism and the activities of the Fluxus group. If it can be said that new media technologies and their concomitant processes of virtualisation represent an advanced stage of the conceptualisation of art, or at least its apparent dematerialisation, then the methods and eccentricities of Fluxus and its various creative practices from mail art to confrontational performance can be viewed as prototypes for much of the network-based art being developed today.
The characteristics of Hans Christian Gilje’s recent works are; a dynamic tension between inner (psychological) and outer (physical) worlds; temporal-spatial structures based upon cyclical evolution, rephrasing, paraphrasing, constant re-modification; a confrontation between Gilje’s personal aesthetic vision and creative processes and those of his co-creators in multimedia collaborative works. The skills he brings to bear are complex and manifold, and represent in toto a profile of a new kind of artist - the artist suggested by Timothy Allen Jones’ description of New Media Aesthetics. Gilje is a more than competent videographer; his sense of visual composition is exemplary and is informed by a knowledge of the history of visual art and of cinema. His images and editing structures are often reminiscent of earlier phases of experimental film, whilst his methods and his use of digital tools place his work firmly in the same arena as contemporary electronic musicians and deejays. The practice of “videojamming” which is now widespread within club culture, contemporary rock music and certain sections of the art world, often falls foul of its own provisional character, lack of formal structure and tendency to treat all images as innately equal, resulting in a flatness, a lack of dynamic and a naive refusal of the image’s inevitable linguistic content. Gilje manages to avoid these pitfalls through a combination of restraint - choosing a limited palette of visual material - and a highly evolved sense of montage that reframes cinematic practice within the vocabulary of a new media aesthetic. Certain images or categories of image recur throughout Gilje’s work, whether the individual manifestation is a single-screen video projection, an installation, a live video performance, or electronic scenography for a dance/theatre piece. Urban architecture, fragments of machinery or of technological systems, anonymous people in crowded spaces, fragments of the human body and abstracted elements of the natural landscape – all of these are constantly recombined within an evolving, dynamic process. Not an artwork in the sense of a fixed and finished object, but work-as-art, art-work as endless process.
In marked contrast to the spectacular multimedia stage shows of the eighties and nineties, where electronic trickery and bombastic technological display often overshadowed the live performer and rendered the performance somewhat sterile, H. C. Gilje’s media-based scenography is an integrated and essential element of a whole, often underplayed, subtle and sensitive, creating an extra spatial dimension within which the actions of the performers are often precisely framed. Tending towards abstraction, but not falling into mere ambience, his scenography for KreutzerKompani’s recent production Blendverk achieved a rare and delicate balance between concrete and illusory spaces, inviting a playfulness on the part of the dancers, and leaving spaces into which the individual perceptions of the audience could project, allowing for a plurality of readings. Although everything the audience saw was based upon a skilful manipulation of light, projection, physical motion and three dimensional space, and was absolutely real and concrete, the poetic spatial manipulations of the piece challenged us to see the performance as a passage, a threshold between the concrete world we inhabit and the virtual worlds we dream of inhabiting. Although the particular aesthetic may be New Media, the goal is as old as theatre itself: to transport its audience elsewhere.
by Hanan Benammar
Pings: Matter, Environment and Technology in the work of HC Gilje
by Mitchell Whitelaw
Conversations over time
by Anne Szefer Karlsen
Siding with the light
by Joost Rekveld
Conversations with Spaces
by HC Gilje
TIME, SPACE, CHANGE, SPEED, MOTION - Interview with HC Gilje
by Nicky Assmann
Right Here, Right now - HC Gilje´s Networks of Specificity
by Mitchell Whitelaw
Within the space of an instant
by HC Gilje
HC Gilje – Cityscapes and the
by Per Kvist
preface to Shadowgrounds catalog
by Jeremy Welsh
interview with HC Gilje
by Andreas Broeckmann
Work on the Myth
by Gerrit Gohlke
by HC Gilje