Time for Vision, Time for Objects
Prof. Dr. Stefan Majetschak
Since the ancient world the ideal of the European picture is told in innumerable Mimesis legends. A picture is to be an ‘Imitation of Nature’, in such a realistic manner, that the observer could take the depicted object, when in doubt, as real. In ancient Greece, techniques to produce perfect figurative illusions were already virtuosic mastered by the painter Zeuxis. A famous Mimesis legend talks about that he painted grapes to realistic, that birds were pouncing on his picture, to pick on the grapes. The story about Zeuxis may be a legend, yet it forms an ideal that was for theEuropean art obliging for centuries.
With the art of the modern era it seemed that, the central perspective picture construction techniques finally came close to this ideal. Since these techniques seemed to be a possibility to picture an object so naturalistic, how we ‘really’ see it – as Johann Heinrich Lambert in his definition of perspective wrote 1774 – ‘how it is falling into the eyes from a certain distance’. Yet, is the alleged ‘realism’ of the modern central perspective picture not a legend itself? Does it really show the things the way we see them?
In the meantime we know that this is the case. The central perspective picture shows the world, how it is perceived by a single, camera-like fixed eye, in an isolated moment. It abstracts the dimension of time of seeing in the same way as the essential temporality of the objects. Everything we see exists in the moment, and changes his appearance,from moment to moment, depending on various factors, like point of view,surrounding, and movement, fast or impalpable slow. We do know about a timeless, visual identity of things. More so, our seeing in itself is an act of time, a sometimes fleeting, sometimes intense, but always a temporary scanning of the visual appearance of things, which is the result of the pertinent ankle of fading or melting products of successive eye movements. Like the American philosopher Nelson Goodman wrote: ‘A fixed eye in an isolated moment is blind’.As much as we want to continue to believe in the legend of realism in central perspective pictures, as they abstract the time of objects and the time of seeing, they do not imitate the reality the way we actually see it.
Dieter Haist ́s new pictures make the time of objects and the time of seeing, abandoned by modern pictures, explicitly to his theme. In series of experimental attempts,they systematically explore the scope of clashing – time of objects – time of seeing, constituting our vision of reality. Haist is making them visible during the origination process of his pictures. He lets them confront, and subsequently, as a result of this confrontation, lets them melt to an unusual design of seeing of time.
Dieter Haist uses a flatbed scanner for his objects, which enables him to simulate the process of time of seeing, so the process of seeing and fixing objects in the picture is expanded into time.
In a predetermined process, which might take minutes, the object is adamantly scanned, in objective continuity, without hectic or excursiveness, a result of our successive movement of eyes when looking at an object. The object is displayed in a neutral, sometimes even ‘clinical’ light, typical for his pictures. Haist lets the time the scanner needs to scan the objects, meet the time of the object. He does not leave the displayed objects in a static place, but moves them, sometimes constantly in a continuous, one-way direction, or sometimes, in an abrupt, non continuous rhythm. So the time the scanner looks at the objects, is sometimes parallel to the time Haist moves the object and sometimes opposite. But always, the two time movements that are melting to a momentary view. As can be seen by the titles of his pictures, it is the convergence or divergency of two time processes that he is really interested in. The object as such is immaterial. Haist can use things like pearls, flutes, soccer balls, or carrots (!). In some cases he uses clocks that not only point symbolically to the theme of his work, but with a time measuring movement of the hands, another process dimension of time into the picture is achieved. Whatever the displayed object may be, it is always important what a sometimes harmonic, sometimes painful clashing of time movement as autonomic picture of time originates.