Arts Desk

Vitamin A: Georg Kuettinger’s “Fuenfseenland”

In which one of our art critics highlights a favorite work on view in a local gallery. Click to enlarge!

Like so many photographers today, Georg Kuettinger is concerned not just with portraying reality but with filtering it. This is not a new approach, of course—in photography, it goes back at least to the pictorialists of the late 1800s and early 1900s—but advances in computer software have opened up new frontiers. Rather than having to literally cut and paste photographs David Hockney-style, photographers can now easily (if painstakingly) stitch together any number of images dititally. In Washington recently, we’ve seen works using this technique by D.C.-based photographer Franz Jantzen and, using Google Earth imagery rather than his own images, Christoph Engel.

Kuettinger’s approach in works such as “Fuenfseenland, Germany, 2006” is to take 36 images of a specific landscape from different points of view, scattered over a given area. “Afterwards,” he explains, “they are recombined and compressed into one picture frame in order to create a densified image of the landscape—a landscape portrait.”

In “Fuenfseenland,” we see a wide-screen, white-out scene punctuated by a spotty trail of brambly trees. As the blank ground meets blank sky in a sinuous, irregular curve, the vegetation morphs into patches of hair, and seen at nearly five feet wide, the landscape invokes a reclining female form. Does it make it any less impressive that the image is manufactured? Perhaps. But in art, not everyone needs to be a straight-ahead documentarian; manufacturing reality is its own kind of artistry.

Georg Kuettinger's work is on view noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday to March 17 at Project 4, 1353 U St. NW. Read my review here.

 

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