Reworking the Archive: Artistic Research, Experimentation, Imagination
On Gudrun Barenbrock by Bettina Pelz
Since the early 2000s, Gudrun Barenbrock dedicates her artistic research and practice to video art installations based on still and moving imageries. While daily perception is set up for speed identification and easy navigation, her artistic approach leads to details that are overlooked. Her material are still and moving photographs that she collected while traveling around the world. “Working with archived material means: I don’t have to reinvent the world; everything is already there. And it’s much better and more surprising than I could ever come up with.”
“Often, I just take my camera with me, without any particular in mind, it is small, it fits in my jackets’ pockets. I find a certain casualness important, sometimes I come across something that interests me, sometimes not …”. Asked what she collects she answered: “(Almost) everything. Everyday things, banal things, special things – it doesn’t matter. I can never have enough. Of course, this also has a manic component …”. She follows an intuitive approach, tracks what triggers her attention, and experiments with the cooperation of the artistic eye and the technical camera. “When I film the light bands in a tunnel caused by a moving car or the rails while sitting on a train, there’s an imprecision that I see as an advantage. It’s these deviations that can’t be created in the computer.” She tracks aesthetic appearances caused by light and shadow, of materials and by traces of action, by technical function, and dysfunction.”
Thematic subsets encompass natural, and build environments, technical settings, and industrial surroundings, conduct of traffic, and transportation, ecological habitats, and weather-bound situations, chemistry, and biology. When discussing with her, she reflected that among the wide-spread interest that photos and videos featuring ‘people’ are hardly among them, may-be because I’m not particularly interested in storytelling.” Her focus is on structures, patterns, and rhythms, movement, and interaction. Her preference for working in black and white underlines these parameters foregoing without color as signaling medium.
In her studio, she examines the found footage looking for arrangements and patterns, movements, and systems. Revisiting, reviewing, and rethinking are key features of her way of working. She selects lines, surfaces, and forms to highlight, repeats, animates, loops them. Sequences are built, dialogues emerge, compositions are assembled. She decolors and overcolors, scales light and transparency values as much as contrasts. She looks at the emerging forms and gradients, multiplies: “Half of the rent is hand work, trying out, testing … and if something doesn’t work, maybe something else will turn up, and that’s how ideas are born”. As projection spaces, she selects spatial situations that can echo her artistic findings in their architectural appearances, in their building materials or their traces of use. The includes the analog properties in the digital compositions.