With the six video animations that make up Flood Fill – Global Warning, the artists Jürg Lehni and Guy Meldem announce an absurd warning: “Animals & Plants steal our vital energy! Act before it’s too late!” The vital energy is visualized as an empty, geometric net, which a cat, for instance, pulls out of a woman’s brain.
With the help of a slowed-down Flood Fill algorithm that was already used early on to visualize computer graphics, Lehni builds up the pictures by having the layers of white, gray and black image planes virtually flow into each other, until the original hand-written message becomes visible. The development of the images is always accompanied by a hammering electronic sound. This underlines the uncomfortable urgency of the message, whose absurdity replaces current warnings of flood catastrophes or global warming referred to in the words of the title. Lehni uses an antiquated form of digital drawing as a sort of shading, in order to reenact hand-drawn contents. This points indirectly to the urgent problem of climate change by ironically aiming past it and instead highlighting a meaningless, nonsensical message.
(Text: Bettina Back)
Jürg Lehni works collaboratively across disciplines, dealing with the nuances of technology, tools and the human condition. His works often take the form of platforms and scenarios for production, such as the drawing machines Hektor, Rita and Viktor, as well as software-based structures and frameworks, including Paper.js, Scriptographer and Vectorama.org.
Lehni has shown work internationally in group and solo shows at the MoMA New York, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Centre Pompidou, Paris, Institute of Contemporary Art, Victoria and Albert Museum and Design Museum in London, Kunsthalle St. Gallen, and others. In 2014, his work Viktor was acquired by the SFMOMA for their collection.
Although he has had an independent practice in Switzerland since 2002, he has lived and worked in many places around the globe: in Los Angeles as the Arts Council Visiting Professor at the UCLA Department of Design Media Arts in 2012 – 2013, in London running his own studio between 2008 and 2011, in New York on a Swiss Design Awards residency in 2007, and in Tokyo on a research residency at Sony SET Studio in 2006.
The Lausanne graphic designer Guy Meldem also works with Sami Benhadj and Tarik Hayward under the label Körner Union.