The screensaver program Über Sehen (1993) by the artist duo Studer / van den Berg was created as a contribution to the exhibition “Kunst am Arbeitsplatz” (art in the workplace) for Kunstkredit Basel. Drawing on their personal experience with public office spaces negligently crammed full of stuff, they chose eight everyday office utensils to stand as the protagonists of a 3D animated screensaver programmed especially for this purpose.Scissors, stamps and pencils, coffee mugs and watering cans serve to create a new, digital presence in the office.
These objects were reconstructed in a 3D program and then broken down into polygons as bitmap graphics, resulting in a typical 1990s’ 3D aesthetic – that Studer / van den Berg’s work contributed to shaping. This form of rendering and the manner in which they have been liberated from their usual contexts ironically exaggerated the appearance of these invariably “overlooked” (German: übersehen) utensils.
With time, these inconspicuous commonplace accessories take on lives of their own, dissolving surreally disappearing out of sight beyond the boundaries of the screen. In the course of their digital metamorphosis, which takes place over and over again, individual stages of disintegration are overlaid with text fragments from media-critical texts that dominated discourses in the 1990s, by authors such as Jean Baudrillard, Walter Benjamin, Friedrich Kittler, Paul Virilio and Maurice Merleau-Ponty.
Word–image combinations are constantly recreated at random in a computer-generated process. As philosophical concepts clash with elaborated and depleted everyday objects, the irony of their combinations is heightened, while simultaneously drawing the pausing viewer’s positive attention to their increasingly most essential tool, the computer.
(Text: Bettina Back)
Monica Studer (*1960), Zurich, Switzerland, and Christoph van den Berg (*1962), Basel, Switzerland, live and work in Basel.
Collaborating as artists since 1991 and on Internet projects since 1996. 2003 visiting professorship for new media at the Kunsthochschule in Kassel.