“Downstream -- Travels, Projections” Exhibition 12.- 29. February 2016

von Daniela Hölzl

Photography, through its function and structure, opens up direct access to the imaginary. As a medium it has shaped the impression of the remote. It freezes and records the “elsewhere”. It represents the projection both technically and psychologically.
Martin Eiter, in 2015 Artist in Residence at the Field Institute of Museumsinsel Hombroich, observes the distinct scantiness of highland valleys of Tyrol in analogue technique to find them again in the deserts of North Africa. He follows the courses of streams and rivers down to the Danube. He photographs the Australian Outback on digital and alienates it. The imagination is left to cast extrinsic views, to visualise, to leave to chance the elaboration of absent colours.
The photograms – cactuses, birches – are projections in word and sense and direct impressions of light cast on those objects.

The camera, the operative setting of photography represents the field of seeing and therefore the principle
of the imaginary, the projection. In this field of projection Martin Eiter develops his quest between painting and photography. This applies to perception, its constitutive conditions, the relation between subject and object.
Being a classically-trained photographer Martin Eiter uses the structure of the medium to realise the
subjective processes and thereby retracting as far as possible from the intentional action of taking pictures. Particularly in analogue photography, preferable in medium format 6 x7 cm, black and white,
the constellation of camera and operator (Vilem Flusser) allows a function to capture time, movement and light, the actual “photo-graphic” element. Martin Eiter does not orientate himself on the “right moment” for the motif. Especially the landscapes photographed in his homeland Tirol are more nature studies, capturing this body of lightwaves by long exposure times. Water and wind, storm and snowfall,
the materiality of the landscape, the motion of walking and the unsteadiness of the hand holding a heavy
camera…..all these processes reveal the plasticity of the continuum.
Painting functions here as the mirror of photography by conveying patches, melting traces and a finely
differentiated chromaticity out of the abstraction of the natural phenomena. Conversely the influence of painting can be found in the awareness of intentional painting, its use in dark-room processes and as well in the preference for photograms which have been forming individual working complex for years.
By using the element of light as a direct image-producing source the artist assumes the observing position of the researcher. This again correlates with the lately much discussed aspect of photography as an index sign indicating the physical presence of its contributing object. Although the” trace of reality as a sign”
has become obsolete in the digital revolution of pictorial media, it reoccurs in Martin Eiter´s work in the alienating and manipulating processing of digitally taken photos. On his extensive travels and long working stays, most recently 2013 in Australia, Marin Eiter increasingly used digital media. However this was not with the intention to portray the landscapes and produce sentimental images of well-known places. On the contrary- here again visual perception becomes an open and constructive experience.
Should the function of the human eye´s technical twin, the camera, be expended by the ability to discern temperature, then a desert landscape or a building would appear in garish luminous colours. Perception operates both materially and constructively even then, when the coincidence of the missing printer´s ink lends the colouring to the undergrowth and bushes. It is not the imagination that produces these image variations. They are traces of differing levels of reality. At the same time unexpected unknown details often appear to lend power to the imagination of the beholder.
Projections are to be found nowadays quite literally in painting of the artist. Martin Eiter projects onto the canvas the pure light of a beamer, integrating it into the two-dimensionality of the picture to create spaces opening up for further exploration of the two-way illumination between painting and photography.

The point of seeing lies outside the subject, which is constituted by it. The field of imagination unfolds within the gaze, which the objects give me. Originally perception meant feeling, sensing the objects, reading their tracks. The positions of the observer/artist and the world/image are mutually interlaced.
To make one´s way downstream, to drift from the mountain streams to the rivers, to the deserts can be understood as the search to be photo-graphed through light.

Daniela Hölzl