1709 Witness I

28 LPI lenticular print,
140 x 120 x 2 cm
Edition of 3

Witnesses (2017) consist of five large-format lenticular prints mounted on aluminium dibond. The lenticular system is the only imaging process that allows for several different images to be displayed in a single print. At least two images taken at inter-eye distance are required, though it is most common to blend four or more images. These prints are made with a special stereoscopic camera that captures the multiple images simultaneously.

“One can stand in front of a lenticular image and attempt to grasp the picture field as a whole, as one approaches the works of Mark Rothko or Clyfford Still. But this only does justice to the purely two-dimensional surface, and not the pictorial space or, more correctly, the process of temporalising the space. Even a
simple rotation of the head leads to uncertainty, as the static is continuously transformed into countless variables. How do you consider a lenticular print if the process of seeing does not lead to any result but the process itself? Lenticular prints demand physical effort. The viewing must be appropriate to the spatial
component, and this takes time.

It is only through this cleverly constructed repetition that the individual forms can be experienced as a complete work. The repetition turns the abstract forms into components of a larger ornament. Due to the rhythmic repetition, the individual works now appear to be more like parts of a piece of music. And due to the form of their arrangement, and the clear logic behind the computer-designed lenticular prints, one may be reminded of a fugue. In a fugue, the musical theme is introduced at the beginning and then played throughout, repeated, mirrored and estranged in different variations.

Order, repetition, rhythm and ornament also points to the close relationship of lenticular prints to mathematics. The German mathematician Max Bense, who quoted in his chapter Die Mathematik in der Ornamentik (The Mathematics in Ornamentation) entire passages from Wilhelm Worringer’s dissertation Abstraktion und Einfühlung (Abstraction and Empathy), declared that it is “irrelevant at first whether the geometric ornament already existed as such, or if it has developed from the plant ornament”.

For him the “mathematization of art . . . has a morphological purpose; not just in creating certain figures from the material prescribed, for the artistic acts are subject to mathematical aspects; the composition of artistic elements also fall prey to mathematization”. As an example, Bense calls on the “repetition of an element according to the laws of symmetry, one of the most general and oldest processes of mathematization in fine art, which, moreover, must unite geometric and arithmetic points of view” .

Wassily Kandinsky was similarly inspired by Worringer’s fundamental theses, as he wrote in 1911: “If we would start to destroy our connection to nature, enforce the liberation by all means and be satisfied with a combination of pure colour and independent shapes, we would create art that looks like geometrical ornaments that would look like a tie or a carpet”. 

Harald Kraemer

The video is of the lenticular work Witnesses I-V.