Jakob Jensen, the Light Walker

“… and from somewhere, … the faint Watches Replica  reflection of a light in pendular rhythm came gliding into the chamber like the last reverberation of an eternal tide, like the last reverberation of eternally changing eras, like the last reflection of an infinitely distant eye, so lost, so broken, so threatening in its remoteness, so fraught with distance that is was a challenge to question oneself as to the reality050-SEPROAUTH-02 or unreality of one’s own existence …“
Hermann Broch, Der Tod des Vergil, New York 1945
transl. by Jean Starr Untermeyer
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It’s dark, Watches Replica and here in Jakob Jensen’s Salzau the light oscillates, shines in twilit ambiguity from the walls, illuminates pendulously and full of shadows, like in the office of a detective in a 1950s B-movie. Or200-120 else the light is split and lies on the floor bundled into heaps, as if it had been dragged in, in sacks full. Jakob Jens200-120 n seeks the light and its movement in the course of becoming an image. The installation in Salzau comprises two large separately hung photographs, eleven photogravures facing into a circle, and wood chips distributed in heaps around the rooms. The photographs and photogravures were taken in different places in Denmark and Germany, mostly during the night. The wood chips areMB2-703 from around the manor  house of Salzau, cut from roots, shrubs and trees and often piled in the shape of small “ramparts” that enclose sections of land. These bring nature back into the homeliness of man, nature formed, dispersed into its elements, robbed of all growth and consigned to its end. Jensen impels the wood into space and the light into the image. What emerges in between is a parcours of artistic enlightenment. But let us first go back two centuries in time to when, after the Promethean fire, light was domesticated a second time, not as a shining and warming light, but quenched and framed as an image of time.

No mortal would ever be able to express the070-462 nature of light, wrote Goethe in 1810 in a letter to Karl Friedrich Graf Reinhard, “and were he to be able to do so, no one would understand him, just as no one understands light”. Even Goethe’s melancholic insig200-120 ht into the eternal darkness of light has a polemical sound to it, aimed at his great adversary Isaac Newton. He, Goethe, quite Socratic, understood if not his ignorance, then his knowledge of his insufficient insight into the phenomena of light, without concealing this behind a secular theory grounded in mere fallacies. This is how the search for an understanding of light proceeded exactly two centuries ago. In that same year, 1810, Johann WilhelWatches Replica m Ritter, the great physicist and friend of Novalis, published his Nachgelassene Fragmente  in which we can read the following: “So the whole world is eye, retina and light beam everywhere. Everything is seen, known. Who comprehends it?” And a few years later, Hegel was to write in his Encyclopaedia: “Light is the effective identity to make everything identical,” night shrouds in its darkness “the absolute possibility of everything, chaos,” while light is pure form, which has being only in its unity with night. In the brightness of day, in the light, darkness gets beyond itself, it becomes identical only with light and is sublated in light. That darkness only materialises in light can also apply to the essence of becoming-light in light-writing. For not only has light come to be in the photographic image by materialising the shined-on and light-str200-120 ong objects as they gradually stand out from the darkness, but light has also gone, in so far as the movement of light towards its materialisation finds an, at least preliminary, end on the photographic carrier. The light image itself, the photograph, embraces the mutual correspondence between light and darkness.

Several years later, in 1843, after the invention of photography, the Königsberg scholar Ludwig Moser wrote: “Light was there so that it might be seen, Daguerre forced it to make itself known in a particular way, outside the eye,” and it would not be long before the iodised silver plate would replace the eye. And in his very worthwhile essay of 1842 entitled Über den Prozess des Sehens und die Wirkung des Lichtes auf alle Körper (On Vision and the Action of Light on all Bodies, 1943) Moser concludes: “So in our explorations we have to make ourselves independent of that eye whose data has so poorly illuminated the darkness that one should 200-120 rather say that it is due to the eye that this state of darkness was actually imputed to nature.” So everything is light, it is just that the eye is unable to grasp it. In Jensen’s works the photographic gaze grasps the light, alienates space or duplicates the phenomena.

The twentie200-120 th century was decisively influenced by Einstein’s theory of relativity and Heisenberg’s uncertainty relation. For human existence, the speed of light is an important quantity to the extent that it places man in relation to space and time. Paul Virilio therefore speaks of renaming the measurement of time, calling ch200-120 ronology chronoscopy: “The temporal order of sequence, in Leibniz’ sense, becomes an ord200-120 er of exposition with Einstein, it becomes a representational system of a physical world in which future, present and past become interlinked figures ofWatches Replica  underexposure, exposure200-120  and overexposure.” Today, the speed of light is considered to be about 300,000 kilometres per second. And at CERN in Geneva, at that speed, which is not actually visible to the naked eye, particles are shot through two ducts over a length of 27 kilometres and in an atmosphere-free space. The fundamental question in Geneva is: How can wWatches Replica e achieve the energy required to produce the conditions prevailing at the beginning of the universe? Now, neither the artist Jakob Jensen, nor his linguistic companion are well versed enough in quantum physics to be able to have anything more than a primarily metaphysical interest in this sheer unimaginable speed of matter. While some lament seeing the fate of the world in the hands of physicists and bureaucrats in Geneva whose experimental drive for knowledge could have the world disappear in a black hole, others, in their search for the “divine particle”, deliriously claim to be able to turn all our knowledge about the continued existence of this world upside down.

With his title Large Image Collider, Jensen lays a trail by alluding to the Large Hadron Collider at the Centre de Recherche Nucléaire, CERN, in Geneva. Jensen’s Salzau is a poetically artistic interrogation of light, oscillating, as it shines, between the domesticated Promethean fire, the frantic standstill (Paul Virilio) of the 0.00009 seconds requiWatches Replica red by the particle to cover a circuit of 27 kilometres, and the halting gesture of the artist who, as Caspar David Friedrich once painted the floes of the Ice Sea, heaped up slivers of hacked wood in Salzau, reversing inside and outside, as once did Walter de Maria. Jakob Jensen has nothing to do with Land Art, nor, despite borrowings, does he have any romantic desire for a lost reconciliation with nature. Instead, with these heaps of matter and these light images, he considers our shifted view of nature, splintered into tiny pieces of protracted eternity. Photography robbed the eye of observation. The Königsberg scholar Ludwig Moser was early in stating this. More obviously and more precisely than ever before, the invisible, or what is difficult for the eye, steps forth. Only it is now presented to man as a fait accompli, complete, and always unchangeable, that is, as a shone light which we only approach aesthetically. Light years, condensed into fractions of seconds, are hanging here on the walls. The images and creaturely manifestations in the rooms unite into a small cosmogony which accomplishes in the twinkling of an eye the origin of the cosmos, between light and dark, arrival and departure. Herein lurks a question which is understandable even for the dilettante and which inspires the knowledgeable with fear, the question raised by the physicists in CERN about the degree to which the black hole absorbs or loses matter, the degree to which origin and end could coincide? In eleven photogravures Jakob Jensen apparently pursues a movement of light, architecturally reminiscent of the dodecagon of the Large Hadron Collider in CERN. On copper-print paper light is shattered, penetrated by darkness, as Hegel wrote, in union with night. The two large photographs Dipper and Premature Sunrise also immerse light in darkness – both resolutions / dissolutions in the many sense of the term, disseminations of natural and technological space, horizons sputtered in pixels.

A great compatriot of Jakob JenWatches Replica sen’s, Søren Kierkegård, noted on 15 April 1834: “You always require a light to see another light for certain. For if one were to consider everything as quite dark and that there was just one spot of light, one could not determine at all which spot it was, as spatial relations cannot be determined i200-120 n the dark. Only when another light is added would one be able to determine the location of the one in relation to the other.” Jakob Jensen takes up this concept of a bright multiplicity, looks, and lets us look into the dark so as to enaWatches Replica ble the ungraspable movement of the energetic thrusts of light to stop off quietly at the rooms in Salzau.

Hubertus von Amelunxen

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