curated by Elisabeth Saubach

K18 Gallery, Koroška cesta 18, 2000 Maribor, 2019

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The exhibition „amorphous bodies“ by the Austrian media artist Niki Passath deals with the phenomenon of ritual incantation. Passath searches in his artistic creations answers to the mystery of life, the people, their emotions, social behaviour, and human behaviour compared to machines and to the surrounding nature. On this adventurous journey in search for knowledge he touches different disciplines: from robotics to artificial intelligence, from quantum physics to the life sciences. On different research travels through Europe to the Americas, Africa and Australia he is finding answers, which he assembles in kinetic objects, photographs and artistic-scientific configurations. He expresses himself using different materials, technologies and media and is always looking for new challenges in form and content. He works in different artistic media and cooperates in scientific research projects.

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During his residency in Maribor, Passath dealt extensively with the subject of ritual. He alludes to the phenomenon in his artistic practice primarily through the principle of repetition. An “incantation” in the actual sense means to deliberate a request to a higher being and above all the summoning and visible making of a supernatural being. A ritual is characterized primarily by its repetitive character and the associated patterns of action, as well as a fixed place and a certain time. Through the repetitive process of digitally generated and robotically constructed images, the work itself refers to the ritual. Furthermore, for Maribor, the principle of the series is the transformation of the amorphous body (digitally summoned body) produced by digital tools – into a real object – means: the transfer or “summoning” from the emptiness of virtual space into the objecthood of the real experienceable world. Passath thus approaches the theme of incantation via a process-oriented method of analysis, in which he examines the visually perceptible qualities of the representation of the virtually generated amorphous body and thus “incites” in the real world. In this process, sculptural objects and drawings on paper were created that still echo the form of the virtually generated object in their shadowy nuance of lines.

The exhibition presents three different approaches of the artist in an in situ installation. On the one hand, performances for the opening will take place, once by a drawing machine mounted in the wall, which allows the amorphous body to appear again as “anatomical studies” (Passath, 2019) in realtime on the canvas, as well as a 3D printer, which will create a plastic variant of the body. On the other hand, drawings on paper and a three-dimensional object – digital artefacts of the polargraphapparatus and 3D printer, where created in the same way prior to the exhibition. And finally, a projection of the body is presented in virtual space, which is moved by the artist in constant movement and opens the window into the virtual world.

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The title of the exhibition is a further implicit reference to the examination of the content of the phenomenon ritual: in physics and chemistry, amorphous material (Greek. “without form”) means a substance in which atoms do not form ordered structures in irregular patterns. In the context of making something invisible visible, the lack of form – the (abstract) amorphous body – becomes the only possible form.

Exhibition text, K18, Maribor, © Elisabeth Saubach

Photos by: Gregor Salobir, guestroom maribor, k18 Gallery, 2019