Ornella Fieres. The Recurring Frequency of a Fading Moment

10 Mar 2018 – 14 Apr 2018

Sexauer Gallery

Berlin, Germany


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In her second exhibition at SEXAUER, Ornella Fieres examines the epistemological question about the image and the meaning of time.


She explores the transitions between analogue and digital imagery and investigates the information loss generated by the attempt to capture moments. For years she has been developing image and audio techniques for this purpose. With these methods she combines analog and digital media and merges different points in time. 

For the exhibition The Recurring Frequency of a Fading Moment, Ornella Fieres worked with photography and film material from the 1940s to the 1970s. In the series "The Essence of a Moment / Fourier" (small frames with two pictures) she displays a historical photograph next to its visualized Fourier transformation. The Fourier transform is a compression algorithm that is the basis for known data formats such as JPG or MP3. By applying this algorithm, the image frequencies are analyzed and represented in a star-shaped coordinate system. A mathematical fingerprint of the image is created. The pictures next to each other indicate the same meaning, the same instance. But only the photographic image is accessible to the human visual comprehension. The "star shape" of the Fourier transform, on the other hand, can only be read by a computer. This juxtaposition of two forms of representation not only underlines and visualizes the different ways of analyzing data, but also raises the much older question of what an image actually is.

The series "The Essence of a Moment / Inverse Fourier" (large pictures) is a continuation of the technique described above. In these images, Fieres deletes data from the Fourier analysis and converts it back into an image. The destruction process is intuitive and can only be controlled by the artist to a limited extent. Fieres then leaves the creation of the recognizable image to the computer. The destruction of the information results in distorted, partly darkened images with mysterious duplications and shadowy outlines. In other words: After the artist's destructive intervention, the computer constructs a new moment using the remaining data from an old photograph. The Recurring Frequency of a Fading Moment. 

Ornella Fieres deliberately gives up her control in this series. Even though humans once wrote the algorithms used by computers to convert, send or compress image data, users no longer have any influence on the calculation processes. The artist experiments with this lack of control in an almost alchemistic manner. Her works refer to our daily exposure to algorithms that we do not know, comprehend or have power over. 

The third part of the exhibition consists of a video installation with three screens showing old documentary film recordings. In her research work, Ornella Fieres repeatedly encounters photographs of television screens from the 1950s to 1970s. At that time there were no screenshots yet and historical moments were perceived collectively - thus simultaneously - people often photographed television broadcasts. This act of capturing made the artist herself record old documentaries off of computer screens. Fieres then slowed down these sound and image recordings by over a thousand times. The slow motion makes technically inexplicable pixel transitions, like mysterious artifacts, visible. The recording process also visualizes interlaced images, which are otherwise assembled by the human cognitive apparatus and are therefore not perceived. The slowing-down of the audio results in a droning, muffled sound. The old films deal with early computer-based data acquisition, the invention of slow motion and the chemistry of analogue photography. Everything comes full circle. The fourth work group shows film stills on hand-made paper, including texts composed by Ornella Fieres from fragments of the off-voices of the documentaries. And while the visitor reads the text, the thousandfold slowed down voices simultaneously float in the room.

Ornella Fieres' research work conjures moments from the past. We see people we don't know and who are probably no longer alive. Through the transformation, deconstruction and manipulation of the information carriers and narrative mediums, questions of continuity, depiction, repetition, appearances, perception, readability, time and narrative arise anew. The Recurring Frequency of a Fading Moment.

Exhibiting artists

Ornella Fieres


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