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Ad Gabriele Leidloff: Video of a Moving Visual Object

Notes: Artists Collaborate with Neurologists The Journal of Neuro-Aesthetic Theory #2

The flood of images we are so used to is so overwhelming that often only stills, “situative processes of ‘frozen’ movements,” can help us to recover its elements. How does the brain deal with all this visual hyper-information? One way, of course, is not to look.


Gabriele Leidloff
Moving Visual Object
video stills

But if we view any part of this flood of images, we may stop following these external pictures with our eyes. Instead, we may begin to interpret images based on continuously generated internal models of our surrounding world that are repetitive and perseverant and lack real visual information. In this case, the rapidly changing pictures of low-to-zero information do not “guide” our eyes and brain, as we might believe. This is also the point where visual communication—the self and the picture (i.e., the selves of viewer and artist meeting through the picture)—comes to a standstill. Here, the metaphor of death may be evoked as the visual point of zero contact of the non-moving eye (brain) and the internal model of what the viewer’s mind is ready to see.

“Lady Di”

The circular pictures as well as the mystical repetition of bells in Gabriele Leidloff’s video work–a staged scenery of the round-the-clock, worldwide reporting done on Lady Di’s funeral, filmed from television, recopied, and isolated–demonstrate nicely this turning point of visual imagery. It is a “standstill” that focuses on the viewer’s internal model and sets the “mystic drama” to zero. This then permits a new, more intrinsic communication with the underlying texture and content of the video pictures.

The conversion of Lady Di’s dead body into an empty and fuzzy “Moving Visual Object,” as shown in this piece of video work, is interpreted by the viewer as the Princess laying in the coffin. However, her body may not have actually been in there, and the truth cannot be determined while watching the video endlessly replay. This expresses the idea of ambiguous mystification, which here expands between the real belief of the Princess’ tragedy, and the virtual sight of a mystified object and former subject, which is presented in complete audio-visual emptiness.

Gabriele Leidloff works with video, film, photography and medical radiographic imaging which she transforms into film-like processes. By means of the confrontation of these imaging technologies using man-made bodies, new forms are created, which challenge usual modes of seeing, question the conventional narrative structure and its mechanical speed, and unsettle visual media's claim to objectivity. She focuses primarily on the relationship between art and science. She conceptualized and launched the project l o g - i n / l o c k e d o u t, an international forum which provides a point of intersection for art and the neurosciences, http://www.locked-in.com. Her work has been on view in exhibitions at the ZKM Karlsruhe, the Martin-Gropius-Bau Berlin, as well as in various galleries and universities in Germany and the US, and has been reviewed in the magazine Kunstforum, and is included in publications by DuMont and Henschel. Ms. Leidloff lives in Berlin. Wolfgang H. Zangemeister, M.D., is Professor of Neurology at the University of Hamburg. Besides being a senior clinical and teaching Neurologist at the University of Hamburg, he is head of the clinical neuro-science unit for neuro-ophthalmology and neuro-otology. His research has included studies on eye and head movements, and their coordination in normal subjects and patients. He has studied scan and search path eye movements in reading, and while looking at normal and artistic images in normal Ss and subjects with neuro-visual deficits such as hemianopia and neglect. He has a longstanding interest and done scientific research in the relation between neuroscience and visual art. Dr. Zangemeister is the author of Visual Attention and Cognition (Amsterdam, Oxford, New York: Elsevier Publications, 1996). This review was originally published in U. Frohne (ed.), video cult/ures. multimediale Installationen der 90er Jahre, DuMont, Köln 1999. Reprinted with permission.