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Günther Selichar «Suchbilder» | Award ceremony, ORF
Günther Selichar, «Suchbilder», 1992 – 1993
Award ceremony, ORF | Photograph: ORF | ©

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Austria | Interaktives Medienprojekt in Zusammenarbeit mit dem Festival der Regionen und dem ORF/Linz.

 Günther Selichar

In medias res, descriptively (II): In contrast to the commercial promoter, the artist’s aim is not to create an illusion in the hope that people will not see through it. If this is not clear from the beginning, it will be as soon as the viewer is confronted with a second presentation of landscape images. In several Austrian locations, large-format ink-jet prints were installed in places overlook-ing the corresponding «natural» panorama. Viewers are being asked to carefully compare the natural scene to its depiction in order to find built-in errors in the reproductions. It is not accidental that the title «Suchbilder» (literally: «Search Images») reminds us of a simple leisure activity found in the entertainment section of some magazines, sometimes titled «Original and Forgery». Fre-quently these images are two reproductions of a painting with, say, ten differing details. There have also been cases of two reproductions of photographs before and after a disastrous flood, printed side by side for the viewer’s entertaining comparison. This might demonstrate how a view of the whole can be sacrificed for a questionable concentration on details. At this point, that much can be said: Selichar does not blot our view of the whole but opens up an opportunity to recognize it as untrue, as a fictional nature in an overall fictional context [...].

In medias res, analytically: By placing his extremely enlarged ink-jet prints before landscapes in Upper Austria, Günther Selichar links them to the well-known «Find the ten errors» game, but in contrast to the familiar practice of comparison there are some potential irritations. The miniature format in magazine publications, as well as the fact that in the case of the magazine the «original» is another reproduction, contribute to the viewer’s tendency to concentrate on details without ever raising a question about the «whole», the motif in reality—the question never even occurs.

Selichar’s installation works in a different way. Most people still regard nature as «one whole». Perceived as an ambiente, an atmosphere, landscapes are not meticulously scrutinized, unless commercial motives are guiding the eye. However, if it does happen, due to Selichar’s intervention, the manner in which civiliza-tion (that is: culture) has combed through nature anywhere, might begin to register in the mind of some viewers.

From the beginning, the enthusiasm causing people to describe a landscape as «beautiful as a painting» was the dawning realiza-tion that there may be more truth in art than in nature, nature being laid open, exposed to man. However, what kind of art?
Selichar’s outdoor installation marks the transition from a nature alienated from us to a nature being alienated from itself—with our help. Under these conditions the nowadays often-quoted «identity of nature and man» is unmasked as the hopeless stammering of immediacy. This can neither be ignored by art nor by aesthetic theory....

Excerpts from: Uli Bohnen/Christoph Doswald/Walter Seitter, Günther Selichar. Suchbilder, Salzburg/València, 1993–94.