"Grey Study", 2003, 180 x 240 cm
Philipp Lachenmann's Grey Studies, a series of differently formatted color photographs, and his approximately 40-minute video Corporate/Space - LA, were made in the summer of 2003 during his three-month stay at the Villa Aurora, once the home of Lion Feuchtwanger. They draw a different picture of Los Angeles.
In Grey Studies, for which Lachenmann already developed the concept in 1999, surfers are seen with their surfboards in the water by the coast of Pacific Palisades, where Sunset Boulevard meets the Pacific Coast Highway. They are waiting for waves. Recognizable only as dark silhouettes, the surfers are scattered in a (picture) space, whose horizon blurs in the haze, so that it seems without depth, surficial - an unbounded space, almost a non-space. Photographed in a state of suspense that simultaneously condenses and stretches time, the surfers form varying patterns against the different gradations of the bluish grey of the water and the sunless sky. Instead of the popularly deployed image of dynamic
daredevils defying the force of nature of the water with glamorous ease, the surfers in Grey Studies appear as static figures on a blue-grey ground, its nuances depending on the time of day, light and weather, all the way to the moving "stormy grey"...As the title of the series already indicates, Lachenmann not only picks up on existing images and those newly
generated again and again - in films, music, advertising, etc. - of Los Angeles and the Southern California lifestyle, bringing these into contact with his own perception. His Grey Studies are also a inquiry into the processes of the genesis of an image, the relationship between surface and meaning, color, ground and figure.
In Corporate/Space - LA, which seems at first glance to form a world counter to that of the surfers of Grey Studies, the filmic movement through time-space, which Wavelength so seminally staged, is newly formulated, but this time not as a zoom, but rather as an actual movement of the video camera through downtown LA. The video consists of serene camera pans through the Sunday morning emptiness of the streets of the cultural, financial and commercial district. The foray
begins at the so-called "cultural mile", leads past Chandler Hall, the Los Angeles opera and the daring architecture of Frank Gehry's Disney Hall, among others, turns into the bank and insurance company quarter, and finally arrives in visibly delapidated peripheral districts, until other new routes through downtown LA are subsequently taken. The continuous movement is interrupted by traffic lights, the red lights glowing conspicuously in the otherwise sickly pale urban architecture, creating situations of compelled waiting, a topos already familiar from the Grey Studies, although in a displaced form. The movement of the camera pan has an absurdly slow effect altogether, in the face of a society that has stylized rapid, unhindered motion into a myth and the possible uses of the car into a distinguishing criterion - not to mention the images of high-speed car chases, through which Los Angeles is "experienced" by movie and television viewers...
Lachenmann's conceptual interest in the media-specific characteristics of photography, film and video, and his focus on the structure, the creation processes, the meanings and effects of images, connect in Grey Studies and Corporate/Space - LA with the images and worlds of ideas that the artist encountered during his stay in Los Angeles...
Text by Astrid Wege from the 48-pages catalogue by Philipp Lachenmann “Space_Surrogates”