HERO is very proud to present Permanent Wave, a solo show of new large-scale photographic works by digital art pioneer Gerald Van Der Kaap. A fusion of digital photography, screendumps and dadaist sensibility that is especially relevant to today’s art discourse.
The new works are a further exploration of the technique he specially developed for his gigantic artwork at the metro station Europaplein of the new Amsterdam metro. The work covers the walls of the entire platform and had to meet the strictest safety requirements. In order to resist dangerously high temperatures it was made using ultra-durable safety glass. Van Der Kaap: “The demands were so extreme that these new works can also withstand almost any kind of apocalypse."
"Every day we are reminded that we are living in a turbulent time: a time of protest, populism, marketing spin, viruses and of course the escalating climate crisis, in which everything is mediated, by others, but also by ourselves. So naturally this also sticks to all images that I have made, both old and new. There is a black box buzzing with terrabytes of data in my studio. All files are stored on this system. Not just all digital photos and raw videos, but everything, outdated software, web pages from 1995, screenshots, sketches, diary notes, emails, chats. For this exhibition I traveled inside this parallel world. One image lead to another, sometimes to images on old diskettes, which I then brought back to life using vintage system software. Sometimes with a big detour. It explains why some works have strange creation dates. When different parts of the works were made in three different decades, the creation date becomes: 1995-2002-2020. One might say: time is fluïd. One might say: the adulterated new. The new works were made playing around with the files on my desktop. Almost like swiping. But ultimately very precisely executed, printed in layers onto safety glass, which has been partly mirrored.”
The images are mainly landscapes. Skies, gardens, water lilies, but also screenshots of desktops and tv noise (which the artist also regards as landscapes). Sometimes they are engineered, visibly manipulated, as with the trees from a Chinese botanical garden. Screenshots from very early webcam chats are traced and subsequently iterated, like a self-replicating virus. The resulting images appear or disappear as if they are in the middle of a transition between two scenes, a typical video or powerpoint transition, a wipe, or a bars-and-stripes-like transition. They look like frozen transitions, frozen even more after being sealed inside the glass forever.
Printing is done in different layers, giving the final work an undefined depth. They look different from every angle. They have become photos that are photogenic themselves.
The clean, shiny photographic panels in the main gallery space are accompanied by a soundtrack with samples from the raw sound recordings of Beyond Index, the experimental feature film recently made by Van Der Kaap. It generates a dystopian mise-en-scène. We can hear the Chinese actor Yves (Klein) reciting from The Rebel by Albert Camus; industrial factory sounds; footsteps as well as excerpts from the musical score of the film.
Jump into the void
In the ante-room we see a video projection, the re-enactment of Yves Klein's Jump into the Void. It can be understood, as we have seen in Beyond Index, as an end, but also as a beginning. In this context, it generates multiple connotations. It naturally relates to the ambition to free yourself from the weight of limitations, but it also acts as a declaration in favor of autonomy, to the liberation of the idea through re-enactment, copying, reiteration and sampling of digital images, used and adjusted on-the-fly; but always in a deliberately playful way.
The exhibition title is taken from a sentence in a travel dictionary found on an antique market, a strange expression that captures the sensitivity of the exhibition. It is a wish for the impossible, a wave that never crashes, that is always busy, in a state of eternity that is never realised.
Gerald van der Kaap (1959, Enschede, Netherlands) is an Amsterdam-based artist who is regarded as one of the true pioneers of digital art. His work has been subject of numerous exhibitions including two solo shows at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Tate Modern, London; Art Institute, Chicago; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Museum Ludwig, Cologne and Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangdong.
Kaap’s work has been included in important collections like the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam ; Groninger Museum, Netherlands ; Centre G. Pompidou, Paris ; FRAC Nord-Pas de Calais, Dunkerque ; Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam ; Huis Marseille, Amsterdam ; Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam ; H+F Collection, Barcelona ; ABN-AMRO, Netherlands and the Caldic Collection, Rotterdam.