Between publication and exhibition with Lukas Kindermann’s Illustrated London News Editions

Between publication and exhibition with Lukas Kindermann’s Illustrated London News Editions

Between publication and exhibition with Lukas Kindermann’s Illustrated London News Editions

On March 7th, 2020, ´uns artbooks presented its second publication by artist Lukas Kindermann, in cooperation with Studio Studio. The publication is presented as an exhibition in the gallery formerly known as Maniere Noire in Berlin, where ´uns will be showcasing its future exhibitions. The small white cube is perfectly befitting the transference of the sensibilities of the artists‘ book into the spatial experience of a gallery.

Guðrún Benónýsdóttir has been operating ´uns plural for one since 2015. The aim of ´uns consists of publishing artistic (artist made) books and multiples and curating art shows in various contexts that are sensitive to how the environment, including the architecture of the space and the open discussion between the two forms of the books and the white cube; a similar way of thinking but with different materials. She explained to me that her affinity for moving between curating exhibitions and publication matters was a natural development of her investigation of the book format.

The work of Lukas Kindermann is an exceptional example of this aesthetic. In Kindermann’s Illustrated London News Editions, a novel perspective is given to the newspaper as an object of design history as well as a medium that once announced the present moment; it was New at one point in time. Today, in times of such unprecedented news, this expanded view of the ‘News’ medium as a historical object gives weight to both the technological present and the global arrival of time, change, and information. After all, the book form has always been the carrier of information that lasts the longest.

The edition marks the release of a series of works on The Illustrated London News, pen-plotter drawings over 19th-century engravings taken from the world’s first illustrated weekly news magazine. Kindermann´s publication is available in two different versions which focus on two different images whose titles come from the captions of the original The Illustrated London News images: THE HORSES` MORNING BATH AT CALCUTTA & LOADING SAND – PAS DE CALAIS: THREATENING WEATHER. The two images are opposite in nature as one highlights the main scene while the other puts the focus on the margins. In both cases, the final images are highly dramatic in their own way with the very loud and busy action of the bathing horses in the water and the dark and silent horse-drawn buggy on the beach.

The London Illustrated News publication is based on the same series of pen plotter ink drawings that Kindermann exhibited at The Living Art Museum in Reykjavik, ´Distant Matter´ with Katrín Agnes Klar in 2018. The artist has since been expanding on his interest in the similarity of hatchings in historic engravings and those used in his pen plotter drawings when he started to collect original historic engravings several years ago. “If you look in close detail,” he says, “you can find structures in 16th-century engravings that are very similar to today’s 3D mesh.”

As part of his artistic process, the collection of historical material provides an interesting perspective on the changing techniques of image creation over time. When the opportunity arose to purchase a huge collection of original prints from The Illustrated London News it fell very much in line with these techniques of image creation as the Illustrated London News marks the beginning of mass media images, providing an incredible view of the continuum of the types of news images being consumed from then to now. Being the first global illustrated weekly newspaper, it marks a historic moment in media, building the foundation of the images we are now inundated with. “Flipping through the sheets in my studio, I often realize that there are in fact many similarities between today’s and the 19th century’s news images.”

It is these similarities that Kindermann expands upon throughout the previous series of pen plotter drawings over historic material which includes original engravings from different centuries, for example, early encyclopedias like ‘Cosmographia’, the earliest German-language description of the world, published by Sebastian Münster in 1544. ‘Cosmographia’ and other prints he has worked with come from publications that represent the state-of-the-art during their time of publication. And as has been the nature of the book since printing began, it showcases the apex of knowledge and technical possibilities for the time. Print culture represents the culture and credibility surrounding the book form that was especially crucial in Early Modern scientific works such as Münster’s ‘Cosmographia’. In Kindermann’s work, he uses the history of print culture to realize the role of visual representations as mediatory instances between practical knowledge and theoretical knowledge, using the interaction between images and texts to reveal the synthesizing potential of images to bring fragments of knowledge together to create a global picture. On many of the historical materials he uses, his overlaying pen plotter drawings are purposeful in guiding the information that is synthesized between image and text.

“Most pen plotter drawings on engravings are covering the main motive of the images which leads the viewers’ attention to the side scenarios of the original engravings. The black elements consist of fine grids that are drawn by the pen plotter with a black ink pen. Basically, they are very thin hatchings; or, contemporary media techniques overlapping historic techniques. I only made a very few exceptions where I highlighted the main spectacle of the prints through a circle such as in „The Horses Morning Bath at Calcutta“. On one hand, it can be good to break up your own rules, while on the other hand, it has to do with the images themselves and how they are constructed. I’m interested to see how the images are changed by my interruption.”

Newspaper, 40 pages, 35 x 50 cm, 2019, published in an edition of 100 signed and numbered copies by ‘uns artbooks Berlin/Reykjavík.

“The publication, THE HORSES` MORNING BATH AT CALCUTTA & LOADING SAND – PAS DE CALAIS: THREATENING WEATHER, follows clear principles,” says Kindermann. “Basically, it consists of two enlarged works which are pen plotter drawings over two London Illustrated News sheets, which I scanned, had blown up, cut to single sheets and, finally, folded like a newspaper.”

Working closely with Studio Studio, a design studio based in Reykjavik, smaller details were developed that one may overlook without holding the object in hand. For example, that the 100 copies are published with mirroring titles in two different versions of 50 copies each: one Version starting with „The Horses Morning Bath“ on the first page and the other version staring with „Loading Sand“. It is possible to take one version of the publication and order it the other way around so that the result is another version. The result is a highly transformable object, instead of a clearly defined book, which the viewer can read/view in different ways with a varying combination of image/text in each instance of the fragment vs. the whole. It is at once a newspaper, a kind of graphic novel-style book, as well as a large scale print to put on a wall. In the different combinations caused by the order of the sheets, there are accidental combinations that Kindermann left to chance, a conceptual approach towards the publication as an art object.


Erin Honeycutt

The publication has been printed in the UK, like the originals, but this time in Glasgow by a small printing press specialized in newspapers connected to the Glasgow School of Art. The publication is made possible with generous support by Erwin und Gisela von Steiner-Stiftung, München.

Lukas Kindermann, born 1984, is a Munich based visual artist. He graduated from the Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design / ZKM and the Academy of Fine Arts Munich. Among others his works have been shown at the Living Art Museum, Reykjavík (IS), Haus der Kunst, Munich (GER), Reykjavík Art Museum (IS), Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe (GER), Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna (AT), National Centre for Contemporary Arts, St. Petersburg (RU), Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (FR).

Photos by Lukas Kindermann

The Scale of It All

The Scale of It All

The Scale of It All

From screensaver screenshots taken in 2007 by Katrín Agnes Klar to pen plotter drawings on engravings from Baroque 1730 publications by Lukas Kindermann in 2018, Distant Matter, now on view at The Living Art Museum, takes that which is remote and brings it under close inspection.

The artists’ first exhibition together on this scale since meeting at the Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design/ZKM ten years ago is vast in its breadth of subject matter and material discourse. It is seemingly difficult to break into, as though your body were being asked to negotiate between the vast scales and ratios having a dialogue within the space. Am I infinitely small or infinitely large? Does that meteorite (1:1, 2016, Lukas Kindermann), 3D printed based on data gathered from NASA and lying on the floor, exist just as much in this exhibition as it does on Mars? Does a 3D print make the object a hyper-real version of itself, etched layer by layer out of silica sand and epoxy resin? Am I the distant matter at hand or does that moniker belong to these objects in quiet conversation?

The conversation seemingly concerns the history of tools used in measuring the great distances between things such as the entire sky as in Lukas’ Atlas, 2018, in which an original copy of a photographic atlas stellarium by Hans Vehenberg is placed on a wooden platform. The viewer looks down into an inverted sky graphed into measurable squares which are scattered with both the originals of fossils, meteorites and roman shards as well as 3D printed carbon-silica sand and PLA replications. The conversation also concerns the small distances between things, as in the domestic and the everyday, as in the wallpapering table on which Katrín’s gradients of color are UV printed that could just as well be in your living room.

When placed side by side, these two vast scales at work allow the exhibition space to breathe – both in long inhalations and in short gasps – the body’s sense of scale likewise tries to keep up while the distant and the conjunct play in reciprocal motions, back and forth (like the movement of pen plotters, 3D printer arms, and the light beam from an image scanner creating a digital version of what once was held in your hands.)

The quote about quantum physics that is all too easily misunderstood in layman’s terms comes to mind while walking around the space. It goes something like this: you are an observer located at a single point in space-time, an event. The singularity principle also comes to mind, something about how equations that diverge towards infinity are afterward completely unknown to us.

The exhibition can take you through a crash course in these ideas but leave you feeling very human in the end, returned to the land, so to speak, like the meteorite itself brought you back, even if as a 3D print – which will have to do, since that appears to be the direction of things as 3D printing technology infiltrates our biology, building prosthetics and completely collapsing the staggering Old World equation of measuring costs in material, time, and energy on a human scale. The exhibition can take you to these places, yet leave you, rather singularly, with a body of resources and tools to extend the senses into vast distances to be mapped, like tossing a rock into a well and listening to the echo to get an idea of the depth and fullness.

In conversation with Katrín, I am told that she and Lukas have always had a conceptual approach:

“The art movements of the 1960s and early ‘70s like Land Art and Minimal Art have been an influence on both of our work, just as much as a Pop point of view. Perhaps symptomatic of the times we are in, I would say young artists have a wide-ranging frame of reference. Essential for both of us, though, is the fundamental concern in creating good images. Creating an image has such a universal meaning and is so deep in global history, but everyone connects to it at the same time.”

While seemingly a simple and straightforward concern, in the making of good images one can look at many overlapping cultural and scientific histories to see the depth at which one can travel in search for how to go about this activity. What makes it so difficult? Are there too many demands on the image in the 21st century or not enough? Consider: Is it aesthetically pleasing, in good resolution, conducive to the surroundings, making the best use of the technology that made it? “I grew up with an Icelandic art history background so the strong tradition of the influence of the landscape on the viewer has always been present. In all of my works,” Katrín says, “ I am imitating nature.” Perhaps that is the only real standard by which to judge a good image.

Katrín has worked before with the poster medium, one of many everyday objects she often includes in her work. On one whole wall of the exhibition space, a grid of posters called Blue Gradient (taken from airplane), 2018, is wallpapered to site-specific dimensions. The photo, indeed taken from the window of an airplane, shows a gradient stretching from dark blue sky to white horizon line. “Vice versa to the imitation of nature with computer-based tools,” Katrín says, “I simulate digital effects with material captured in nature, with photographs of the sky.” The photo is turned sideways so that the white horizon lines now touch other white horizon lines and are transformed into a wall of roving light photo scanners, giving the sensation that the whole room is in the process of being copied, digitized, turned into pixels, tossed into outer space and returned to something we can understand here in this room, like an everyday affair (like the cloud our phones and computers send data to, an everyday reality, so abstract yet mundane at this point.)

Works with UV printing, very common in advertising, are together with other techniques adapted from that field, definitely part of her ‘everyday’ oeuvre. However, unlike in advertisement, her images are based on a conceptual use of color. Boundary Colors (2015) is based on the color theories of Goethe who observed colors on the borders of darkness, which Katrín tells me, is, of course, sunrise and sunset. The piece in question is a lenticular image, meaning it changes depending on the angle from which it is viewed, displaying an almost time-lapse painting display of colors corresponding to those edges of darkness.

“A lot of these works are process-based, and because of the nature of the long-distance atmosphere, many of the final curatorial decisions were made on site,” added curator, Becky Forsythe. “There was this flexibility, from beginning to end, which is the way I like to approach exhibition making.” This open flexibility practically bleeds into the horizon, making distant matter an object on the table, observable from an airplane window or through your mobile phone, stretching across vast distances that could also be seen as quite minuscule. Formal elements connect the space through color gradients, scales, and patterns, like the structural layers creating a 3D print which build upon the other, making the intangible tangible. The space breathes, despite the large number of works in the room; perhaps it is the abundance of gradients of colors, allowing everything to exist on its own scale.

Erin Honeycutt

Distant Matter at The Living Art Museum by Katrín Agnes Klar and Lukas Kindermann. Curated by Becky Forsythe

Exhibition duration: 19.01.18 – 11.03.18

Photos: Vigfús Birgisson


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