21. São Paulo Biennale, Brasilien
21. September – 10. Dezember 1991

Empty Frames
Empty Frames
Empty Frames
Empty Frames
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Empty Frames, 1991. Aufzeichnung der spezifischen Raumlicht-, Temperatur- und Luft­feuchte­situation zum Zeitpunkt des Biennaleaufbaus. Thermographische Abtastung mit Handkopierer (Detail, 27x8cm).


Franz John – Empty Frames
21. Bienal International de São Paulo, 1991 (Ausstellungskatalog, englischer Originaltext)

Empty Frames is a series of projects, in which Franz John integrates physical discharging processes into his installations. The Empty Frame Installation in the Biennial space is made out of temperature–sen­sitive paper, which was exposed via a portable copymachine. It´s just that the copymachine did not reproduce a surface of an original as it would have been usual, but reacted media-specific by a CCD-chip to its surrounding as a whole, and produced that way the record of an „error-function“. In the course of this process blackish graphisms, drawings, signs are originated on white paper, dif­fe­r­ing in blackness, denseness and the shading of grey. There is a dialectic between the picture and it’s cons­ti­tuting materials in every handmade painting. On the one hand one can always describe the material level, where you can perceive colors, canvas and certain techniques but no picture, and you are on the other hand unable to describe why you never­theless understand this material inven­tory as a picture; thus the per­ception of pictures is indeed a creative process, a reproduction in the true sense of the word, a reciprocal activity in relation to painting as such, which translates a seen or an imagined picture via certain techniques and a certain medium onto a picture supporting surface. The handcrafted pro­duc­tion of an image is always cultural controllable by education and commission of the painter and is a conscious act. Franz John’s Empty Frames are the result of a mechanical way of pro­ducing pictures, rather the model of a complex organical function and just like these nearly un­con­trol­lable. The chaotic structure of it’s signs corresponds with the infinite data which actually con­stitute the world of today. In so far the Empty Frames are not art but the complex translation of re­al­ity into the truth of a machine. To probe onto this machinemade truth as a viewer means to make up one’s own picture, to create art, an art that is up to date. Text by Markus Müller


(…)  Franz John, schon 1989 dabei, brachte wieder einen tragbaren Hand­kopierer mit und nahm auf den langen Ther­mo­bändern nichts anderes auf als die Licht- und Temperatur­verhältnisse im Aus­stel­lungs­raum. Die Streifen hängte er auf ein typisch brasilia­nisches Plakat­gestell aus Eukalyptus­holz(1), eine An­spielung auf die Diskus­sionen um die Regen­wald­abholzung.  Sebastian Preuss
Auszug aus: German Art in São Paulo,  Deutsche Kunst auf der Biennale 1951 – 2012,
Hatje Cantz Verlag,  2013

(1) s. auch:  Eukalypse Now,  in:  Die Zeit, #35/1993