Brand New Evidence
Simple search in Google for UFO pictures provides more than million results, from the oldest blurry black and white photos to colorful digital graphics of high quality. We can reach entire pages dedicated to conspiracy theories, thousands of articles about aliens and mysteries of our universe. Then come films of all lengths and qualities, among them scary home-footage videos and famous great sci-fi productions - basically amount of related materials seems to be endless and there are many more to be created. The charm of mystery drives wide visual imaginarium, which is a great inspiration for artists and filmmakers, as much as it simply feeds crowds greedy for sensation. In Recognition – the new exhibition of Platan Gallery in Budapest, presenting works of Polish photographer Szymon Roginski and Hungarian photographer Milan Racmolnar, famous sci-fi clichés are the beginning of the dark mockumentary.
Patrycja Rup: During the exhibition, we will see series of photographs along with digital graphics. Many of presented works imitate the ambience of mystery stories or science fiction. Were there any specific events, art works or films, which were in your opinion visually influential for your project? Do you have any favorite mystery stories or conspiracy theories?
Szymon Rogiński: Collective visual imagination is very powerful – if we asked people to describe how they imagine aliens landing on Earth, probably majority would portray film scene based on American blockbusters clichés. In my photographic series, I wanted to challenge this topic by placing it in familiar Polish landscapes.
My main source of inspiration for Project UFO was my colleague and assistant, who believed in possibility of encountering UFO. We used to spend a lot of time together during work, especially, when we were travelling by night through Poland and kept discussing it. His vivid faith made me visualize UFO landing on Polish ground and pushed me to start taking pictures.
I myself rather search for scientific explanation for extraterrestrial life. Maybe soon we will prove existence of other forms of life in the universe, as the research is in progress and the possibility of their nonexistence is so small, that we may assume they are there. I think we will be surprised about the form of this life, which probably won’t have anything in common with its Hollywood representations.
Milan Racmolnar: Unfortunately I can’t provide a specific film or series which I have been influenced by. In most cases I just remember a certain atmosphere and that is what I want to achieve with my series, to have a specific feeling. No, I don't really deal with conspiracy theories. :)
PR: Can you tell us more about the creation process behind works exhibited in Platan Gallery?
MR: Well certainly. One part of my works was shot with a DSLR converted to pick up infrared light. The infrared light scatters differently in the human body, which is the key process I used during production of these pictures.
The other part is about seeking for new planets, and this mysterious galaxy actually consists of mock-ups. The third part is a CGI project, where I just wanted to create strange yet interesting atmospheres without using the classical photography techniques, but at the same time constructing these images in a photographic conscious way.
SR: During few years of my work on this project I was searching for places, which are somehow related to UFO narratives due to specific conspiracy theories followers. The good example can be stone circles built by Goths in I-III century in Kashubia region. There are people who claim these were used by aliens as airstrips. Their main argument is good visibility from high altitude and adequate setting against the sun position. The knowledge of our ancestors about nature was advanced, as their life depended on how much they learnt about it, there is nothing surprising about their worship.
What is more, stone circles were built often on so called “power places”, locations with disturbed gravity. All these elements create the atmosphere of eeriness and provide fertile ground for imagination.
I also took a picture of reinforced concrete construction made by Nazis, coming from times of WWII, which looks similar to well-known British Stonehenge. Due to speculative popular science theory, this construction could be designed for testing prototypes of jet airplanes used by Nazis. At the same time, we know the legendary vehicle called Hauneb, which supposed to look as a flying saucer.
PR: It can be said that in selected art works you boldly and convincingly manipulate the picture, once uncovering the gloomy and scary dimension of everyday life, other time creating futuristic utopia or unearthly landscapes. Digital post-production brings photographs much closer to digital graphics, in some cases manipulation is so advanced that the thin boundary blurs. How do you perceive this switch in medium attribution?
MR: Well for me the main motivation is always to create something else from everyday situations. To see the potential in an ordinary sight or object. Yes, I have been asked many times if my works sometimes are on the border of photography. Well I don't really care about that as long as I can create the necessary impact on my viewers.
SR: In Project UFO I didn’t use any Photoshop manipulations. Most of the effects I reached thanks to analogue techniques, I was using standard photographic methods and worked with light effects and long exposure of the film. Of course each picture went through digital stage of work: scanning and post-production, but I would rather consider these as “cosmetic changes”.
PR: Which of your projects you find as the most significant in your career so far?
SR: So far the most important from the perspective of my career was starting the series Poland Synthesis. There is where I was trying to find a method to present Polish reality and I continue it till now. That was as well a starting point for further visual research, like Project UFO, Blackness and Borderlands.
MR: Maybe the Roma Rosa series, because it is also dealing with perception, but the viewer can easily confront it with his or her experience.
PR: What kind of media would you like to use in your future works, which are most alluring and worth discovering for you? Would you give us a glimpse of your forthcoming projects?
MR: Now I am working on a UV light based project and meanwhile experimenting with a scanner-camera.
SR: I’m currently experimenting and working on few projects: still developing new series Borderlands, which is located literally on peripherals of Polish reality. Few works from this project can be seen w Piktogram Gallery in Warsaw.
Recently I got into new media like VR (Virtual Reality) and AR (Augmented Reality), so maybe my next works will be presented in different dimension.
Artists: Szymon Rogiński, Milan Racmolnar
Curator: Patrycja Rup
Opening: 29th March 2017, 7 PM
On view till 4th May 2017
Platan Gallery, Andrássy Street 32, Budapest
Opening speech by Patrycja Rup
Exhibition is a part of Budapest Photo Festival program.
More information here: http://polinst.hu/node/11149