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Martin Kusch

(Vienna, Austria)

Martin Kusch, As Far as In-between, 1994
Martin Kusch, As Far as In-between, 1994
Martin Kusch, Interactive Computer Installation for Public Space, 1997 (video)
Martin Kusch, Interactive Computer Installation for Public Space, 1997 (video)
Born in Austria in 1964, Martin Kusch became involved in the media arts after studying art history, philosophy and painting at the Technical University and Academy of Fine Arts in Berlin (1982-1989). He experimented with 2-D and 3-D video, computer animation and digital photography before focusing on interactive media installations in the mid-1990s. He created a public installation with computerized components that received the Art Prize of the City of Vienna in 1997. The same year, Kusch completed a master's degree in the Department for Visual Media at Vienna's University for Applied Arts, where he has taught since 1999.

The starting point for many of Kusch's recent works is the shadow cast by the spectator, which allows him to combine different densities of reality. Most often, his installations depend on the specific architectural character of the spaces where they are presented. Cameras are placed so as to capture images of the premises and the visitors, and these images are then digitally altered and transmitted in real time to a screen located nearby.

As Far as In-between, a work shown at Ars Electronica 94, consists of an interactive digital environment in which the spectators are incorporated into the work through their shadows. As well, their images are captured by a camera and projected onto a screen. By increasing the sources of light, Kusch presents worlds with varying ontological and optical densities; he thus reveals our habit of perceiving space as continuous, given the consistent distribution of light and time, and makes us aware that the act of looking depends on context. The spectator's body becomes the link between the created worlds (real and virtual). The internally activated installation plays on reality and illusion, with images concealing one another to create other images. (1)

Kusch has also produced Interactive Computer Installation for Public Space (1997), a work conceived specifically for the Winter Gallery in Vienna. This installation relies on an interplay of images recorded and broadcast in the gallery's interior and exterior spaces. Through the glass door of the entrance, passersby see a screen placed on an easel. The movements they make in front of the door trigger transformations in the space projected and the colours visible on the screen. This image is also a synthesis of the spectators' images captured both outside and inside.

The media environments created by the artist have been presented mainly in Austria, but Kusch also participated in a group exhibition in Turkey in 1995 and in collective projects in Germany. In addition to working on schème with Marie-Claude Poulin, Kusch has collaborated with Ruth Schnell to produce a permanent installation connected to the Internet for the Rhomberg-Bau building in Bregenz, Austria.

Martin Kusch and Marie-Claude Poulin, visual artist and dancer respectively, met at the workshop Körper.technik/, which brought together 24 artists from the worlds of dance, performance, sound arts and visual arts to discuss creation and collaboration. Organized by London's Shinkansen and the ITI Theater der Welt de Berlin and presented in June 1999 in Berlin, the month-long workshop set out to examine the links between live performance and digital technologies while encouraging the contribution of several creators to the same work. In the spirit of investigating possible exchanges between the different forms of artistic experience, Kusch and Poulin then started to work together in their own company, kondition pluriel.

Martin Kusch and Marie-Claude Poulin, artists whose conceptual concerns have a natural affinity, are both keenly interested in seeing the body interact with light and confront images that are revealed or concealed as the work unfolds. Together, the two has examined the potential of such interplay through their production schème .

Catherine Mussely © 2001 FDL

(1) Peter Weibel, "As Far as In-between: Martin Kusch: Absence and Transparency," in Ars Electronica Festival 94: Intelligente Ambiente: Intelligent Environment (Vienna: PVS Verleger, 1994): 79.