25/2 - 21/3 1998
QUEEN OLGAS 108 / 295-170
TU-SU 10.00 - 14.00, 18.00 - 21.00

"The man with the camera is a human being, meaning that not only is he in the specific situation, he is also reflected in and facing it" (Vilem Flusser).

The element of self-reflection is undoubtedly among the characteristics of art photography today. After all the strict, to some extent singular and self-consciously 'important' works inspired by a programmatic idea in the realm of photographic creation, it is only natural that today we should be seeing the appearance of a tendency to bring greater sensitivity to the application of such self- reflection in the photographic medium of expression, not using it as a single artistic objective and allowing it to act from a distance with the human factor much more consciously in mind. In his series of photographs, Markus Bless strives to handle these reflections with the same delicate manner in which he uses photography in general –that is, in the sense of a visual exploration centering on the human world-view. The recording in photographic form of an image, or part of an image, of the world anticipates, above all, our ability to know the basic structures of the image and presupposes that we possess conscious experience of classifying in categories the images we see, as everyone does thousands of times a day.
This fundamental visual consideration leads automatically to the creation of photographic works in serial form. The shared conceptual subject-matter of each individual image - here the theme is Doors - is a parenthesis which, while unifying all the separate images, also makes us more acutely aware of the differences between them; in fact, in most cases it awakens this awareness. Precisely this tension between the shared basic structures that unite the images and the establishment of individual boundaries for each of them is what constitutes man's primary visual experience in the environment around him. Order is introduced through the confidence caused by repetition of the familiar. Singularity, condensation and extrapolation - that is, art - can only be identified by means of boundaries and with distancing from that order. Consequently, each experience of the multiple levels of the isolated visual event is linked to the corresponding thematic sequence of similar events.

In the particular case of Doors as a subject for images, the multiple levels are conveyed in a manner which is absolutely unique. A door provides us with the basic ability to cross an architectural dividing line. Doors intervene between different areas, and often between different worlds.
The Italian artist and theoretician Leon Battista Alberti engaged in a detailed comparison of paintings which showed windows. Here, too, the characteristics of the subject include opening, a view on another world which is different, set at a distance and yet close at hand. This is also true of doors, but, unlike windows, they are more solid barriers to vision and thus create a greater distance - one which, of course, is typical of the contemporary manner of approaching images.
Although we are bombarded with images by the mass media, it is rare for an image to touch us immediately and retain its effect over a long period of time. The abundance of data and the constantly increasing rapidity of our contacts lead to ever-stronger efforts to create boundaries: the doors are more and more tightly closed, the movements behind them are rejected - and, similarly, so are the images of the space surrounding us, which we attempt to select with great accuracy in order to keep them at a distance.

In that sense, the photographs by Markus Bless on the theme of Doors transform themselves into doors - and, indeed, as if in a parable, the doors themselves become visual art-works. There are doors which are open, closed or ajar, doors which shut things firmly out, doors from public spaces bearing traces of violence, doors which invite and doors which repel.
Innate in all the doors, however - as in every image made by man - is a reminder of what lies behind them and, above all, of the fact that the doors are capable of opening.

Peter Assmann

Born in Seewalchen, Austria, Markus Bless spent three years studying classical guitar. In 1991 he enrolled in the Linz University of Art and Industrial Design, for a master class in visual media design. This was followed by studies at the Bruchner conservatory in Linz (1995): music and media technology studies with Adelhard Roidinger and Gerald Wolf, and algorhythmic composition with Karlheinz Essl. Bless has attended photo workshops with Walter Mirtl and Sabine Bitter, at the FLUSS Photoinitiative in Wolkersdorf, near Vienna, and with Verena von Gagern at the Salzburg College, as well as workshops on audio design and granular synthesis with Ludger Brummer (June 1996) and Andreas Weixler (October 1996), at the Archimedia Institut, Linz.
A number of his photographic works have been purchased by the State of Upper Austria. His electro-acoustic composition entitled The Door / Entrance to the image was published on CD in 1997 (GEM 9701) by the Austrian Society for Electro-acoustic Music (GEM).