Lines Fiction: Surfing the internet, everyday we click on images that link somewhere else. You are an draughtsman using this process as a stylistic method in your work. On your website online, and in exhibitions offline you animate people to click through your digitalized drawings to watch a whole story unfold. How did you develop this idea?
Matthias Reinhold: It began with a travel blog called “chinaclips” which I made during a stay in China in 2005. This had the classical function of informing people at home about what was going on, and at the same time it worked like a scrap book for all the impressions and things which I encountered there. I studied chinese traditional ink painting and very much liked the contrast between this archaic medium and digital technology. The same contradiction between handmade drawings and digital files is a stimulation for my work these days. My interest for visual language also stem from this time in China. It is based on icons that follow some kind of an associative grammar. Maybe the chinese characters with their former iconic origin lead to this fascination. Or it was the feeling of not being able to communicate due to the lack of languange skills. In everyday life it often happened that I ordered a dish in a restaurant by for example drawing a chicken. Traditionally there is a special genre for “bird painting” in China. So chickens could also show up on such pictures but would be considered as a beautiful living animal rather than a potential dish. Thus the appearance of an image in a context very much creates its meaning. This dialogue of images among themselves became the main issue of my project “ikonolog”.
Lines Fiction: Clicking through the ikonolog one can trail away in details of different kinds of worlds and prospects, comparable to watching the Pictorial Atlas of Aby Warburg. All these drawings on paper could be presented in exhibitions, in an installation representing the ikonolog. Do you show all the drawings undiscriminating or do you chose only some of these to be presented to the public?
Matthias Reinhold: Warburg „Mnemosyne-Atlas“ is very important for me, not only in terms of the project title, which refers to iconology. It is an aestetical prototype for me, when I arrange drawings to show them. Regarding the selection, only some of the motifs fit together, for they are in a formal or content based relation. Let´s take the chicken again. Clicking on one of the feathers you could call up a landscape painting. Clicking on another one you would get a “feather ball” – that is how we call the badminton ball in german. A click on the leg would lead to the chicken dish. The tail would lead to a nest with eggs. So the chicken would be surrounded by those partners. They themselves are linked with further motifs. So one develops a kind of cloud around a certain theme, which could be tagged with „ chicken – egg – nest – bird – feather – ball – garden – tree – …“. The one-after-the-other on the screen is transformed to a one-beside-the-other on the gallery wall. But still the viewer can search his or her own path. The main difference in real space is the possibility to zoom in or out by making some steps towards the wall or backwards. I am trying to mimic this procedure on the website. However you cannot compensate the tactile experience of real paper, the grooves of the pencil and the reflections of graphite. That makes it worth to draw and show these images in exhibitions.
Lines Fiction: How do you decide to present your digital work offline? Do your exhibitions also take place without a monitor?
Matthias Reinhold: Quite often the website is integrated in exhibitions as a virtual window or on a desktop device. It should be a situation in which the screen is not an alien element. Sometimes in museum spaces, there are spread out those catalogues bound to the furniture with a string. Maybe websurfing in a gallery space is comparable to flicking through a catalogue. It is simply another kind of viewing, than looking at pictures on the wall. In my opinion, the best place to surf the internet is still at home in a familiar surrounding. The same you could claim for analogue pictures. You get the closest to them if they are embedded in your personal environment, and you see them in your everyday life. In the end an exhibition is an offer and everybody should be able to decide for him or herself, how to get involved with it.
Lines Fiction: You have a facebook page “ikonolog” showing your growing project. How important to you is using the internet for your self-image as an artist?