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Appearances in a world of appearances by Cornelia Kleÿboldt

"The sensory impression of colour in humans originates when light of a certain wavelength or mixture of wavelengths falls onto the retina of the eye. Colour is therefore a sensory perception and not a physical characteristic of a body. This sensory perception is activated by "Light that enters the eye and is converted there by specialised sensory cells into a nerve impulse, which for its own part is then transmitted to the brain and which then, in a way not yet quite clarified, enters human consciousness as colour." (Definition of colour according to DIN 5033)

Karina Smigla-Bobinski, she regards herself as a painter. However, she has expanded her range of art utensils, which are traditionally allocated for the use of colour on a painting base. Her "art utensils" can be both colours and light in the form of projected models. Her "painting base" can be a canvas but also the surface of water, a shadow on the wall, or any other projected bodies with reflective properties. Her "painting techniques" and "painting tools" respectively are reflections or projections in which manual interventions or rather operating rules, and especially objects functioning as lenses, take over the transformation of a perceived model into an artistic reality.

As a consequence of her extended understanding of traditional painting, Smigla-Bobinski’s artistic works take place not so much on canvas but more within the framework of spatial installations, utilizing or combining different artistic mediums. Karina Smigla-Bobinski’s artworks can be a matter of space installations or the projected components of a stage setting.

Alongside the application of film or picture projections and object installations, the observer himself can become part of the artistic reality, i.e. the picture, as an active agent or as a participant. At the same time – in addition to his role of observer – he can slip both into the role of the "painting base" and into the role of the "pigment", thereby calling awareness to their active characteristics traditionally perceived as passive.

While the precise appearance of the installations repeatedly and flexibly adapts to the specific circumstances of the production or the field of action, it remains obligated, however, to a fundamental idea and/or perception of the artist.

The artist’s subject is and remains the real, visible world – whether stage-managed or stumbled across. Within conditions, elements and things of the world, moods or emotions seem to be mirrored and contained. Observations, perceptions and momentary circumstances inspire the artist in the expression of her artistic creation.

Karina Smigla-Bobinski is less an inventor than an observer. She works like a variable lens, transforming the observed – registered and condensed by the respective characteristics of the lens – from one into the other. As the same time as being an absorbing lens, she also functions as a “painting base” with transforming characteristics. The artist’s role and self-image are not only visible in the conceptual understanding of the work, but they also emerge as transformers and/or recording and projection lenses in her work itself. They are tangible components contained within her artwork, in particular mirroring and/or reflection, as well as the permeability or rather transparency of matter in the form of properties being able to register a picture of the world like a lens, transform it and pass it on further.

As a transformation artist she abducts her audience. She lets the world see her artistic impressions as mysterious, unexplainable, nocturnal magic theatre, only to baffle them finally with the soberness and simplicity of her basic principles and avenues of approach. Where a passageway into the depths seems apparent in a pit in the floor there is only a monitor, and the supposed space behind it is merely a filmed reality running beneath a glassy surface.

It is as if her pictures were "real pictures" next to or within the so-called "reality", and ultimately this very coexistence lures one towards illusions. Karina Smigla-Bobinski makes the poetically combined, tapered conversions or rather transformations of her observations and inner recordings appear to look like magic.

The "make-believe" of her pictures opens views and perspectives on an artistically transformed reality whose possibilities as enrichment and communication prevail next to the reality of the observer. They project reality as assumedly "alienated" into the area and bring previously unperceived possibilities into play as their representation. It is almost as if an equilibrium between art and reality is created, between an artificial reality and real art with the common denominator being the "appearance", a visibility totally dependent on light.

Again and again the artist uses water as a "lens". The movement of the water represents to her materialised time with which the mirrored object is called to life. Instead of the usual 24 pictures per second, the single pictures mirrored onto the water surface are a way of creating moving pictures and stories. Whereas one person dreams about the city of Atlantis, sunk under water or rubble, or dives in search of it, she turns the germ of life of a new home into a breathable reality as a sheltered water reflection, close enough to seize. Beneath the water surface there opens a seemingly magical, living underworld whose slow movements reveal tracks in which time condenses itself.

The artist dreams dreams and nocturnal truths that withstand the light of day. She creates appearances in a world of appearances. She conjures up her observations, feelings and longings right into the middle of the world, like newly emerging islands that imminently, full of respect for their surroundings and extremely fertile, communicate.

The undertaken manipulations, changes or alienations of perceived realities in their artistic implementation are based on the simplest of means and techniques: movements are slowed down or accelerated, running directions are altered in opposition to the force of gravity, measurements are distorted, enlarged or reduced, the relationship between action and reaction appears reversed. Thus, for example, a drop of water on a glass surface runs, greatly magnified, upwards. The face pictured on it, behind it, barely recognisable due to the extreme enlargement, is grimacing in “slow motion” on the form of the drop. While it is the drop of water that is constantly changing, it looks very much like it is the face that is changing. One has to look very closely to recognise that it is the water as the bearer of the reflected picture that lends the reflected picture breath, growth and life.

The means are very simple; their effect – the enchantment – seems in contrast all the larger.

The possible role swapping of the components of an artistic work and/or “multiple allocations” increases its complexity and thus eludes a definitive analysis. Ultimately, it is also and above all the observer himself who, once conscious of his adopted observation method, will become an important component of the artworks due to the uniqueness of his manner of observation. In discourse there is always just one way to go; in Smigla-Bobinski’s art, however, one finds a mind-boggling diversity of interlaced interpretation methods.

Sometime or other, as an observer face to face with Karina Smigla-Bobinski’s art, one no longer wishes to clarify anything but rather wishes to give oneself over to the fascination and beauty of a seemingly phantom world made of light, which is actually completely real having been transformed and reproduced merely by the properties of a lens. The artworks of Smigla-Bobinski are thus re-translated pictures - reflected or projected back into the habitat of the observer.

Dreams are ultimately nothing other than a form of reality: appearances in a world of appearances.

© Cornelia Kleÿboldt, M.A.

Translation: Rosemary Romanek

Munich, 01.07.2005