About the series ‘Time Shift’
by Laurenz Theinert
“Strange” is perhaps the most adequate term to describe the first impression in front of Laurenz Theinert’s “Time Windows”. In front of or on (or in?) a huge gray surface, which makes up about 70 to 90 percent of the picture surface and remains in two-dimensionality, groups of people can be seen as variously sized islands of color. The natural colors seem strangely distorted and alienated. The heads of various ladies are dark green. More precisely, their hair is green. The faces themselves are almost black. The original colors of their respective clothing have also been erased. Instead, the bodies seem to have become “transparent” and show the shop windows behind them like punched-out stencils.
A young man hurrying out of the picture on the left carries the image of a summer-clad mannequin in his groin. Otherwise, the colorful world of consumption – the protagonists are obviously shopaholics loaded down with shopping bags – is really faded out, i.e. hidden behind or under the gray surface.
Here and there an advertising banner protruding from the gray mass, but just as gray as the surroundings, reminds us of the purpose-bound architecture that is not visible. The outlines of some standing persons and especially of trees seem to be “engraved” into the gray surface, making them appear as ghostly beings. Those who do not move seem doomed to perish in the gray mire of the image.
Those who move, in turn, are followed or led by a doppelganger, seeming to stand or walk beside themselves, as it were. Multiple personalities everywhere you look! Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde walk hand in hand. The heads and torsos of some passers-by have a honeycomb pattern. An elderly lady seems to be dragging stones with her. Man has become the container of his environment.
As the many quotation marks and “or” in this text already show, the situation is anything but clear. One suspects the solution of the riddle, but even after its solution, one is by no means less fascinated by the pictures. On the contrary. What may be most surprising is the simple and relatively simple process of making the pictures: The starting point is two digital photographs of one and the same section of reality taken directly one after the other on location. From the second photograph, taken about a third of a second later, a “negative” is produced using an image processing program and then superimposed on the first photograph on the computer. In this way, all parts of the image that have not changed between the two photographs are virtually erased and unite to form a uniform 50 percent black area, i.e. a uniform gray area. The parts of the image that have changed, on the other hand, are visible as a positive and a negative.
Nothing is edited or retouched on the resulting image. It is printed as a pigment print on the finest handmade paper and mounted on aluminum. The result: by superimposing two points in time, Laurenz Theinert makes visible a time continuum, a period of time. The title of the works is well chosen. Theinert’s photographs are indeed “time windows,” impressive visualizations of the unstoppable flow of time that rushes down not only the shopping malls of this world.
Instead of focusing on individual passers-by and thus individualizing the street scenes (as the artist Beat Streuli does, for example), the artist has apparently taken a liking to the social happenings on the street. Laurenz Theinert documents city views without a city. Taken in the heart of Northhampton and other major cities, the images show people meandering through architectural canyons while blending out the architecture. They are architectural photographs without architecture, colorful and aesthetically extremely appealing approximations of the individual speeds of city dwellers that go far beyond Muybridge’s movement studies. A touch of surreality wafts through the image due to the doublings. The spatial arrangements of the color surfaces lying over and within each other, which cannot be precisely named, brings the two-dimensionality and materiality of photography to the viewer’s attention and exposes the supposed “window into reality” as flatware.