Beobachtung der Beobachtung: Unbestimmtheit

© Generali Foundation Collection—Permanent Loan to the Museum der Moderne Salzburg, Photo: Werner Kaligofsky

Peter Weibel

Beobachtung der Beobachtung: Unbestimmtheit, 1973

Closed-circuit video installation 3 video cameras on 3 tripods, 3 video monitors on 3 metal racks, floor marking with black adhesive tape Dimension ground area, approx. 400 cm


Artwork text

Peter Weibel has been hailed as one of the most influential protagonists of media art. This installation, created in 1973, is an experimental setting that turns our perception on its head. It consists of a hexagram, a symbol with a mystical aura, surrounded by surveillance cameras and screens. However we turn and twist ourselves, the screens never show us our faces, only our backs—a sight that is elusive in ordinary life. From selfies to video conferences, we are used to beholding our faces in the mirrors of media. In this instance, however, we watch ourselves trying to see something. We are subjects and objects at once—observers and observed, beholden to the perspective that our bodies determine. Weibel’s installation harnesses technology to implement what the Surrealist René Magritte envisioned with the means of art in his painting La reproduction interdite (1937): a mirror that shows its counterpart as seen from behind rather than en face; a paradoxical mirror that conceals the face and lets us keenly feel the loss of identity precipitated by such effacement. (JT)

Lending history
2005 Munich, DE, Haus der Kunst 2005 Rotterdam, NL, TENT. Platform voor hedendaagse kunst 2005 Zagreb, CRO, Galerija Klovicevi Dvori 2004 Graz, AT, Neue Galerie am Landesmuseum Joanneum 2001 Karlsruhe, DE, Zentrum für Kunst und Medien (ZKM)