In 1998, at a picnic with a friend who had fallen asleep, Andreas Gefeller felt the urge to photograph the scene from above, “as from a satellite”, and he later glued the pictures together to form an overview. The result reminded him both of the composited pictures of space he had seen as a child and David Hockney’s collages.
Wanting to explore place and objects to which he felt an attachment, or ‘had metaphorical value’, he decided to take the compositing strategy one step further by employing the computer to do the stitching. What makes the Kunstakademie pictures so extraordinary is a paradox: the views are both fictive (the human eye could never see the rooms like this), yet real (the artist could take off the roof to prove it!).
In the digital age, it seems that distinctions between categories like ‘conceptual’ and ‘documentary’ are increasingly irrelevant.
Individually, Gefeller’s works are compositions of up to one hundred individual photographs, so seamlessly combined that they appear as straightforward overhead views.
The works shown here are details from the overall piece (almost 4 metres long and composed of thousands of images) which shows an entire floor of the academy. Gefeller likens the individual rooms to the zoom function in Google Earth: it responds to the same human desire to get closer, to unlock secrets, to see through walls.
Text by William A Ewing