Gap and Compression by René Kockelkorn

Nous sommes habitués, presque conditionnés à une certaine distinction ou corrélation entre le réel et imaginaire. Toute notre pensée entretient un jeu dialectique entre ces deux notions.

(We are used to and even conditioned by a certain distinction or correlation between the real and the imaginary. Our thought engages in a dialectical play between these two notions.)

Gilles Deleuze

Encounters with Tilman’s work, it has been pointed out, usually result in an awareness of light and color as the most important components of his artistic practice. While this might be true for his early works, it does not apply to his installation F218B-BXL. It appears to me, that in this case it is more about the reciprocal play between light and shadow: not in the sense of the presence and absence of light, but in the sense of compression and expansion. While light manifests itself in the collapse of the Euclidean space, shadow manifests itself through its construction.

Tilman’s work is set up in a spacious exhibition space with many windows and a high ceiling. The elements in this artistic intervention - a tilted wall, built over nearly the entire length of the existing wall, stacked ’building elements’ in the center of the room (a deconstructed multiple, whose dimensions repeat those of the wall), a monitor for a video presentation as well as two loudspeakers – is of an abundance that diminishes the space. A feeling of density emerges, which is intensified by a ubiquitous pastel green; its effect is one of obstruction.

The whole is embedded in an ambiance of sound and, depending on the time of the day, in an iridescent intensity of light. Johan Vandermaelen’s composition Music for a Green Room is based on outside sounds and silences recorded here during a sunny and a rainy afternoon. The sound frequencies are oriented towards the mass of Tilman’s wall structure; in addition, video images flicker in fast rhythm over the retina. Image and sound, however, occasionally stop abruptly. In these moments the monochrome coloration achieves a soothing effect, though the intervention as a whole resembles a sensual inferno albeit with moments of quietness, silence, and standstill. This reminds one strongly of Gilles Deleuze’s mode of thinking, in which beings, forms, structures and organizations are methods by which an essence, fluid and heterogeneous in nature, is temporarily contracted, trapped, tamed or slowed down to the point where its movement is barely discernable.

Tilman’s installation is essentially to be taken as a constructed reality, which should be translated, in my view, into the segmented unity of the imaginary. The visualization of space, the ordering principles of the numeric encoding appear to obstruct the world for the viewer, but actually Tilman creates new symbolic levels. Vermaelen’s composition works in a similar way. He creates an ’acoustic space’, not reducible to the conventional sense of music or sound, but as a sound space with a comprehensive sensuality, where simultaneity and immediacy are substituted for the succession of cause and effect. Seeing and hearing are given equal rights as sensory perceptions.

In short, this is not merely an art to look at, but a physical and psychical space of experience. It is a world with different rhythms and sounds, a constantly changing atmosphere, and cumulative effects to be experienced. Sound sequences, mathematical perspective construction, the rationalization of space, the number as a principle of order seizing reality - all this faces off against the complex, unregulated inner life of a human being. It is a telescoped conflation of several different levels of experience and consciousness.

René Kockelkorn, 2004

in: TILMAN - F218B-BXL - sound: Johan Vandermaelen
publication with DVD
text in Dutch/English/German/French – translation Guy de Bievre
ISBN 92-990006-1-1 Dépôt légal D/2004/914/1
published by CCNOA Center for Contemporary Non-Objective Art Brussels 2004