Fotograf Magazine

Vilém Novák

Them, 15 May – 7 June 2013

What is likely to be the cultural distinction between man and beings composed of cubically, mutually organically, inter-morphing masses? Vilém Novák showed his work, Them/Oni, at the Fotograf Gallery. 

In computer animation done in colourful shades of grey on a stable, horizontal background he lets his creations act out a full-fledged show; and not just of movement or expressive commands, but also characters. I do not know to what degree the video has been created by the human hand and to what extent it has been generated by an algorithm. Due to Novák’s previous work, I would guess however that it was a generated approach. In this case, there is such an assured element expression of movement, a strong gesture of genesis, whose later fate has already been left to the open domain of free will. 

To follow Novák’s soap opera full of mutual confrontations, conflicts, understanding and inner feelings creates an almost immediate mental and emotional participation. It’s the same as the mesmerising action on a film screen filled with real actors. Here too we become part of specific parameters of a configured existence. Cultural distinction subsides due to the human expression of grey blocks. 

We get lost. Are we at the Fotograf Gallery or in a Pixar film? And is there a difference between the two? Should there be? I think that in art the time has come for animated homunculi; be they anthromorphic, zoomorphic or geometric. Mathias Poledna’s three-minute animation of a singing donkey at the 54th Venice Biennale was great. However, generated, angular forms closer rather to trons and similar to the early computer treats of the 1980s are more successful in transferring life energy to the regular works of the worn out gallery visitor. Long live figurines in art and their happy stories. 

Jan Kratochvíl