• Essay

  • June 30th, 2014 06.30.2014

    Profile of the Artist: Albert Mayr


    Through a re-contextualization of outdated technological media, Viennese artist Albert Mayr invites his viewers into an awareness of the future, albeit one that is at times unpromising. His work emits a kind of coldness that incorporates disheveled printer paper and computer monitors into his compositions. In a musing of both nostalgia and obsolescence, Mayr’s pieces convey the depersonalized effect technological products have had on our existence – be it through photography, sound, or replicas of traditional artistic tools of creation. His painted, wooden video cameras are in this case just as much aesthetically important as the final video piece produced from them.

    The dialectic between old and new technologies in Mayr’s retro-future actively renews the old, and allows the new to be thought through the old – accentuating a kind of continuity between them. This process can be especially noted in Slide City, where the incandescent scene of a skyline returns to us from the future as a reminder of the depersonalization of corporate offices, perhaps overrun by the very technology that has created an existence of bleak impersonality. Mayr has taken the sleeves that hold the slides, organized and photographed them in an urban-like composition, placing them back into the projector to cast the images onto the wall. His explorations of light and reinvented material as a subject create an interchangeable understanding of process, medium, and artwork – all through the scope of technology.

    Mayr’s work can be appropriately understood in the context of Régis Debray’s writing, where the author states, “the art object transmits futurity. The once-revolutionary industrial object, however, once it is withdrawn from circulation, transmits only pastness.”  Where pastness is not only communicated through its out of date materiality, it is also communicated by the obsolescence it has in society. Successfully allowing the viewer to realize our time and place by reflecting on the past, Albert Mayer has taken traditional materials and created traditional tools of artistic expression all the while breathing a contemporary point of view upon them. The outcome is a kind of dystopia brought on by the technological devices that have taken over our everyday world. The utility of these objects displayed are ever-fleeting, just as Mayr detaches himself from the materials that make up his work by taking apart old works to reconstruct new configurations and meanings, altogether extending the capability of media. It is with this underlining impermanence of material significance and existence that perfectly parallels our own regard for the next technologically advance device that will define perhaps for Mayr, his next enigmatic, media-based art piece.