Oktober 2016 -Januari 2017
Kings County Hospital

Artist in residence, Beautiful Distress, New York, USA

PAST
April 2016
Discovery Award 2016

‘Blue Hour’ got shortlisted for the LOOP Discovery Award.

29 November 2015 - 24 Januari 2016
Blue Hour

Bradwolff projects, Amsterdam, NL

'Blue Hour' is a collaboration with Merel Karhof

25th of April 2015
award

'Play within a play' has won the 'Honorable Mention Award' in the Experimental Short Competition at Nashville Film Festival (USA)

16 - 25 April 2015
Nashville Film Festival

Nashville, USA

'Play within a play'

21 - 30 December 2014
Donna E Liberta

Associazionne Culturale, Rome, IT

'Eye'

11 - 16 november 2014
Braunschweig International Film Festival

Braunschweig, DE

'Play within a play'

2 november 2014
Museumnacht - CineSonic

EYE, Amsterdam, NL

14 oktober 2014
uitkijk goes short

De UItkijk, Amsterdam, NL

17 July 2014
FEMINA

nternational Women's Film Festival, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

'Play within a play'

29 March - 27 April 2014
Inner space/Outer space

Sign, Groningen, NL

'Inner Space/Outer Space'
Part of tour BNG Workspace project award 2012

11 February 2014
Best of the Fest: korte films van het International Film Festival Rotterdam

EYE, Amsterdam, NL

25 January 2014
Filmfestival rotterdam

Shorts 2014, Filmfestival Rotterdam, NL

22 September - 17 November 2013
KadS 2013

'Inner Space/Outer Space'
Part of tour BNG Workspace project award 2012

17 August 2013
HELD FESTIVAL
27 July 2013
WINNER OF SCREENGRAB NEW MEDIA ARTS AWARD
27 July - 14 August 2013
SCREENGRAB NEW MEDIA ART EXHIBITION

School of Creative Art’s eMerge Gallery, Australia

'Vessel'
Collaboration with Jasper van den Brink

15 February 2013 - 7 April 2013
14th VIDEONALE

Premiere video installation 'Vessel'. 'Vessel' is a collaboration with video artist Jasper van den Brink

2 December 2012 - 20 June 2013
PEOPLE CAN ONLY DEAL WITH FANTASY WHEN THEY ARE READY FOR IT. THE PAVILJOENS 2001-2012

Museum de Paviljoens, Almere

'Eye'

Vessel: The Magic of Things
Anne Berk

The leading role in ‘Vessel’ is played by a ship. No words are spoken in this twenty-minute video loop, the first collaborative project between Yasmijn Karhof (NL) and Jasper van den Brink (NL). Its expressive force lies in the sensuous images, which have been recorded from various angles and are projected onto three screens. Sometimes you see the world from the perspective of the ship, as though the ship were a living being. ‘Vessel’ plays with our imaginative powers and investigates the complexity of our relationship to ostensibly inanimate things.

Synopsis
The opening images of undulating water and a rocking horizon anticipate the sea voyage. The scene then changes to a young man surrounded by an idyllic landscape. A loud thud catches his attention. An orange falls to the ground. Without hesitation, he chases after the fruit as it rolls pell-mell downhill until it reaches a more stable trajectory on the deck of a ship.
It is no coincidence that the young man is a researcher. He looks inquisitively around while we follow his gaze. We identify with him. The ship cleaves the waves but the helm is unmanned. The empty passageways seem to swallow you up. In the marine laboratory, teeming organisms are visible through the lens of a microscope. At the same time you are yourself seen from high in the air, a vantage point which reduces the ship to a bobbing toy and imbues a feeling of insignificance.
The man presses his ear to the hull of the ship. From deep inside the ship, we hear the muffled throbbing of the engines that propel it through the surf. The spinning radar aerial is like an all-seeing eye, scanning the surroundings for points of orientation. But no one is there to interpret the navigational data.
The video loop does not work towards a dénouement, but leads you through the orange peelings back to the start. The spectator is left behind, full of questions. What guides this mysterious ship? Is it a phantom ship like Wagner’s ‘Flying Dutchman’ (1843)?

In See, in See!
In See für ew'ge Zeiten!

To sea! To sea - for all eternity!

Kaleidoscopic synthesis

‘Vessel’ is an intriguing mixture of fantasy and reality. On the one hand, the installation uses three projection screens to create a realistic, practically bodily, experience. The recorded images from the deck create an undulating horizon which heaves so vigorously that it almost makes you seasick.
Yet the film is full of contradictions. The projections sometimes present the same subject from three different angles, for instance when the man is running through the forest. The montage is full of seeming contradictions. One screen shows you the man approaching, while another shows you his back as he retreats from you. Is it the artists’ intention to depict a subjective, dynamic experience of the three-dimensional world?
We move through space. We constantly turn our heads. We perceive the world from multiple angles, as the sum of countless momentary sensations. The Cubists of 100 years ago circled around their subject and projected a synthesis of their impressions of the tangible world onto the picture plane. The same intention is apparent in ‘Vessel’, but it takes place on multiple screens.

Animated objects
‘Vessel’ is however more than a kaleidoscopic view of an object in three-dimensional space. In the film, the viewpoint shifts now and then from that of the man to that of the ship itself. The camera is sometimes mounted on a rotating pulley or a radar antenna. As a result you are sucked into in a whirlpool of images. Suddenly, in a surprising perspective, you see what the ship sees.
Jasper van den Brink has experimented extensively with wireless cameras mounted on moving objects, for example a windmill sail (‘Windmill’, 1996), a bicycle pedal, a fishing float and a bottle (‘Autocam’, 2000, with Harco Haagsma). In ‘Bouncing Balls’ (2005), plastic balls lie on a moveable bridge and come tumbling down in a heart-warming, colourful waterfall as soon as the bridge is raised.
Van den Brink makes you see the world through the eyes of things,  and it has something magic about it. It is the same magic as Yasmijn Karhof performs in her films, by simple interventions on everyday objects. A pair of legs under a sheet turn into mountains. A puff of breath transforms a small heap of sugar into a fuming volcano (‘Sugar’, 2005). The lonesome moon in the night sky turns out to be no more than a lamp mirrored in a cup of coffee (‘Play Within a Play’, 2012). Nothing is what it first seems. Lifeless objects transmute into galaxies. Art is the stuff of dreams.

“You don’t need things to see,
The things need you in order to be seen.” [i]


So wrote the Dutch author and poet K. Schippers, with a nod to Kant. We cannot objectively know the ‘Ding an sich’, the philosopher argued, because our perception is by definition subjective and constrained by our physical capacities. But suppose the thing is looking at you. Suppose a thing is a perceptive being, as ‘Vessel’ suggests. Could it be a phantom, like the ‘Flying Dutchman’ of Wagner’s opera? [ii]
The tale of a ghost ship is very old one and exists in many variations. The legend gained renewed impetus from the true story of Fries Barend Fockesz, who rounded the Cape of Good Hope in record time in 1678. He completed the voyage in three instead of the usual six months, having enjoyed constant wind in his sails. The only explanation could be that he had made a pact with the Devil. As a punishment for his unholy ambition, he was condemned to sail the seas until eternity.
Mariners continued to aver they had seen the ‘Flying Dutchman’, with her ghostly captain at the helm, until well into the 19th century. Who still believes that physical objects can be haunted by a spirit? Ghosts do not exist. In our secularized world, a thing is just a thing, a lifeless object. Or is it?

The power of things
People have always made artifacts to improve their chances of survival. An ape will use a stick to get hold of a banana, but humans go further than that. They shape materials into useful objects that help them satisfy their needs, proceeding from stone hand axes to earthenware bowls, then houses, cars and computers. The number of human artifacts has swollen to such proportions that it has created a new biotope, the urban jungle, within which we struggle to survive. Technical devices not only create new possibilities but also shape our behaviour. Are we still the master of things? Or do things dictate our lives?
Writers, artists and scientists have shed light on our complex relation with things. Georges Perec published a novel in 1978, under the telling title ‘Life. A User Manual’, describing life in a Paris apartment block in terms of the objects found there. In the 1960s, Tingueley (1925-1991) breathed life into his pseudo-machines. Olaf Mooij transforms cars into creatures with a personal life story. In 1992, the artist Yvonne Dröge Wendel [iii] married a cupboard, and two years later she drove her Renault 16 TL to Rome to have it blessed by the Pope (‘La Benedizione della Macchina’, Prix de Rome 1994).
In today’s technological society, scientists too are taking an increasing interest in the role of things. For example the Actor-Network Theory of Bruno Latour and others considers people and objects as of equal standing and gives both an active part in societal processes. Many of our implements serve as an extension of the human body. They amplify our powers and our reach, but they also make us dependant. We cannot get by without them, and we develop an emotional bond with the object. So it does not seem too absurd to propose that a ship can be a living being. Can this be the essence of ‘Vessel’?

Imagination
Besides denoting a large ship or boat, a ‘Vessel’ can be a hollow receptacle for liquids or a blood canal in the body. In the most general sense, a ‘Vessel’ is any physical object which can contain or transport something. In the case of Karhof’s and Van den Brink’s work, it refers in the first instance to the Norwegian research ship on which they travelled the Barents Sea and which is both the location and the binding theme of their film. The ‘Vessel’ is also a metaphor: a container for our interpretations and a projection screen for our fantasies. ‘Vessel’ invites us to exert our imaginative powers: could it be that we are not looking at the ship, but that the ship is looking at is?

Anne Berk, 2013

 


i Liefdesgedicht (Love Poem), from Een vis zwemt uit zijn taalgebied, Querido, Amsterdam 1976.
ii Wagner composed The Flying Dutchman in Bergen, Norway, the city where Karhof and Van den Brink realized their film.
iii The artist Yvonne Dröge Wendel is currently engaged in a master’s study on Relational Thingness [http://objectresearchlab.ning.com/].
iv Latour, Bruno. Reassembling the Social. An Introduction to Actor–Network Theory [http://books.google.nl/books?id=Pdr6jbCGORsC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q=&f=false], Oxford 2005.

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