an essay by Nadezhda Korotkina in the book On the Altered Behavior of Sunlight, design-studio Collection, Minsk, 2002, pp.5-10

 

LANDSCAPE REVERSED

 

 

According to medical science, repeating zigzag lines across a stationary grid is still the most accurate representation of the motion of the human mind. These lines, sometimes rhythmic and sometimes chaotic, are meant to chart the active pulsation of human consciousness within a tightly shut cranium. Agnostic futility and absence of any individual and exciting images in the electronic data suggest an idea that there is a need for a certain alternative practice, which would allow to look deeper into consciousness without any damage to health. As a rule, the major obstacle faced by a creative individual who seeks to discover such imagery is his own cognition, which forces him to interpret objective reality through a rigid aesthetic prism. What may turn out to be a painful search for a convincing image takes him even further away from spontaneous, intuitive self-statement.

 

Yet Igor Savchenko has managed to complete this paradoxical quest by creating the illusion that he has reproduced pictures of the world without the usual intermediaries of personal viewpoint or traditional indoctrination. His landscape of mystifications is ascetic; in fact it denies itself (and therefore requires accompanying verbal commentary). His images evoke an indifferent fatalism, an agnostic futility that allows the viewer to choose reactions based on his own dominant aesthetic. They inevitably invoke within the viewer emotional experiences that range from calmness to agitation‹if they were used as a psychological test they could result in unexpected discoveries in subtle areas of human personality.

 

With the persistence of a researcher, the artist runs numerous experiments. He studies the physical interference into spontaneous nature of the photo process (consciousness), carefully fixating every scratch, which penetrates into the unconscious. He admits the inherent vagueness of observed phenomena yet meticulously and objectively records these ephemera. Like a captain on a shipwreck, he, despite the disasters of everyday life, pedantically records every trivial detail in his logbook. He pays careful, sensitive attention to barely identifiable flickers in the landscape of his consciousness and foresees shapes that have yet to be born.

 

Although these shapes are still hidden from human eyes, every cell of Savchenko’s brain is impregnated with anticipation of their imminent appearance. He will bring them into being through the photographic process, a task by definition impossible without light. Still, it seems that he is more interested in the quality of light that destroys a photographic image rather than the quality of light that creates it. Savchenko’s landscapes are not capable of reflecting sunlight, because it penetrates their space too unexpectedly. That is, light is inimical to the photo image. In this role, light, like a natural cataclysm, is extreme and antagonistic to the mundane, trivial aspects of existence. This conflict imparts to the image new esoteric aesthetic qualities, which might be impermeable for the uninitiated or unprepared viewer. Evidently, this duality of light is the essence of Savechenko’s photo-mystification.

 

Savchenko conducted such experiments on his own brain as “A Speculative Vision of the Picture That Can Be Any Moment Revealed by the Passing Sunlight”, “The Picture, Still Retained in the Mind After the Sunlight Storm Has Blown Over”. Their results are in truth no more than fixed images of the work of his consciousness, brought into form by a whole range of photographic processes: reaction to light irritants (splashes of sunlight), reaction to mechanical irritants (scratches), premonitions or expectations (of events).

 

Savchenko’s most important discovery is the link between the brain and film, a latent identity that encompasses both tissue and media. He has turned film into a sensitive tool, a device that records, preserves and reproduces the reverse side of the refined landscape of his brain. This invention of the artist could be very useful. Scientifically, it could have important repercussions in the study of human psychology because it reveals an underlying neurological process, known to everyone but previously invisible. In the terminology of physics, it suggests a new quantity – the speed with which cerebrum fixates imperceptible moments of light. Correlation of quantity of light and speed of the brain’s work determine the nature of an image – from barely perceptible splashes of light to intimately detailed landscapes. Geographically, it reveals new type of landscape, one without territorial affiliation and natural-climatic dependence.

 

These landscapes of the artist’s mind and hands are not permanently existing physical surfaces. They reveal themselves only under auspicious circumstances, only to those viewers who are able to embody their own version of Savchenko’s artistic paradox: the ability to both release prior cognitive aesthetics and to embrace the photo-mystification of these inverted landscapes.

 

 

Nadezhda Korotkina

Contemporary Art Museum

Minsk, June ­ July 2001