Scholarly article on topic 'Re-imagining painting in digital fiction time, colour, and space in recent experimental moving images'

Re-imagining painting in digital fiction time, colour, and space in recent experimental moving images Academic research paper on "Media and communications"

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Procedia Computer Science
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{"Abstract surrealism" / Animation / "Contemporary painting" / "Cinematic montage" / "Digital art" / "Experimental film" / "Moving image" / "New media art" / "The uncanny"}

Abstract of research paper on Media and communications, author of scientific article — Vinci M. Weng

Abstract In my experience in digital practice, the ‘artist animation’ is fundamentally related to photography and painting, which find a continuous surface, having a sense of ‘time’, in the images in fictional motion. This paper focuses on my creative methodologies of ‘time-based paintings’, associated with my current solo show entitled–Any-Space-Whatever (2010); it presents my selected works (2007 ∼ 2009). My practice deals with electronic media that raises a number of surreal issues as well as suggestive sign systems in the immersive virtual space. I combine three similar visual styles that straddle the modernity of painting and photography and the advanced technology of animated images, into a body of work usingcomputer animation and cinematography. The works are constantly displayed on several LCD monitors, thereby allowing the viewer to perceive them as two-dimensional paintings. Following several discussions, I investigate the motion picture of strange beauty. This suggests ‘romance’ in the fictional space, evoking the uncanny and the sublime. The root of the romance involves various linear pleasures in modern Chinese cursive calligraphy. This thought is extended to the cyberspace, which involves cinematic structure–a visual interaction between ‘psychological’ space and ‘physical’ dimension. I discuss another aspect of the digital montage, the characteristics of colour in time. The colours of time emphasise structural forms–the ‘contents’ of the work. I digitally create a hybrid of fictional landscape between the real and the fake using the perception of montage. Furthermore, the aura is a critical factor while viewing a relationship from animated images to pictorial colours. The idea is to seek various ‘realities’ in the virtual world. For developing new techniques and ideas, I searched for a digital process enablinga painterly expression of a psychological experience of vision. The ‘lyrical abstraction’ in the work acts as a kaleidoscopic visual language, drawing a very surrealistic approach. Finally, I explore the ‘lyric’ sense underlining the space of fiction, where in time is a suspendible factor. Through the dramatic space, an automatic quality forms a relationship and a differentiation between two-dimensional images and three-dimensional objects simultaneously. Thus, the audience mentally participates within the moving-image world.

Academic research paper on topic "Re-imagining painting in digital fiction time, colour, and space in recent experimental moving images"

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Procedía Computer Science 3 (2011) 706-713

Procedía Computer Science

www.elsevier.com/locate/procedia

WCIT-2010

Re-imagining painting in digital fiction time, colour, and space in recentexperimental moving images

Vinci M. Wenga *

"Assistant Professor, Department of Art and Design, Yuan Ze University 135, Yuandong Rd., Jhongli City, Taoyuan 32003, Taiwan

Abstract

In my experience in digital practice, the 'artist animation'is fundamentally related to photography and painting, whichfind acontinuous surface,havinga sense of 'time', in the images in fictional motion. This paper focuses on my creative methodologies of 'time-based paintings', associated with my current solo show entitled - Any-Space-Whatever (2010); it presents my selected works (2007~2009). My practice deals with electronic media that raises a number of surreal issues as well as suggestive sign systems in the immersive virtual space. I combine three similar visual styles that straddle the modernity of painting and photography and the advancedtechnology of animated images, into a body of work usingcomputer animation and cinematography. The works are constantly displayed on several LCD monitors, thereby allowing the viewer to perceive them as two-dimensional paintings. Following several discussions, I investigate the motion picture of strange beauty. This suggests 'romance' in the fictional space, evoking the uncanny and the sublime. The root of the romance involves various linear pleasures in modern Chinese cursive calligraphy. This thought is extended to the cyberspace, which involves cinematic structure - a visual interaction between 'psychological' space and 'physical' dimension. I discuss another aspect of the digital montage, the characteristics of colour in time. The colours of time emphasise structural forms - the 'contents' of the work. I digitally create a hybrid of fictional landscape between the real and the fake using the perception of montage. Furthermore, the aura is a critical factor while viewing a relationship from animated images to pictorial colours. The idea is to seek various 'realities' in the virtual world. For developing new techniques and ideas, I searched for a digital process enablinga painterly expression of a psychological experience of vision. The 'lyrical abstraction' in the work acts as a kaleidoscopic visual language, drawing a very surrealistic approach. Finally, I explore the 'lyric' sense underlining the space of fiction, wherein time is a suspendible factor. Through the dramatic space, an automatic qualityforms a relationship and a differentiation betweentwo-dimensional images and three-dimensional objects simultaneously. Thus,the audience mentally participates within the moving-image world. © 2010 Published by Elsevier Ltd. Selection and/or peer-review under responsibility of the Guest Editor.

Keywords:Abstract Surrealism; Animation; Contemporary Painting; Cinematic Montage; Digital Art; Experimental Film; Moving Image; New Media Art; The Uncanny.

1. Introduction

Among visual arts, I believe that photography, painting, and animation sharea strange yet rich relationship. My experimental moving imagesare shaped profoundly by contemporary ideas in painting and photography. In my recent practice, I have considered photography and painting to have fundamental relations to the 'artist animation'a. The images in fictional motion present a continuous surface, having a sense of 'time', for painting and photography.

* Vinci M. Weng. Tel.: +886-2-2936-1347; mobile: +886-928-341-674. E-mail address: vinciweng@yahoo.com;

1877-0509 © 2010 Published by Elsevier Ltd. doi:10.1016/j.procs.2010.12.117

The digital-media form offers a pictorial spectacle and cinematography that lends credibility to my creationon the grounds of a 'seeming' reality. As Char Daviesb said that it is not about the technology; it is about using a particular media to explore the ideas and communicate the ideas I want to express. 'It is now possible to create almost any image you can imagine with startling fidelity. As a tool for subconscious imagery it is ideal.'c

This paper aims to explore some of the issues emerging from a fascination with fictional space, colour, and time, which are often experienced as a feeling of a 'spectacle'. I have been working with 'surreal' and 'fictitious' landscapes for many years and have produced some major works in my solo exhibitions. In this paper, I extend these investigations of the uncannyd, ambiguous, and sublime to my work by focusing on the 'time-based paintings' from my current solo exhibition entitled -Any-Space-Whatevere (2010) (Fig. 1.). This show presents the best of my works from the following solos:Romance than Fiction: Sixteen Episodes(2008), Sixteen Colours of Timeg(2009), and Lyricismh(2009). What makes the core visual meaning even more interesting is that across the three shows, the concepts, stillness, slow motion, and soundlessness, have remained significant for each other in the works,not only technically but also aesthetically. Ostensibly, the concept of these works has morphed from painting to photography to digital still and animation (experimental moving image).

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p! u\ A tf.ij i ¡ luí 1 r

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Fig. 1. Views from the Exhibition Any-Space-Whatever (2010)

This practice is influenced by Cavell's automatism^ my approach to recent projects has been significantly inspired by the creative pictorial ideajas I often use 'automatic' methodology while working on my experimental-image process. This process suggests a relationship between an abstract structure and the desired state of subconsciousness;the abstract expression in turn allows me to rediscover Chinese calligraphy.As Harry Cooper mentioned, 'the idea of a self-generating drawing is something of a fiction'k. My current practice deals with theelectronic media that not only raises a number of surreal issues relating to the perception of configuration associated with ambiguous images but also with suggestive sign systems in the immersive virtual space.

This art form presents the relationship between colour, time, and space through a relativelynovelapproach. A surreal hidden order manifests in my work - an emerging borderline between real and virtual dimensions evolves in my moving image, conveying a dark, optical fantasy. I create biomorphic forms and surreal compositions, straddling the modernity of painting and photography and the advanced technology of animated images. In the creation of a

a The term 'artist animation' seeks to differentiate between fine artists working in animation and traditional animators, p.84, Re-imagining Animation: The Changing Face of the Moving Image (2008).

b Char Davies (b.1954, Toronto) is an artist who creates artworks using the immersive virtual reality technology. c P.86, Wells & Hardstaff, Re-imagining Animation: The Changing Face of the Moving Image (2008). d Freud's essay 'Das Unheimliche' (1919).

e This exhibition was held at the CYCU Art Centre in Taiwan (05/10 ~ 05/31, 2010).

f It was organized at the Art Site of the Chiayi Railway Warehouse Gallery in Taiwan (03/08 ~ 03/30, 2008). g It was undertaken at the Taipei County Government's Arts Gallery in Taiwan (04/30 ~ 05/17, 2009). h It was held at Safulak Art Village's Gallery in Taiwan (06/06 ~ 06/28, 2009).

i Stanley Cavell's (b.1926, USA) notion of automatism suggests an automatic creativity with hidden logic. j Romance than Fiction: sixteen episodes (2008), Sixteen Colours of Time (2009), and Lyricism (2009). k 'Marden Attendanta review by Harry Cooper, p.12, Brice Marden (2001).

'manipulated moving image'1, I combine these three similar visual styles into a body of work using computeranimation and cinematography. The works are set in the HD mode (1920*1080p) and constantly screened through several sets of LCD widescreen flat-panel monitors. Thisconcept of display allows the viewer to perceive the works as two-dimensional paintings.

2. Romantic Hybrid

My recent work in animation is intangible and yet, psychologically real while also incorporating my 'fictional landscapes'. These 'scenes' create a romantic kingdom, a pictorial world that features a strange variety of two/three-dimensional imaginations. Through the uses of pictorial psychology, the works (Fig. 2.) in Romance than Fiction (2008) involve 'episodic' concepts, which address questions on: strangeness, beauty, familiarity, unfamiliarity, darkness, déjà vu, silence, solitude, and ambiguity. They represent a motion picture of strange beauty - a sense of colour in time - a beauty that evokes the feelings of being 'emotional' or 'sophisticated' in some audiences. These emotions suggest 'romance' in the fictional space, and evoke the uncanny and the sublime. The recent pieces portray abstract linear objects experiencing their innermost emotions. The meaning of 'romance' here stems from pictorial sublimes and my aesthetic experiences. This type of romance connotes the contemporary beauty of romance itself. This particular style of beauty is a characteristic of the animation. The contemporary sublime implies infinite space, which the audience could fall into. The sense that something familiar has turned ambiguous and unpredictable extends to the meanings of the moving image.

Fig. 2. Stills from the Works in the Exhibition Romance than Fiction (2008), Moving Image, Colour, DVD, 9:16, 2007~2008

The root of romance involves various linear pleasures in modern Chinese cursive calligraphy. These works are clearly involved with the thoughts of limitlessness and simplicity. The simplicity reflects Chinese calligraphic spirituality with a void and concrete correlation, which conceptualises two-space thinking: figure and ground. 'The space of the image now has a figural relationship to its viewer; blankness has invisibly changed into a kind of space.'m The Surrealistic idea stimulates a wide variety of issues in cinema and montage that are revealed through different ways in the work. Abstract thinking is visually translated into something strange and rich, which responds to the aesthetic explorations of cursive-running marks. Spirituality can tend to entail mysticism, mediation, and forthe insides of things. The works present ambiguous shapes in movement, fading away, and floating behind the background;theseshapes arouse thoughts on aspects such asbirth, uprising, mud, chaos, breath, congealment, rigour,

l The phrase 'manipulated moving image' has been posited as a definition of current animation practice, challenging the conventional notion of frame-by-frame animated film, p.85, Re-Imagining Animation - The Changing Face of the Moving Image (2008).

m P.109, Gilbert-Rolfe, Beauty and the Contemporary Sublime (1999).

sinking, sediment, clarity, movement, energy, rhythm, vigour, emptiness, and deathto the mind. Each of the sixteen meanings is presented in theatrical scenes (episodes). The biomorphic-mark objects are morphed into different scenes in the work; they are the function of mythical metamorphosis, the manner by which a shape acts as a means of communication for spiritual experience. This spirituality reminds me of theinterpretation of the uncanny qualities of colour, configuration, and space. Indeed, it can be perceived that the uncanny suggests that it is an exploration of darkness. Thisis reminiscent of a formulation from Paul de Man: 'To make the invisible visible is uncanny'.11 The moving image evokes the uncanny quality of running marks moving about in the dark. Through the enigmatic mixture of incident shapes, the dynamic interplay becomes a significant medium between the figure and the ground. Undoubtedly, the work indicates the connection with spatial ideas of cursive-running calligraphy; I translate my own spiritual quest into absorbing and meditative reflections through the work.

I believethat contemporary romance gives rise to pictorial effect that resembles a surreal CinemaScope. The Surrealistic thinking is extended in the cyberspace, which involves cinematic structure - a visual interaction between 'psychological' space and 'physical' dimension. Regarding the Surrealists,Andre Breton said, 'theyhave attempted to present interior reality and exterior reality as two elements in process of unification, of finally becoming one'o. The Surrealists create both reality and imagination in the same visual space; this attitude is also presented in most Chinese-character compositions.In a sense, time-based painting would entail tracing many concepts in a two/three-dimensional world. The experimental colour of time, once exposed, develops a relation with forms and spaces; it implies a new configuration of aesthetics. The moving lights and fading colours transport us to the world that Gilles Deleuze mentioned as the construction of 'any-space-whatever'p. This means that a space of shadows full of darkness and light shades should be constructed, so as to make the space seem rather unlimited,therebyextending an uncanny infinity determining the virtual conjunctions of abstract objects and surreal scenes. The passage from one form to another in the dramatic scene is a transformation of space. This concept reveals ideas of montage, which correspond to the hybrids of time and space. The digital hybrids are the inklings of beauty that have developed into a sense of visual experiment with our emotions.

3. Colour-Time Montage

For the moving images (Fig. 3.) in Sixteen Colours of Time (2009), colour, to whatever degree it is achieved, is derived from the simplicity of shape, light, and shadow in the instances of action. Another aspect on the structure of the montage is the characteristic of colour in time, to cover what the work makes it cover. The colours of time emphasise the structural forms - the 'contents' of the work, inviting the audience to consider, and hopefully rediscover beauty in the work. Nevertheless, my work is not only a private retreat but also a means by which the viewer creates a mentalboundary that emphasises the essential structure in both still and slow motion images. Bill Viola (1989) proclaimed that 'The most important place where my work exists is not in the museum gallery, or in the screening room, or on the television, and not even on the video screen itself, but in the mind of the viewer who has seen it'q. My work, in this sense, lives in the consciousness of whoever observes it.

n P.108, Royle, The Uncanny (2003). o P.49, Breton, What is Surrealism? (1974). p P.111, Deleuze, Cinema 1: the movement image (2002). q P.101, Townsend, The Art of Bill Viola (2004).

Fig. 3. Stills from the Works in the Exhibition Sixteen Colours of Time (2009), Moving Image, Colour, DVD, 16:9, 2008~2009

The two-dimensionality of the painterly picture plane, however, posed an insurmountable limitation. Because of the limit, I have been gradually developing ideas, which constantly lead me tofurther consider the invented space with regard to the concept of montage in digital computers. The fictitious impression in this case turns the shapes into somethinglikea 'sculpture'. The backdrop in the moving image represents a sense of harmony, balance, and logic. This concept, wherein the ground comprises linear marks- marks of some kind-has piqued my interest. The production is based on a digital-image layering process that reveals a sense of animated linear image as the result of the background.

The sight of sixteen moving images, unavoidably position the audience in a complex relationship between colour and time. Thisinvolves psychological time that has no unit of measurement;besidesthe sense of time expresses the implications of colour. With this notion, I digitally created a hybrid fictional landscape that lies between the real and the fake using the perception of the montage. As important sources of perception, I randomly collected images and video clips from computer-rendered graphics, photographs, and paintings. I progressively transformed the collected visual information into surrealistic images as a crucial methodology in the production. The works are based on abstract feelings of slow motion;they urge us to examine both the idea of colour in time and the relationship betweena moving image anda painting. Ibelieve that the appeal of works lies not only in their sense of aura but also in theirperception as a phenomenon of 'other nature and/or second nature'1". This is, in a way, a particular visual sense that differs from our ordinary aesthetic experience.

For exploringthe relationship between animated images and pictorial colours, their aura is a critical factor. The notion involves seeking various 'realities' in the virtual world. What seems clear in the concept of the exhibition is that the animation reveals long-time visual interactions of stillness, movement, swiftness, backward motion, and slowness between the viewer and the work. The work is composed by the melodies of light and tensions of shadow, in which the viewer is subconsciously able to discover qualities of the images in movement. It is important to recognise that this idea's originliesinmy being a painter, specifically an abstract-surrealism painter. The entire sense of colour in the moving image stems from painting and what the colours can express. The works are not only exposed diverse significances in between fantasy, aura, and reality but also experienced as being enveloped in a subjective embodied experience. My purpose behind creating these works is to propose an alternative painterly medium and to utilize photography, animation, and cinematography through a strategic development; evidently, they are a medium of ultimate reality within modernity.

For developing new techniques and ideas, I search for a digital process that enables me to realizea painterly expressionof a psychological experience of vision. The colours of a moving image can be perceived as a kind of sentimental journey, which is an imagination of fictional reality. However, the process not only involves the colouration leading the structures of non-linear time but also constructs the entire scene with fascinating effects of light, shade, smoke, and texture. These elements, once exposed, in the scene develop an interesting relation with time that involves what can be repeatable. In this case, the connection between different shots should be considered as a montage of any sense. The colours in the separate sections of images and shots create a series of 'psychological' spaces for the work. The meditations of the observation characterise new modes of visual thinking and developing thought.

r Here, I describe the aural phenomenon as an invented nature that is apart from the sense of our ordinary nature.

4. Abstract Lyricism

In fact,what I consider essential in the lyrical abstraction of the moving image is that the incident/running shapes could act as a critical visual language, which is produced by the manner of Cavell's automatism. The animations (Fig. 4.) in Lyricism (2009) are separately screened on eight sets of 32" LCD flat panelsusing colour systems that include red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, purple, and grey. The 'kaleidoscope-like' visual language can be presented in aesthetic, metaphorical, and passional forms, or can even play between these different forms. From its essential relation with the language of the motion picture, the abstraction draws a very surrealistic form. 'Darkness and the struggle of the spirit, white and the alternative of the spirit are the first two procedures by which space becomes any-space-whatever and is raised to the spiritual power of the luminous.'s In the images of my work, the dark and bright colours play the role of lyrical spaces. The atmospheric abstraction pervades all the others;the movement-colour, which is a passage from one tone to another brings forthan unlimited virtual world. The movement-colour seems to belong to the cinematic language. 'Nevertheless, in our view, the colour-image of the cinema seems to be defined by another characteristic, one which it shares with painting, but provides a different range and function.'1 The coloured image in the work does not refer to a particular meaning of object, but it is the lyrical power that explores the expressions of freedom and mutation.

Fig. 4. Stills from the Works in the Exhibition Lyricism (2009), Moving Image, Colour, DVD, 16:9, 2008~2009

It appears that the colour-image-scene exhibits a new nature of lyricism here. This new nature reconstructs the perception of space. The moving image transports the audience's feelings that convey a supernatural journey. The colour, image, and scene flow together into a boundary. The extreme slowness of the colour-image movements facilitates the development of a pictorial sense of space and time by the audience to develop any pictorial sense of space and time. The 'lyric' sense underlines the space of fiction, in which time is as a suspendible factor. 'Time, in a sense, was being manipulated by a human invention.'u It seems as though everything willremain thesameperpetually. Through the creation of dramatic tension, the manner of automatismcreates a visual relationship and the differentiation between atwo-dimensional image and a three-dimensional objectv simultaneously. These two elements enable me to gradually approach the motion picture as a painting. In terms of this notion, the series of the work in Lyricism can be visually read as a sentimental metamorphosis.

The quality of the electronic image gives rise to amazing combinations of fiction and reality. The body of work attempts to communicate a subjective experience of the internal self and the external world. In my experience of constructing the virtual environment, the immersive sublime offers a unique means of expressing this particular sensibility. This is primarily because of the 'lyric' sublime enveloping the spatiality; the spatiality seemingly allows the audience to enter it. As the stillness of painting extends into the flow of time, the digital technology associated with the immersive concept extends beyond the two-dimensionality of the painting. The audience thus becomes a

s P.117, Deleuze, Cinema 1: the movement image (2002). t P.118, Deleuze, Cinema 1: the movement image (2002). u P.15, Rush, Video Art (2007).

v I digitally manipulate 2-D image that becomes as 3 -D model in the computer application.

mental participant within the moving-image world. In the work, the perceptual boundary may be experienced as a permeable passage between colour, time, and space.

5. Conclusion

I aim to recreate a sense of ambiguous and fictitious landscape that is immensely 'spectacular', particularly affected by Surrealism and modern Chinese cursive-running calligraphy. As a unique field, my experimental moving image attempts to define a pictorial boundary through cinematic perception. The play of images encourages the audience to think and sense in a painterly manner. This allows me to approach the medium of virtual scenery as a painter, seeking a more effective means of communicating my sensibility of the 'emotional' world. I have utilised artistic technologies to createa moving image that would liberate me from the limitations of the two-dimensional still painting. The possibilities of using technology to create on the 'other side' of the picture plane evolve a conceptual time-based painting, wherein I would psychologically transport the viewer to the space of a'romantic hybrid'.

I realize the potential of the medium for fulfilling my purposes;many of the key characteristics areassociated with my work, such as immersive fascination in the all-surrounding space of colour and time and the cinematic quality of space-time transformation;they are thus grounded in my own experience of vision. The technology of my work is embedded in the specific media and aesthetics of a 'colour-time montage', with the elements of shape, light, and shadow, as well as 'abstract lyricism' in still and slow motion images. I employ the sophisticated knowledge of the developing technology of moving images to deconstruct the two-dimensionality of a painting. My recent work continues to seek the conception and inspiration for a spatial relationship between the familiar and the unfamiliar, as well as reality and imagination.

I was particularly intrigued by the fact that from the entire field of the works, I am inspired to create images that descend from the running marks to the biomorphic sublime. With a keen interest in the transformative foreground and background, I explore the way in which coloured images shed light and the dark backdrop removes it. The sequences in the moving image are slow and meditative, and the audienceneedsto observe them over a period in order to understand them. The works, however, are created by referring to calligraphic art, the uncanny theory and other intellectual ideas, However, I transform these sources so that they are hidden from view and are transformed into visual imagery that offers the viewer with a 'psychological' and 'physical' experience.

An 'aural' reading of the time-based image may proceed further, implying that the work represents a phenomenon of 'second' and/or 'other' nature. In contrast, my central concerns provoke the possibilities of reality in the virtual world that the phenomenon seeks to articulate. At the same time, the work emerges from a very different abstraction by the creative method of the 'automatism'. The holistic vision is contiguous with cinematic ambience, which raises the theatrical space of the juxtaposition of two-dimensional images and three-dimensional objects. This represents the way in which I play on the idea of two-space thinking in a dark-closed world, allowing us to experience different types of space and biomorphic shapes in a way we are normally unaccustomed to. In the context, the term 'spectacle' evokes the 'uncanny' and the 'sublime' that associate with colour, time, and space in the virtual boundary. They project my dream-like desires, which are emotionally intangible, and the moving image lends form to these desires. A sense of horror and the joys of desire are evoked when viewing these works are viewed. It is, however, up to the spectator to drift amidst the photograph, painting, and animation.

References

1. P. Wells & J. Hardstaff, Re-Imagining Animation - The Changing Face of the Moving Image (AVA Academia 2008).

2. J. Gilbert-Rolfe, Beauty and the Contemporary Sublime (School of Visual Arts, New York 1999).

3. N. Royle, The Uncanny (Manchester University Press 2003).

4. A. Breton, What is Surrealism? (Haskell House Publishers 1974).

5. G. Deleuze, Cinema 1: the movement image (The Athlone Press, London 2002).

6. C. Townsend, The Art of Bill Viola (Thames & Hudson 2004).

7.M. Rush, Video Art: revised edition (Thames & Hudson 2007).

8. M. Le Grice, Experimental Cinema in the Digital Age (BFI Publishing 2001).

9.Art World, June/July (2008).

10. Silvershotz: The International Journal of Fine Art Photography (Volume 5 Edition 2, 2008). 11.I. Blazwick, Cristina Iglesias (Whitechapel Art Gallery, London 2003).

12. Brice Marden (Serpentine Gallery, London 2001).

13. P. Young & P. Duncan, Art Cinema (TASCHEN 2009).

14. D. Campany, The Cinematic: Documents of Contemporary Art (The MIT Press & Whitechapel London 2007).

15. Frieling & W. Herzogenrath, 40YEARSVIDE0ART. DE-PART 1 (Hatje Cantz 2006).