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Lia Petridis Maiello

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Swiss Video-Artist Alexander Hahn's Digital Moments of Silence

Posted: 09/19/2012 5:29 pm

A never-ending, seemingly inescapable flood of digitized images might form the average consciousness today. Depending on the individual, their history, social factors, and consumption habits, this contemporary reality can be as inspiring as it can be overwhelming and counterproductive. An inflation of forms of expression and media are easy enough to handle, but maintain few secrets, with very little privacy and hardly any intimacy.

Swiss video artist Alexander Hahn captures digital moments of silence. He has been doing so successfully since the late 1970s. Snapshots of life newly arranged in new contexts become snapshots of an altered reality and sometimes a reflection of the subconscious. His latest exhibition Cao Chang Di Road On November 24, 2009 I Stood There Waiting at the Digital Media Arts Center Harvestworks in SoHo last weekend consisted of four video installations and provided intense glimpses of intimacy into human existence. Moreover, Hahn does not only come with installations that reflect global modern times and hyper-realities, but also creates the appropriate space that allows their intimate coexistence.

The high definition monitor piece Public Places-Private Strangers-Temporal Attractions shows two women watching a film in a museum. Three same sized monitors installed on a tall, empty wall pronounce different details of this very peaceful, absorbent scene in organic colors, displaying public intimacy and the processing of art through the lens of a secret bystander. Hahn has a trained eye for mundane situations and their transference into the de-codification of life.

The second HD monitor piece ON is a two second loop. It describes modern communication, particularly surrounding a certain isolationist mentality of the urban individual in constant need to define his or her own narrow, limited space in a metropolis such as New York City where consistent stimulus is available. Numerous gadgets like smart phones, with their multiple ways of distracting and even blocking reality from the user, are supporting a strong, supposedly individualistic sense of both environment perception and the perception of the self. Aesthetically very appealing, this black and white piece shows a woman in a classic New York corner bakery having a lively conversation to an invisible counterpart on her cell phone. Again, Hahn acts as the anonymous observer, catching her in this very intimate, yet simultaneously public moment. While she is not talking to an audience and certainly unaware that she will be the center piece of an exhibition in her hometown of New York City, she suddenly turns around and looks straight into the camera: A moment the audience is longing for to establish this inter-human connection that is so often missing in contemporary, urban life.

Hahn's artwork has been constantly driven by a high level of factual sensuality and is a guarantor for continuing quality. An "organically growing" process he describes his method of creation, often dominated by the ongoing frustration to elude himself from his work, to create breathing room and space for growth.

Bio: Alex Hahn, a New York/Zürich-based electronic media artist, received his MFA from the University of Fine Arts, Zürich/CH and is a 1981 fellow in the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program. His videos, installations and computer prints are exhibited worldwide, most recently at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Kunstmuseum Solothurn/CH, the Padiglione d'Arte Contemporanea, Ferrara/IT, and the National Art Museum of China, Beijing/CN. Among his awards are the New York State Council on the Arts Grant, Zurich Work Award, and the Swiss Federal Grant.

For more information, please visit the artist's website: www.alexanderhahn.com

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