Lucid Ambiguity – Figures in Movement
»The works of Nicolas Constantin are subtle and precise compositions. Offering space for considerations on various realms, always avoiding to be merely narrative, illustrative, documentary, abstract, conceptual or importunately fancy. Characterized through a well considered ambiguity, combined with a rigorously lucid composition.« Bataang*, art zine, issue 1, Berlin 2008
»Like [John] Cage [in his Variations V] Constantin charts and fathoms the conditions of media spaces. All too often, such spaces prescribe certain patterns of behavior. In order to achieve the individual freedom of personal movement, these patterns need to be broken up.« Murr, Karl Borromäus about Variations IX in: [ ]
»Nicolas Constantin’s interactive composition investigates formative patterns that emerge in the interplay of humans with the omnipresent media of today. In dance-like fashion, ›Variations IX‹ open up an experimental space to explore both personal freedom and the interdependency of mediated activity.«
»Wie Cage, so lotet Constantin die Bedingungen medialer Räume aus, die dem Menschen allzu oft bestimmte Verhaltensmuster verordnen, die es allerdings aufzubrechen gilt, um zur Freiheit der eigenen Bewegung zu gelangen.«
»Mit ›Variations IX‹ eröffnet Nicolas Constantin einen experimentellen Raum, der den Besucher dazu einlädt, in der Auseinandersetzung mit einem medialen Gegenüber die Autonomie sowie die Abhängigkeit eigener Aktivität – geradezu tänzerisch – zu erkunden.« Murr, Karl Borromäus (2015): Nicolas Constantin, Variations IX. München [Hirmer], S. 34-39
Nicolas Constantin's work could be investigated – described in shortest form – regarding three realms:
Composition, Movement, Ambiguity.
To get first insights in the work and approach of Nicolas Constantin it makes sense to start with the major installation Variations IX (2015), because of its seminal role as an exemplary cumulation of investigations done the decades before – on the other hand, Variations IX opened up problems and paths for further works. Furthermore, Variations IX did unfold the broader relevance regarding the core motif of figures in movement, referring on the one hand to concrete and bodily movement, on the other hand to movements on a conceptual level, finally, investigating particularly the entanglement between various aspects of movement.
An excellent, exemplary, highly recommended text regarding Variations IX you can find here (in German):
Murr, Karl Borromäus (2015): Nicolas Constantin, Variations IX. München [Hirmer], p. 34-39.
February 2018, the approach of Variations IX evolved to the conception of a new stage of work, referring to central aspects of Variations IX, though present from the beginning, now made more obvious through a precise formulation. The wall-triptychs and ball room belong to a specific, elaborated stage of investigation. The work series cover combinations of studies in composition and performance based elements.
The investigations are long-term studies in composition, involving intervention and interaction related to spatial and social environments.
See again below under work in progress.
More elaboratedly epical introduction below, deliberately instead of a trendy and featureless »artist statement«. For further short insights, please skip to vita. Basically, experiencing the works directly comes first, take care.
work in progress and work on view
work on view
Above: stroke / sirens (2017), 5 voice audio-visual composition, 3:41 min., on view at the show »this is so wrong!«, Museumsquartier – Q21 – Electric Avenue, Raum D, Museumsplatz 1, A-1070 Vienna, opening 25th November 2017. Curated by Ehrlich Speiser & González / ephemeral spaces, related as Austrian Embassy to The Wrong, New Digital Art Biennale.
»The Wrong just might be (...) the digital world’s answer to La Biennale di Venezia.« Chris Hampton for The New York Times
work in progress – long-term investigations 2017-2019
nicolas constantin, wall-triptychs (2018), sample # 000.001, Switzerland, Eiger Nordwand, self-portrait
wall-triptychs (2017-2019, long-term studies), participatory, performance based intervention, various media.*
ball room (2017-2019, long-term studies), participatory, performance based work, interventions, various media.*
The wall-triptychs are long-term investigations in composition, involving intervention and interaction related to spatial and social environments: landscapes, urban spaces, online spaces. The series is dealing with problems determined by the basic need and struggle for a sensation of belonging regarding diverse environments. Practical and philosophical investigations examine transformations of experience from immediate to considerably reflexive forms, related to transitions and conjunctions between visual and conceptual systems.
liebenswert (2017, 2018 planning phase), participatory, performance based intervention, various media.
Above: nicolas constantin, dive (self-portrait), munich, 2014
Image on top: nicolas constantin, self-portrait, urbino, 2003
Annotation: Self-portraits are a very rare topic in my work and somehow do collide with my actually very reclusive and more (artistic) research based approach. Nevertheless, in an »about« section self-portraits make sense. Furthermore, the Selbstbildnis from 1992 holds a seminal position regarding particularly the unfolding of the motif »portraiture«, which turned out to be a central, specific aspect of my investigations.
FIGURES IN MOVEMENT
de motu animalium – Über die Bewegung von Lebewesen (Aristoteles)
Why do we move? How do we move? – these are imaginable introductory questions as first steps towards an experience of the work of Nicolas Constantin. Movement (Bewegung) and observation of movement (Beobachtung von Bewegung) regarding an understanding of human action as kind of recurrent motifs, exemplarily exemplified through the interactive audio-visual composition Variations IX.
One crucial aspect of Nicolas Constantin's approach regarding an investigation in (human) movement is founded in the assumption that for an understanding and appreciation of human action it is not enough to ask for reasons, but that it is furthermore necessary to look carefully at the entanglement between reason based action (descriptions and explanations) and (an analysis of) the quality of bodily movement, bodily knowledge and the concrete individual performances regarding an interaction with objects, concepts, media, environment and other persons.
The core motif of the figures in movement refers on the one hand to movements of persons and objects, on the other hand to movements on a conceptual level.
For a most recent work in progress investigating the motif of »figures in movement«, while particularly exemplifying structures correlated to the origins of my approach in the composition of polyphonic music, see ball room, 2017.
Simultaneously to the motif of the »figures in movement«, the motif of portraiture did evolve more and more. In the beginning quite subliminal, after »Variations IX« quite obviously. For the first seminal appearance of the portraiture motif see Selbstbildnis, Paris 1992.
Motifs unfolding – like a fugue
Why do we move? aims at reasons, concepts, words. How do we move? aims at visual and bodily understanding, generally: non-verbal forms of understanding. Particularly the series two figures approaches an entanglement of these two realms of understanding. Quite rigorously examined regarding the formal structure in watch, in girl's game through a blending of philosophical and sensual aspects and more poetically and sensually subversive in stroke. In any case, the initial paths of investigation refuse conceptual reductionism as the motifs unfold an open space for changing constellations of consideration, like a fugue.
Composition matters – »fostered alike by beauty and by fear«
Beyond imaginable guiding themes and perspectives, the works always aim at polyphonic structures and ambiguity, like musical compositions. Composition unfolds entangled structures and changing interconnections. Regarding content exercized radically in the series atlas particularly in the random 9 channel version. Composition matters, no matter if the work is based deliberately on low-res material like in atlas or contains sophisticated technology like Variations IX.
However, compositional and conceptual clarity is just the inviting rabbit-hole for a poetical journey towards arcane and increasingly ambiguos wonderlands – »fostered alike by beauty and by fear« (wordsworth motto for the series separate assignments: braid, re- move make-up, shape).
The work of Nicolas Constantin is based on the approach of composition – grounded on an education in classical guitar and particularly on the early compositions for classical guitar.
In the »various« section I would like to provide some more specific background insights – deliberately beyond officially available biographical informations – particularly about issues related to my investigations in movement.
Above: at ZKM, Karlsruhe, 2011, field trip with my interactive media students, exploring forms of image making, here particularly augmented reality, special tour with Bernd Lintermann, ZKM, Institut für Bildmedien
Investigations in movement – dance encounters
I have been always attracted to dance regarding my investigations in human movement. But I had been most of the time a bit disappointed by the performances I did see, because a great part did not work for me for being too mincing or through comparable constraints. First time I had been really thrilled had been watching Trisha Brown's work at documenta 12, 2007. Second amazing time had been through experiencing Louise Lecavalier's »So Blue«, 2014. I did have the great joy to see this work live and after the performance I had some precious, unforgetable moments with her (see »close encounter« below). Related to this personal encounters is particularly my field trip with my students to move – choreographing you and recently through a book on the work of Simone Forti (Forti, Simone 2014: Thinking with the Body). Particularly her thoughts on Muybridge have been a great inspiration regarding the series separate assignments (braid, re-move make-up, shape), as I have been engaged in studying the work of Muybridge since my early fascination for Francis Bacon.
My first immensely influential encounter with dance as an inspiration has been at documenta 12, experiencing Trisha Brown's accumulation and floor of the forest:
Above: Trisha Brown, Floor of the Forest
Above: Trisha Brown, Accumulation
Above: Works of Trisha Brown and Charlotte Poseneske combined at documenta 12
Above: Charlotte Posenenske, Vierkantrohre
Three different works with decreasing intensities of movement. Regarding Poseneske's work movement is only conceptually present.
Trisha Brown's Accumulation (first part with music, second part without), Trisha Brown's Forest of the Floor, combined with Charlotte Posenenske's Vierkantrohre.
Another very insightful experience has been the field trip with my students to the show move – choreographing you – art and dance since the 1960s, at »Haus der Kunst«, Munich. The precious possibility to interact with works from Bruce Nauman, Simone Forti, William Forsythe and Trisha Brown has been a seminal moment for my work development towards a more performance based approach. Below: Nicolas Constantin performing Trisha Brown's »The Stream« (1970 / 2011):
Another very important experience for the development of my work approach, particularly for the evolvement of the core motif of »figures in movement«, has been my education in free and formal calligraphy. Some remarks on the relationship between my calligraphical investigations and my other work here: triptych / calligraphy. See also below some remarks regarding the relationship between my Aikido practice and calligraphy.
Close encounter – dance, budo, art – moving moments with Louise Lecavalier
Above: Louise Lecavalier and me after a performance of her amazing »So Blue«.
I had been doing some research for a bachelor supervision of a student of mine. The amazing topic of my student has been: Bewegungsformen als Lebensweisen, approaching a comparison of skateboarding, dance and budo. My student asked for my supervision – besides other aspects – because of my Aikido experiences. At that time I saw a post from a friend about Louise Lecavalier's So Blue, and a beautiful coincidence made it possible to see this piece two weeks later. A had never been more fascinated by a dance performance. After the performance, Louise Lecavalier walked by quite a distance away from me, already on her way to the hotel, and her »guide« gave me a sign, not to »disturb« her. Beautifully enough, she did see this »rejection«, and she came to me in a second. We talked so amazingly about movement, budo, about life, standing close together. She had been so incredibly gentle and lovely, even by searching for a nice place for our picture. Seminal moments. I did dream so much about working together with dancers one day. A few months after this encounter, the possibility to participate at a group show came up, and a year later, Variations IX became reality.
Investigations in movement – Iwama Ryu Aikido / Budo
Above: in the dojo with my beloved son. Image taken on the first day of teaching the »Aiki-Minis«. Precious moments.
Iwama Ryu Aikido / Budo and Calligraphy
Aikido / Budo is an eminently important practice for me – an amazing investigation in movement and interaction.
I do practice Aikido since 1999 / since 2012 Iwama Ryu. Teaching the »Aiki-Minis« (3-6 years) since 2014.
Closely linked to my Aikido practice is my education in formal and free calligraphy. Through my calligraphical practice, movement did enter my images in a literally embodied way. For insights on this seminal aspect of my work development, see (link here again) some considerations regarding particularly my three strokes triptych from 1999.
Above: portrait-scan with the japanese sign: »kengaku«, taken from »Werkschau« catalogue of the University of Applied Sciences, Augsburg, 2014, incl. two bachelor supervisions: Bewegungsformen als Lebensweisen from Arthur Aschenbrenner, and spinning timmy (see also University Showcase: supervision spinning timmy from Slawa Gurevich. Many thanks to Slawa for coding this website. With both I did have many conversations about japanese culture. Slawa speaks quite fine japanese and spent his master studies partly in Japan, with Arthur japanese culture has been a topic regarding Budo. As a hint to our investigations and also as a general comment to one crucial aspect of my approach of teaching and of my working practice, I did chose the japanese »kengaku« sign as a »motto« for the »Werkschau« catalogue picture, meaning »learning through observation«.
Nicolas Constantin Romanacci promoviert zum Thema Medien der Erkenntnis – Experimentalsysteme in Wissenschaft und Kunst an der Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen bei Prof. Klaus Sachs-Hombach, Philosophische Fakultät, Institut für Medienwissenschaft. Leitung der Reihe Philosophie und Kunst im H2 – Zentrum für Gegenwartskunst, Augsburg, seit 2015. Philosophie Studium an der LMU München; Schreinerlehre; Studium Gestaltung an der Akademie für Gestaltung im Handwerk, München, Abschlussarbeit: Standleuchten N.R. 1/2. Studium Kommunikationsdesign an der Hochschule Augsburg, Fakultät für Gestaltung und an der ISIA Urbino, Italien (Anmerkungen zu Zusammenhängen zwischen der Ausbildung in freier und formaler Kalligrafie und anderen Arbeiten hier: triptych / calligraphy). Diplomarbeit: »Polyphonie und Gestaltung« , 2005. 6 Jahre Art Direktion in München; Filmautor für »quer« (BR). Master of Arts in Bildwissenschaft (Schwerpunkte Philosophie und Medienkunst), Donau-Universität Krems. Master Thesis: Pictorial Ambiguity, 2010. Kunstvermittlung (»tim« Augsburg« und »H2 – Zentrum für Gegenwartskunst, Augsburg), Veröffentlichungen und Vorträge in den Bereichen »Philosophie und Kunst«, etwa: Experimentieren als Forschung in Wissenschaft und Kunst (2015), Experimentieren, Fremderfahrung, Selbstrelativierung (2016), oder Der Begriff »Sehendes Sehen« bei Max Imdahl, Eintrag im Glossar der Bildphilosophie. 2010-2017 Lehraufträge in freie Gestaltung, Medientheorie, Bildwissenschaft, u.a., Hochschule Augsburg, Fakultät für Gestaltung, Studiengänge Kommunikationsdesign und Interaktive Medien, neben der Leitung von Kursen wie Experimentieren als Lebensform (Modul »Freie Gestaltung«) auch Begleitung von Bachelorarbeiten (z.B.: Bewegungsformen als Lebensweisen). 2018 u.a. Einladungen zu Dozententätigkeit in München und zu Vortrag an der Berlin-Brandenburgischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Vortragstitel: »Visuelles Wissen und Mustergebrauch als nicht-sprachliche Verstehensformen«, siehe: PhD Vorstudien. Praktiziert und lehrt Iwama Ryū Aikidō. Freischaffender Künstler. Verheiratet mit Stefanie Romanacci, Sohn J. Constantin.