Out of Joint
Martin Liebscher pans his camera, moves it through space, or focuses it on moving objects. He comes upon his motifs in large cities, in his own natural habitat, as it were. Liebscher has modified his camera – a Praktika made in former East Germany – to enable him to feed an entire film through by hand while the shutter remains open. He calls the long drawn-out pictures which arise as a consequence “panorama pictures". Taking an average exposure time of 15 seconds, three of four pictures can be produced per film. The various points of focus are a product of how fast and in what direction he moves the camera. Between these points, spatial axes collapse and contours blur, with some images superimposed on others. While classical photography records a moment, Martin Liebscher’s panorama pictures border on film by lending that moment a dramatic quality.
For Liebscher, who for many years worked as a cinema projectionist, these strange optical effects possess a highly aesthetic quality, exuding a strong grain of spontaneity. After all, what each exposure will create is something he cannot estimate with accuracy in advance.
At the same time, the panorama pictures are supposed to replicate how we see. The moving, panning camera replaces the eyes. “We never focus on everything in our field of vision,” says Liebscher. “Our eyes are in constant motion. They scan the world around us, lose themselves in details, and then let them go again. My works document this fact.” The camera’s frequent change of direction leads to the typical sense of blurring, protraction and contraction encountered in Liebscher’s landscape formats. Not only do they imbue the subjective moment of perception with a new authenticity, they also show the world from a radically modern perspective. The world dissolves into a strip of asynchronous optical stimuli. All angles become transient in a world bereft of stability.
born in Naumburg/Saale
studied at the Staatliche Hochschule für Bildende Künste, Städelschule Frankfurt/Main
Slade School of Fine Arts, London
Lecturer at HfG Offenbach (Academy of Arts)
lives and works in Berlin