Framed, De-framed, Reframed!

Curator's Note

Frame, according to Gilles Deleuze, "is, in any case, a limitation."[1] Whether it is a painting frame, a centripetal, as Andrea Bazin puts it, oriented inward and constituting part of the pictorial microcosmos[2], or a cinematic frame, masking the reality that extends beyond it, the frame includes the "sets" of objects within and excludes the out-of-field space. Unlike the off-screen space in film and moving image, which actually or virtually designate the out-of-field space, painting lacks or resists its relation to, the off-screen space, specifically in pre-modern and modernist artworks, which tend to exclude themselves from the representational reality to unfold the artist’s impression or expression of the world. The universe that the painter chooses to depict for their audience may not exist in reality and is constrained by what is depicted on the canvas. Thus, the off-screen space of the paintings displayed in the galleries or museums is void; empty walls and spaces are meticulously measured to determine the "proper" space and distance of the work from the audience and the other artworks displayed in the vicinity. The off-screen space isolates the painting, which, as Walter Benjamin puts it, "invites the spectator to contemplation and concentration."[3] But what happens to this off-screen space, and how are images of artworks framed in the "Immersive Experiences”[4]? De-framed images in the "immersive experience" spectacle, while removing the border between the audience and the image and filling all the conceivable off-screen spaces, reflect the aesthetic of the digital interface spaces, which tend to fill in all gaps that would lead to pause and contemplation, and instead offer users a place to frame and share their visual experiences. 

Digitally reproduced images of the painting in the "Immersive Experiences" allow the audience to "step into the art"[5] or immerse into the painting by turning it into a screen. Every surface becomes a potential screen or virtual canvas for temporarily hosting an image; a plaster model of the artist's torso, an enormous model of a vase, a geometric shape made out of cardboard, the industrial walls of a warehouse, and the moving bodies of the audience, all perform as vessels to capture the projected images. Streams of images, fractured and animated by algorithms and software, orchestrated in space and followed by a classical music component, elude entrapment in frozen frames. However, immersed and camouflaged audiences,  saturated in multiple screens, ruptures the screen to reframe the elusive images with their device’s camera to recycle them back to other visual or virtual continuous sequences on social media platforms. Does the transition from the "information age" to the "(immersive) experience age" stand in the dialectic between a framed and a reframed world? Is experiencing the immersion in borderless images the new form of spectacle? And, what is so threatening about an empty off-screen that has to be filled with sonic, visual, and textual motion?


[1] Deleuze, Gilles. Cinema 1: The Movement-Image. Trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam. London & New York: The Athlone Press, 1989. P 12.

[2] Bazin, André. "Painting and cinema." The Visual Turn: Classical Film Theory and Art History (2003): 221-225.

[3] Benjamin, Walter. "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, 1936." (1935).

[4] The large-scale digital installation is generally titled something like "Immersive Van Gogh," "Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience," or "Beyond Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience." You can also replace Van Gogh with Monet, Klimt, Picasso, et al.

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