Steven Pippin

Helga Maria Klosterfelde

2009:Feb // Ana Teixeira Pinto

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Sometime ago the man who was then my boyfriend bought a little music box. Unlike other music boxes with their fanciful ballerinas and pink swans this one is just a skeleton, nothing other than row of tuned steel teeth plucked by pins set in a revolving cylinder. The cylinder is connected to a ratchet lever, which one needs to manually spin. When we do spin the cylinder a mechanical version of „The Internationale“ can be heard. The way its barren steel teeth revolve relentlessly is in starch contrast with the touching frailty of the tune and if a single object could be the token of all the tragedy of the industrial age this one would be it I thought.

Last Thursday I couldn’t help recalling the music box while looking at another tragic toy, Steve Pippin’s half analogue half digital camera. It is literally a junction of two cameras, which were sawed in half and glued back together. To dispel our doubts about the performance of such an object we are also presented with the issuing photographs, half analogue half digital prints spliced together along a vertical axis. If in Analogue photography light is imprinted either as chemical process or as electric signal onto a surface or plate, in digital photography the intensity of the light wave is read by a sensor, which translates it into binary code. There is no major aesthetical difference since the photographs have roughly the same appearance. There is however a poetic difference, like the one in between West Berlin and East Berlin, which the artist mentions. But there is also something else. The analodigital machine, just like the music box, raises suspicion that the device doesn’t imply the display. That there is a bigger rift than the one in between the two sides of the images. That free markets do not lead to free societies anymore than political progress leads to the absence of sufferance. That the digital world is not anymore dystopian than the analogue world was. That we never know what we got till its gone cause we always give ourselves up to nostalgia. And most of all that a nerdy, shoddy little thing can prove to be an exegetically effective metaphor.

Helga Maria Klosterfelde
Linienstraße 160
10115Berlin 7.11.2008–31.1.2009 
Steven Pippin „Analogital compact camera (prototype)“ (© 2008 Courtesy Helga Maria Klosterfelde Edition, Berlin)
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