Gestures & Scripts

Les gestes
video projection
at Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin

The hand is often regarded as a universal and intuitive means of interacting with a computer, circumventing language. Lanz points out that far from being universal, «the way a tool is handled conveys a specific language that reproduces the users more or less conscious relation to the world». The tools that already exist offer us metaphors for understanding new things. A knife is an «interface», one-half designed for the hand, one-half for the apple. Similarly, gloves for brushing a dog, or peeling a leg, may help us to put a data glove or the disembodied virtual «glove» that points in the cyberspace screen into a larger anthropological context. ...

Far from viewing the interface between humans and their computers as a recent development, Eric Lanz addresses «interactivity» as a structural principle that could be treated much as a paleontologist studies cave paintings. In this way, Lanz seems to place the most commonplace gestures and artifacts under scrutiny from an alien culture that does not know quite what a tool is. Just as the proper way to apply a staple lifter or fish scaler may be mysterious in a few decades, few may remember the proper way to «interact» with the most «intuitive» interface once the computers of today become what Bruce Sterling calls «dead media».
Framing interactivity at the macro-scale of technical and biological evolution allows Lanz to make the act of categorization itself into his subject. What seems obvious at first is then estranged with unexpected sequences or combinations despite the documentary realism of Les Gestes.
Margaret Morse


In Manuskript, the work Eric Lanz produced for the first issue of Artintact, we zoom in into a block of unidentifiable graphic elements. Then we decipher lines, then signs that compose them and finally these signs turn out to be the images of tools. Placed against a white background, meticulously lined up and grouped together, like so many letters making so many words, they seem to simulate the hieroglyphs of some strange script. It is possible to run along a line to choose a particular tool, a bit like a finger running over a page. A tool is selected by clicking on it, and we can see the use of the tool in a window. It’s the confrontation between the sign and the object, between the eye which interprets and the hand which executes.
Hypermedia allows for a non-linear access to stored information, an invitation to wander and to combine various different media. Eric Lanz’s appropriation of this technique is paradoxical. He does not multiply the levels of information, nor adds any kind of effects. He is not offering any extravagant possibilities for random information sampling, just as he has never given in to the temptation of extravagant special  video effects. He gives the impression of standing back from the critical lesson about technologies, the better to develop a kind of internal resistance, holding the technical possibilities in reserve, playing with them on a low key, in a minimal mode, almost agaist the grain.
Anne-Marie Duguet




17 photos 50 x 50 cm
at Fotomuseum, Winterthur