Markus Huemer

Markus Huemer (* 1968 Linz) poses the question of the possibility of painting in the digital age. He moves to border areas where the reference to images replaces and overlays the actual images, blurring the boundaries between the original and the derivative. (Sprengel Museum, Hannover)

Huemer's insects and plant works refer to the copperplate engravings by the German naturalist Sibylla Maria Merian (1647–1717), who as a woman managed to discover a number of previously unknown animals and plants in Suriname, and to study and document their development. Huemer, for his part, creates paraphrases of these copperplate engravings by digitally processing the templates, painting them without mostly his own artistic signature and thus generating “new” biomorphic forms. In addition, they are displayed in non-realistic colors such as black, gray, white and yellow.

Knowing that all motifs today are created through processing with filters and only find their way onto the canvas through processing the photos, Markus Huemer, among others, asks questions about the problem of the difference between reality and visual reality in a medial completely changed present. Using a “jungle” of references, he develops a complex work that is dedicated to the analysis of digital media and the dissolution of the boundaries between painting/drawing and media art. Huemer selects individual points from the randomly computer-generated points and transforms them with a few lines (and expanded with two legs) into cheeky and self-confident birds that occupy the pictorial space, referring to the ancient Roman tradition of auspices (bird's-view). They were seen as essential yes/no decision machines and Huemer points to binary codes and digital decryption as a reading of the media.

Such an image is created by a digital process, but not an image of nature. Instead, the works are based on the underlying algorithms and programs and no longer refer to anything. The reference has replaced the actual image. Huemer's pictures ultimately turn out to be delusions. The often irritatingly long picture titles are essential for understanding Huemer's work, as they force the recipient to look at the pictures a second time in order to grasp their additional meaning.

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