Rolf AamotNorwegian Biographic Encyclopedia 2005 volume 10 page 155
AAMOT, Rolf, 1934-, electronic painter, graphician, visual tonal-image-composer, film director and cultural author. Born 28.9.1934 in Bergen. Parents: Entrepreneur Randulf Andreas Aamot (1895-1981) and seamstress Petra Kristine Marie Aspevik (1904-94). Married 1960 to painter and composer Bjørg Lødøen (7.12.1931-), daughter of Chief Physician Olav Arnold Lødøen (1907-97) and Borghild Høyem Dybvik (1909-2002).
Rolf Aamot, has since the 1950`s, been regarded a pioneer within electronically based expressions of art in graphics and photo paintings as well as the scenic and filmatic media. His exploration of experimental innovative technology (data, laser, photo technique) combined with multiple traditional art forms (music, film, theatre, ballet and photo arts) has gained international interest and attention.
While still attending Academy of Arts and Craft 1952-55, Aamot was granted a great decoration assignment for the Paleontologic Museum of Oslo. His traditional education then continued at The Public Academy of Arts 1958-60 with the professors Aage Storstein and Alexander Schultz as masters. Both worked under the impression of cubism and new classicism, and were devoted to the 1920`s efforts to unite figuration and abstraction.
Throughout his artistic endeavor, Aamot has been inspired by the accelerating contemporary electronic development. This led him into exploration and study to express new artistic expressions for concerts, film and television. Among other things, he accomplished a series of classes at Public school of Film studies/Public Centre for film 1969-77 and at The Drama Institute of Stockholm 1973. Through his work, he obtained professional contact and undertook study travels to Austria 1952, Italy 1959 and Spain 1961. During the years 1966-84, his works of art were displayed in Scandinavia, France, Germany, Belgium, Italy, the Soviet Union, USA and Japan.
The modern electronic-technologic development during the years of 1955-65 and the frankness of picture arts towards other art forms, gave Rolf Aamot mind-boggling opportunities. Both artistically and technically, the graphic tone-arts/picture-music evolved through laser- and computer-technology. The tone-arts belonging to music, film and television was expressed in the show Evolution (1966) with music composed by Arne Nordheim. The works was broadcasted in 1967 in Norwegian Broadcasting System Television (NRK/TV), and it then represented a milestone of a new art-form in which the television-medium, for the first time in Europe, was used as an independent picture-artistic means of expression. Inspired by the results, which now existed after 10 years of technical studies in close contact with a rich and complex artistic environment, Aamot continued his work throughout the 1970`s with electronic paintings, art films and video arts for different medias. This often occurred in cooperation with the painter and composer Bjørg Lødøen. In 1986 came their joint picture-tune drama Medusa, in which Lødøen contributed as an actor.
The basis was laid for visual picture-tunes in color, nuance and line; a performance/play for the eye in motion through time and space. In a rare way, Aamot`s sophisticated tune-based colorite manages to provide spatial depth, and simultaneously appeal to the viewers participation in its fiction. This is as much a question of internal, as well as external landscapes in human search for an expression of a contemporary acknowledgement. Even if his motives are in an abstract shape, they will provide associations to landscapes reflected in titles as Before the storm and Dead calm (2003).
Less known in the experimental and explorative art deed featuring Aamot, is his photo arts; with earnest character studies of famous Norwegian personalities such as Erik Løchen, Finn Alnæs and Elisabeth Granneman.
Aamot has had exhibitions in The national Norwegian Autumn Exhibition [Kunstnernes Hus], the Henie-Onstad Art Centre at Høvikodden and Bergen Art Museum, as well as contributing in collective exhibitions domestic and abroad, such as Kalmar Art Museum, Louisiana Museum for Modern Arts, the international biennial «The Masters of Graphic Acts» in Hungary, International Print Triennial in Krakow, Poland, and The Norwegian international Ggraphictriennial in Fredrikstad. In the year 2000 he was especially invited by the jury to participate at the The national Norwegian Autumn Exhibition, besides Contemporary Art Gallery in Opole, Poland 2003 and Old Manage in Moscow 2004.
Among Aamot`s separate exhibitions, the exhibitions in the Henie-Onstad Art Centre at Høvikodden 1995 and The Norwegian Museum for Photo art 2003/2004 should be mentioned. Here, he does not only demonstrate the force of coloritic arts, but a highly skilled knowledge of laser and computer techniques, computer painting on canvas, computer graphics, digital photo paintings and picture-tunes in physical time. The motives are characterized by an exquisite intensity in color, based on the over-tone scale of the color, in which they create an unexpected yet profound feeling of space.
Aamot has created several films, as the cinema films Actio (1980) and Aurora borealis (1991), and a number of TV productions. He has been given many public assignments, among others for National committee for Short Film, Norwegian Broadcasting System, Arts Council Norway and Norwegian Film Ltd. Rolf Aamot is represented in the National Museum of Art, the Henie-Onstad Art Centre at Høvikodden, Bergen Art Museum, Kalmar Art Museum and several other public and private collections, and he has been represented at numerous international film- and arts festivals.
With the work Energi (2003), Aamot received Rune Brynestad`s scholarship 2004. The scholarship was granted by Norwegian Visual Artists association.
Ole Petter Bjerkek
Literary works [Norwegian titles are translated]:
«New Art – a private or social issue? » , in Kunst for mennesket - eller museet? [Art for Man or Museum?], 1969, pg. 62-77; «Visual Dramaturgy», in Spillerom [Free hands]. Norwegian theatre’s Magazine for dance and theatre, no 3 and 4/1990, pg. 54-55; «The world is our body – colour is love», laser painting, the Henie-Onstad Art Centre at Høvikodden 1995; «The laser painting and the secrets of Art» , in Morgenbladet 1.9.1995; «Physical film – tonal-image style», in Rusch Print, no 2 /1996, pg. 32-33; «Visual Dramaturgs», in Rusch Print, no 5/1996, pg. 32-33; Tidal water, Bergen Art Museum, exhibition 9.5-7.6.1998; «Arts-critics crisis in Bergen», in Bergens Tidende 5.6.1998; «Selection of contemporary Arts», in Dagbladet 21.1.2005; «The Director`s might captures Arts», in Klassekampen 1.3.2005; «Strong Master in own House», in Klassekampen 30.5.2005; «Artists is forced silence», in Morgenbladet 27.5.2005;«Tonal-image and visual Dramaturgy in graphic Art», is being prepared to the Arts Council Norway.
Public works: Dinosaurs, mural wall painting, Paleontologic Museum of Oslo, 1955.
TV-productions: Evolutions, 1966; Relief no 2 (together with E. Roger), 1967-68; BSK, 1969; Structure], 1970; Visual, 1971; Progress, 1977; Medusa (together with B. Lødøen), 1986; Pulse, 1986; The extraction, 1987; Sound in close, 1987; The Dream is always, 1988.
Films: Relieff, 1966-67; Kinetisk Energi, 1967-68; Vision 1969; Actio, 1980; Nordlys, 1991; Tid-e-vann (together with K. Linder), 1997-2000; Energi, 2003; Destruksjon, 2004.
Exhibition on the internet: Photo digital painting, Feeling of a deeply grief, www.preusmuseum.no.
SOURCES AND LITERATURE
A. M. Klausen: Kunstsosiologi, 1977; G. Alfsen: biografi i Norsk kunstnerleksikon, [Norwegian artist Encyclopedia] bd. 4, 1986; U. Renberg: «Billedmusikken kommer!», i Arbeiderbladet 21.4.1987; Å. Forfang: «Underholdningsindustrien er vår tids krigsmakt», i Dag og Tid 7.5.1987; MF: «Musikk i TV. Bildemusikalsk revirkamp», i Programbladet 8.-14.5.1987; Allgemeines Kunstnerlexikon, München-Leipzig 1992; C. Wiggen: «Ekspresjonistisk stil» og «Billedmusikalsk stil», i Rusch Print no 6/1993, pg. 14-15; Ø. Hauge: «Elektriske skygger», i Bergens Tidende 2.11.1994; J. Holmelid: «Med laser som pensel», i Bergens Tidende 22.11.1994; O. Fyllingsnes: «Fargesprakande lasermåleri», i Dag og Tid 31.8.1995; H. Flor: «'Myk' laser på lerret», i Dagbladet 10.9.1995; Ø. Storm Bjerke: Rolf Aamot - digitale fotomalerier, Norsk museum for foto [Preuss Museum] 2003; E. Bjørnskau: «Smerte med digitale fargefrekvenser», i Aftenposten 7.11.2003.
[Translated from the Norwegian by Ole Petter Bjerkek and Jens Thomas Bjerkek]
Article from the Norwegian publication "Programbladet" (28th May - 3rd June, Nr. 22, 1967)
"Evolution" - an experiment
TELEVISION - SUNDAY 9:50pm
The Painter Rolf Aamot has for a long time been working with an art form he is labeling "visual-music", compositions where musical tools like color tones relationships, harmony and disharmony, darkness and light, dynamics, contrasts etc. is created for the eye. Rolf Aamot has had "concerts" with such compositions in which color also is a significant part. Rolf Aamot has, as an experiment, made a special composition called "Evolution" for television, of course based on black and white. The translation of his technique from screen to television was an interesting attempt, and the resources of television seem to be well suited for this purpose.
Collaboration with composer Arne Nordheim is new in this television version of Rolf Aamot's "visual music". Arne Nordheim has used the visual music as a source and composed electronic music, independent and parallel to Aamot's composition, neither part is supposed to be secondary as an accompaniment to the other.
The two composers will give a short explanation in conversation with Ole Henrik Moe before the composition is shown.
*Magne Malmanger wrote in Dagbladet (Norwegian newspaper) a year ago in relation to a performance of Aamot's "Constellations I" - a visual concert without sound at the Munch Museum: "It seems like Aamot finds the pure painting to be of less power in our time. He wishes to face his audience in a more direct and inescapable way. One has to admit that his visual music in a certain way is active and demands ones attention in a way a painting is hardly capable of doing. Even so, it seems to me that Aamot on an artistic level can seem quite abstract and intellectual, sometimes even a bit cool and distanced. These compositions will likely not appeal to the majority in its current form. We are looking at visual chamber music for specially invited. It is pointless to judge a performance such as this one at the current time. It is also probably by principle impossible to try to give it a meaningful description, simply because it is so far in a category all by itself. The visual music's expression must also for the same reason be rather general, at this early stage. Such a concert cannot yet be met with expectations that will be confirmed or invalidated. Aamot, with his intellectual standing, would likely be the first one to admit that an absolute visual expression hardly exists. But one can investigate new possibilities and effects. One can start building a new language, a new way of communicating. Aamot is still standing at the beginning. We wish him the best with his continued work."
[Translated from the Norwegian by Kristin Lodoen Linder]
Article from the Norwegian publication "Programbladet" (21 - 27 April, Nr. 17, 1968)
Rolf Aamot calls his work "Relief", in which music, dance, costumes and light is integrated. He is calling it a "nonfigurative figurative" form, with human as center focus. (Television - Sunday 9:50pm)
The composition consists of the following elements: Film, soundtracks, dance, light and costume.
The film is a pure visual music recording, and it is making the foundation for the rest of the composition: The soundtrack, consisting of electronic music by Bjørn Fongaard, and the choreography by Edith Roger which is based on the visual music. Finally there is the costume as an important part, as a tonal element, and the light is adapting all parts into a unity.
---- Can You explain a bit about how the film was made?
---- The film is a tonal-instrument -recording, cinematically arranged.
I have constructed the instrument - the first in a series of instruments I would like to make. What is made on the instrument is transformed by filtering, tone combinations etc. This Process can in principle be compared with the lab process when electronic music is made.
The film is in the studio partly an independent unity - it is shown on its own on screen - and it is partly creating a décor and background for the choreography. The movement of this décor-element is closely following the movement of the dance in interplay. The soundtrack is a part of this unity, and the light is transforming everything in transit. During the recording these tonal elements is merging with the costumes, which are an element of its own.
---- Does the different elements resound together in an internal relation in the same way as the notes in chord?
---- The intention is for the different elements to resound together in the same way as for instance the different elements in the performance of an Opera. But with the difference that in this case we are based on a common artistic foundation. The tonal elements can be developed in sound and light in the same way, this can be adapted to include body language and light. This is not a place where several art forms meet, as in the performance of an Opera. We have a common language of picture, sound and movement as a foundation.
---- What is Your purpose with this composition?
---- In an integrated artistic foundation, to get a nonfigurative figurative form. We are based on a common foundation where association-value or the literary is without any value. It is not an external theater, not a literary theater, but a pure visual theater.
---- The term "nonfigurative figurative" seems undeniably a bit self-contradictory?
---- My intention is to lead people into a visual world where the person though expression visually creating in space, purely in terms of color areas and tone relationships.
---- Does this have a purpose apart from the purely aesthetic?
---- Any arts and craft object has its own value. The shapes have in itself a human expression. By using pure lines and nuance and body language, which is solely movement, you will get closer to the singular humane rather than using literary or compromised-solutions in a way you find in the theater all the time. On a purely artistic foundation we get a visual theater performance that is solely dependent on its own values, and the distance in reaching the audience will become shorter - even if they at first react in a negative way. It is not possible to have any disturbing associations because there is nothing to associate with - at least from my point of view.
---- Could there not be less elements, based on the same intentions?
---- This is correct. My first visual music composition, shown in television a year ago, was solely a combination between visual music and electronic music. Buy progressing, by using other means of expression such as - theater, ballet - we are introducing body language into tone relationships. The humane form is expressing the pure abstract. In this way we get further contact with the audience - the subject matter gets stronger humane expression. We get human against human - not only picture against human. A picture where time is added as an artistic element gives us a direct effect of what the picture want to express. Imagine music's and film's way of engaging, exactly because time is an important element in the expression of these art forms. It is though light- and sound-impressions in motion that we comprehend ourselves and the world around us. Sound and light is the most direct media we have in relation to expressing the humane. Light has for thousands of years been used as a musical medium. By using the light we can create an art form mediated though the modern mass-media, particularly television, that will give the artist a new way of reaching a greater audience in a way that will certainly engage.
To reach this objective there will be a need to develop several visual instruments, mechanical and electronic. These instruments can be used alone, as an intermediary of pure visual expression - visual music - but also as a part of equipment used in a performance of a composition, where a synthesis of sound and light is created: Audio -visual concerts. In such collaboration both sound- and visual music will each be an independent art form, but will even so form an artistic unity. One of the purposes of the visual music is to establish collaboration between the different art forms, in which every art form keeps its independence.
[Translated from the Norwegian by Kristin Lodoen Linder]
Rolf Aamot - Digital Photopaintings
(By Øivind Storm Bjerke)
Rolf Aamot has always been a restless and experimental artist who in particular has realized the potential of developing his figurative language through the use of technological innovations. The technological side of his art alone could form the subject of an entire study. Technique has never been his goal, however; rather it has been a means of creating images. Rolf Aamot has been an active artist for almost fifty years. His first major work was a commission to decorate the Museum of Paleontology in Oslo, which he concluded in 1955, the same year that he graduated from the Norwegian Academy of Art, Crafts and Design. During his time at the Academy, which he attended from 1958 until 1960, Rolf Aamot studied under Aage Storstein and Alexander Schultz - two painters whose roots can be traced to the efforts of the 1920s to unite figuration and abstraction under the impression of cubism and neoclassicism. In other words, Aamot had a very traditional academy education.
Aamot began his career as an artist at a time when young innovative pictorial artists perceived themselves - and were perceived by the general public - as messengers for abstract painting. That is, abstract painting as it emerged in contemporary France. These painters paved the way for the evolution of three different directions: lyrical abstraction in painting, constructivist painting and spontaneous informalism. Irrespective of the choices made by individual artists, there was general consensus among them that images were two-dimensional and that everything in a picture was on one plane. Respect for the fact that an image was flat became a central issue. A successful picture is initially a decorative pattern on one plane, before it appears as anything else - e.g. a tree. A successful picture forms a visual whole consisting of material, color and shape which confirm the image's two dimensions. Contemporary paintings were essentially decorative paintings that sought an ornamental expression. Illusionism was the domain of photography.
Even within the field of photography, the tendency has been that photography in the 1950s and 1960s that wished to appear as "artistic" noticeably attempted to arrange a motif on the surface, so that a picture appears as though it attempts to represent an arrangement of surface figures. Light and dark are transformed into abstract patterns and appear as though their intention was to fulfill a compositional form taken from a recipe book describing good composition in paintings. It is remarkable in any case how such a great deal of photography that has regarded itself as "artistic" has for long periods of time endeavored to capture sections of motifs and carry out cropping, which results in the picture appearing to be a harmonious entity where the format of the picture that is perceived of as a surface is confirmed, whereas amateur photography to a far greater degree perceives the motif as action in space. We can see this as the result of the fact that throughout the period during which photographs have been taken the goal of the most prestigious artistic technique until recently - painting - has been to address the surface.
In his later artistic career, Aamot has moved in the opposite direction of creating images that are flat. On the contrary, Rolf Aamot has been concerned with creating space. In particular, this has made it difficult to pigeonhole him in relation to his contemporaries. Aamot's imagery emerges in an environment where there are dominant references to art history, which to some extent can be claimed to conflict with the content of the ideas that the artist wishes to communicate.
If we use the term "photography" in its literal sense as "drawing with light", then Rolf Aamot has been a photographer who has seldom or never been associated with photography. He is an artist who for almost 40 years has been in the forefront when it comes to experimenting with photo-based forms of visual expression within fields such as film, video and electronic art, which he has materialized in the form of individual images produced as laser paintings and now also as conventional chemical photography. Aamot's pictures raise our level of awareness, through their accentuation of space, that photography is an art form that is linked in equal measure to performance art such as the theatre as it is to paintings.
In 1969, Rolf Aamot presented his works at the Munch Museum, where he applied the term "visual theatre" to his work. On 24 February 1969, in a full-page spread in VG, the Norwegian national daily, it was announced that a new theatre had been founded in Oslo: "The Visual Theatre, instigated by the "never-resting graphic artist and painter Rolf Aamot, 34, a campaigner for the artistic use of our mass media such as film, television and newspapers". According to Rolf Aamot, the basis of "visual theatre" is that our existence is not linear and that life and art fuse to form one entity. The artist's task is to "program so that the onlooker can be faced with choice, and thus take a creative role".
Aamot wanted to bring people back to art. Not in the form of figures taken from baroque paintings, from the romantic period or contemporary modernistic figurative painting. For Aamot, art is not a means with which to decorate, be it for everyday use or for festive occasions; rather it is a means of recognition and acknowledgement. Aamot has chosen to focus on two aspects of recognition: social and political aspects. In his art, people return in the form of these two dimensions. Art should be returned to the people and people should be in art. The best way he as an artist can reach out to the people is through the mass media, since the mass media is the most effective and decisive system in our time for reaching out to people - and thus a network that forms a spider's web that captures unsuspecting visitors. Of key importance in Rolf Aamot's world of ideas are knowledge of how the media exploit images and the visual dramaturgy they use to achieve their goals.
According to Rolf Aamot, good forms of media distinguish between "I" and "we" - they offer a sense of belonging, proximity and intensity, while at the same time respecting individuality and multiplicity. The ideal is to produce a social space that allows both individual and collective autonomy using dialogues as the ideal form of communication. "Interaction in social space has been the forte of the labor movement" (Aamot). For Aamot, culture is interaction and the art he seeks to produce is art that fosters and strengthens interaction. Aamot believes that modern mass media represent new public spaces and the powers that be seek to gain power over this public space. Anyone who today seeks power seeks to control the media. In this perspective, Aamot's artistic project appears as an attempt to counter power. Aamot's pictures contain no mottoes, no figurations that we can identify directly with political figures, events or current affairs - yet his entire artistic practice is deeply political.
In 1966, Rolf Aamot recorded the first "music video" on Norwegian television - using music composed by Arne Nordheim. At the time of its broadcast one year later, it was the first time television had been used as an independent artistic medium.
Art needs to be included in the task of creating our total environment. The places people meet and are attracted to each other and repelled from one another appear as stages where the visual theatre unfolds. It is a dialogue theatre, where the dialogue can be read not in the form of verbal statements, but in the form of visually available shapes and colors. In this theatre what is most important is vision and what one senses through vision. It's not that strange that Rolf Aamot has never received a central position in contemporary art, considering that the dominant trend right from the 1960s has been to deconstruct and to give less priority to vision in deference to words and their power.
Rolf Aamot's own contribution to this genre was his visual music. His visual music consisted of visual tones formed through the mechanical and electronic processing of light. Aamot has experimented with light and movement and how the interaction of these two components can be crystallized in the form of an image. Aamot's pictures in the form of laser painting, film and photographs can best be perceived as presentations of an electronic foundation that forms scores that can be presented in several different ways. Rolf Aamot's pictures have an expression that is enticingly beautiful. The reason why we perceive Aamot's images as being beautiful in the conventional sense has to do with the fact that his artistic style can be related to a generational style which we associate with the abstract paintings of the 1950s and 1960s. If one gets bogged down in these references as a background for understanding the pictures, however, one will often miss out on the fact that behind this visual expression Aamot has quite another frame of reference, one that breaks radically with many ideals on which the Parisian school of abstract painting was based.
Øivind Storm Bjerke
On Rolf's exhibition at the The National Museum of Photography - PREUS PHOTOMUSEUM, Horten, Norway
VISUAL DRAMATURGY By Rolf Aamot
[kindly translated by Kristin Lodoen Linder]
The visual drama has its origin in our strategies of survival.
Our survival is the purpose of experience. Perceiving and feeling we shape the life supporting thoughts of our actions. Our inner and outer energies and moods are the framework of visual dramaturgy. The alternatives are clear:Visual communication or violation of the eye.Time and space control our actions. Surviving with self-respect requires readiness of perception, feeling and action. Our economy has its ground in an economy of love. The purpose of power struggle is, first of all, the domination of others. In this struggle the entertainment industry are weapons of mass destruction: Human beings facing each other in a battlefield.
The media and city centers are the meeting place. Keyword: Communion. Where people meet visual theater is found. Every place of assembly is a stage. We meet and part in the visual dialogue of the Theater of Love. We create and seize intensities. A play of simultaneous and synchronous action where we give and take - time and space. Economy of love. All energy – positive or negative – signals of life or death – converted into intensities. The factors being interchangeable. Power over self or others takes place by control of speed, momentum and connections of streams of intensity. Visual drama originates in, and returns to, the scenography of the human face and the performance of the eyes. Body, color, shade and line are the amplifiers of the eye. The communications of the eye are all embracing. To our experience, knowledge, action, handling of emotion is given image-rhythms. Without eye culture, without power to express self or fathom the expressions of others, without a language of tonal images capable of communicating the inner visions of another human being we would be isolated and impoverished. The world will be threatening. We would be abandoned in the purely physical surroundings in which we were born. Behind it all: Nothingness, emptiness, all-absorbing darkness.
The dramaturgy of the eye is a strategy of survival. The theater of sight is a social phenomenon with roots in the creation of groups. Man needs to see the relevance of his actions. The space of the individual facing space contains the field of tension of the visual theater. Without relating body and space the personality development of the role turns into an autonomous, directionless and empty movement. The seer looks past the seen. Driving force of visual drama: Solidarity of body space of self, openness within bounds – towards the group and space. The totality formed by line, shade and color: Organic progress, closeness, nearness, similarity encountering the intensity of other human beings. Body, bodies, scenography and light as body. The body of the community is “the other human being”, affirming the seer. No one exists, and nothing has happened without the visualization facing us in “the other human being”. The visual drama confirms: We exist. Death is denied.
The primary choice: rebellion or submission. In our mind is waged a war of moods. The individual is facing 2 – two forms of survival experience: Visual communication and the violation of the eye. Visual communication and democracy belong together. Organic visual rhythm carries the pulse of heart and lungs.
The language of the eye braces the personality, and binds us together. Loneliness no longer seems irreparable. We can share our world with others and share our thoughts through actions sensed and felt: In this world we do exist and meet our fellow human beings. Plurality becomes a point of departure - embracing all oppositions. We are facing the unknown and the dissimilar.
The consensual has become suspect. The heteromorphy is a way out of terror, we seek the realization of the isomorphic. Sensitivity towards the different is activated, and the ability to tolerate the incommensurable managed.
One unit of movement represents one “truth”. By relating units of movement their values are in Play.
PLAY for Visual communication and Violation of the eye:
Visual dialogue: Bodies meeting and parting.
Gestalt factors giving development of form to the action.
The visual player sees, is seen or overlooked. Focus/Unfocus.
Scenography: The face where eyes act.
The search of its own rule is the rule of visual drama.
Always searching for a rule – rule of visual drama.
The visual dramatist and the visual player seek, test, invent. In short: Experiment.
Artists direct their attentiveness towards the decisive question of the ensontology of the unities of movement: How can one unit of movement be related to another unit of movement? Experimenting is relating – units never related before.
The question becomes: Does it happen? What happens?
The Goal: Winning time. Mastering the insight, anywhere.
Visual communication drama is action. The dramatist shapes time and space keeping his self-respect. Without the language of the eye not even nothingness can be fathomed, grasped and understood. The limits towards the world cannot be set, the elements cannot be set apart. All imagination becomes impossible: An omen, everywhere and nowhere; man cringes in the cave and only ventures out when hunger forces the situation. Through the language of images the distances of time and space were removed. We are humans.
The violation of the eye, the eye violence drama, we have in common with other animals. The struggle between us animals first of all: A visual struggle.
The negation of visual communication, eye violence, raises imaginary borders of time and space. The slave and the pray senses hidden barriers around their lives. The moment of the sublime glare paralyzes. The dramaturgy of Violation-of-the-eye is the dramaturgy of advertising language, the enslaving “here-and-now” of all commercial entertainment.
Man: Object. Spaceship disconnected from earth.
The role of the driver/enforcer consists in the intense search for final suspension of the eternal avalanche. Searching for the shapeless: The Sublime. All things enforcing terror are sublime, transporting the mind into momentous paralysis, inspiring dread, and in the next moment releasing a strange lust.
But all of it originating in terror, the measure depending upon the bracing of self of the individual human being.
All things filling our senses beyond every measure are sublime, or from the opposite end: “filling” them with a measureless emptiness, everything eternal and unmovable, and from the opposite end: a blitz like movement, in short:
Everything exceeding the domain of apprehension of the individual – over and under the threshold of pain. In the sublime experience the individual is made subject to a power, a power stronger than the subject. A Process is conducted – against the individual. The subject is given the sentence: Non-being. Object.
The experience of the sublime arises in the gap between the images that can be seen. Deception of the senses and inner reality escaping attention can call forth impressions, releasing the sublime. Every significance of imagination are annulled. Fed and kept – entertained – in the “here-and-now” of the momentous glare where meeting other human beings mean: Now or Never. The Individual caught in the dizzying power play swindle of art, culture and religion. Power play and entertainment are synonyms.
Eye comedy reduces the world to nothing. Glancing askew, upward, disconnected from our surroundings for a while, we are kept-entertained. All interest, all compassion and all identification are wiped out. The routine and boredom of everyday life finds its resonance in a contrapuntal Play: Disconnection from everyday life - nullifying responsibility. “The King” and “The Scapegoat” serves as bolt and lock in this upside world where every boundary disappears. The dramaturgy of violation-of-the-eye fluctuates between two poles, both of them being there from the very beginning, unfolding in an emblematic pattern of space and time: Converging and diverging. Our longings for convergence and divergence cohere in intricate ways, that cannot be dissolved, but only slowly, as time passes, exposes the “truth” of eye violence dramaturgy, perceived as faith. We encounter two inseparable tendencies: Reconciliation/hope – the growing tensions of the leitmotif – the great story, and on the other hand: dissolution and fragmentation followed trough to its ultimate conclusions – no causal dynamic interconnection – instead: static parallel movement, primarily consisting of context less “climaxes” (maximum intensity). Compounded fullness dissolved and replaced by parallel scenes of conflict/ combat, coincidence, masks, boredom, loneliness, anxiety, displeasure and chaos. Boredom/death converts everything into intensities of negation. The subject is deprived of space and time. The eye kept - entertained by terror.
Suddenly it is all over. The hard and ordinary days when the world is set aright. In this state of transition depression acquires a liberating force with possibilities of rebellion and massacre. Still: The monopoly of brutish power/ violence leads the individual into rosy rituals. Boredom reestablished: Enforcing the respect of the unity of time, place and action. Escapism as only hope: Once again – bewildering the roar of the masses in the One Week of The Slaves, the One Day of Slaves, in the “here-and-now” of a TV-second.
But: The dream keeps on living – always. There are powers in metaphors.
Electronic painting By Per Hovdenakk
Former Director of Henie-Onstad Art Centre, Norway
[kindly translated by Benjamin Eriksen]
Since the early Sixties Rolf Aamot has worked with electronic media, all the while maintaining his commitment to painting, wherein lie his origins. Once again he now returns to painting. Utilising electronic media he has developed his own aesthetic, articulated through the concepts of pictorial music or illustrative orchestration. His work in this field has also impacted on his paintings, which have been holographically composed and digitally transferred to the canvas by the use of laser.
Other artists also employ such painting techniques, quite naturally in an age when new technology presents its temptations and challenges on an almost daily basis.
However, for most other artists this foray into the technological possibilities is fleeting, or at best represents recurring excursions to a new world. Rolf Aamot’s work in this field is a permanent commitment, pervading and influencing the entire body of his artistic endeavour, as well as his attitudes to society, life and death.
A painter usually works in solitude, his means simple and his essential tools unchanged for centuries. Painting is more than a stream of imagery – it is also an overwhelming tradition, an institution. An institution that can be rewarding to partake in, but also one that requires courage to break away from through the addition or alteration of key components.
Working with contemporary electronic technologies forces the artist out of the studio’s solitude, to the others, into society.
This needn’t be simple. When faced with new demands and challenges, society has the capacity to forcefully repel innovation. Rolf Aamot himself experienced strong opposition upon contacting the instances possessing the means of production and the distributive power.
These were not the institutions of pictorial art, but of film-making and the National Norwegian Broadcasting Company (NRK). Both instances met him with powerful bureaucrats, distrustful of Rolf Aamot’s drastic innovation.
He could have chosen to work in a different country with more understanding. Interest manifested in countries like the U.S. and France, both of which invited collaborations with Aamot.
Displaying his trademark obstinacy, Rolf Aamot chose to go the distance in Norway.
In time, he produced seminally important electronic works, making him a pioneer in his field and providing the groundwork for contemporary accomplishments. It has most likely been a costly endeavour.
On occasion, such as in this catalogue, Rolf Aamot has written about his work. Or rather he has written about the ideas that represent his work’s foundation, thereby formulating his life philosophy. Interacting with the world outside the studio has necessitated – and enabled – the articulation of greater thoughts, survival strategies for central human values.
The crux of the argument must be that Rolf Aamot maintains art’s ability to counteract an increasing tendency towards superficial entertainment, particularly in the fields of TV and media, but also in the field of pictorial art.
Rolf Aamot represents dialogue and conversation, as opposed to the one-way communication of the entertainment industry. This is a reflection of social awareness, explaining why he remained in Norway instead of working in a country where his work would be more appreciated. It also explains his commitment to different causes and situations where the rights and wellbeing of individuals have hung in the balance.
There is no divide between life and art in the philosophy of modernism. This is a hard demand to meet. However, Rolf Aamot doesn’t easily do things the easy way.
[Published by Bergen Art Museum 1998]