This five-channel video installation alludes to Józef Robakowski’s 1971 film Test 1. The original Test 1 was made without the use of a camera – Robakowski punched round holes of various sizes in black film tape, and added sound by sratching the sound track. The pioneering media production that resulted deals with the energy of light – the basic medium of film projection. It also deals with the phenomenon of perception: the juxtaposition of light and black in the film irritates the viewers’ optic nerves, causing subjective afterimages, which means the optical signal from the images on the tape loses its objective character when modulated by the dazzling light of the projector. At a 1974 experimental film festival in Knokke-Heist, Belgium, Robakowski heightened the effect of stunning the audience with the energy of light with a performance in which he stood on a ladder in front of the screen while Test 1 was being projected and used a mirror to reflect the beams of light into the audience.
The intensity of light in a video image is much lower than in a film, even if they are apparently identical. When viewed on a video monitor, as in Test Five, Robakowski’s work has a very different effect: It becomes primarily an animation composed of white dots on a black background. Thus it becomes a work about the migration of forms between two different media – film and video – an issue which is fundamental to contemporary visual culture. Test Five is also a musical composition arising from the random combining of sounds from five channels and the harmonies that emerge from that randomness. The title Test Five also alludes to Dave Brubeck’s 1959 jazz piece Take Five.
Józef Robakowski – artist, art historian, filmmaker, photographer, draftsman and creator of video recordings, installations, actions and conceptual projects; Robakowski is one of the most important figures in contemporary Polish art.
Official website: www.robakowski.net