Daniel Vlček: Through the eye of mechanical reproduction
Curator: Jiří Machalický
March 23 - April 21, 2017
Daniel Vlček is interested in the link between artistic representation and industrial production and the relationship between sound and its visual expression. Certain formats in his body of work have been adapted from forms of industry, a fact attested to by his consistent work with loops and repeated motifs. Originally it was the vinyl records he used as a DJ that defined the character of his paintings, works representing a specific template into which memory has been recorded. It was here that Vlček first tried to carry over musical elements onto the canvas, capturing musical practices via visual and artistic formats. At the same time, this work was based on the visualization of sound that had been the inspiration behind his drawings and paintings. In an almost constructivist way, he had attempted to ward off the surface while recording the rhythm found in the passing of time. This intention can be expressed as a spiral, the visual structure behind the principle of phonograph records. Vlček’s repeated motions based on a template are an intentionally mechanical method often resulting in abstract structures. This end result subverts the usual consequences of mechanical reproduction and draws attention to the true non-mechanical nature of Vlček’s practice.
Some of Vlček’s newest work features scanned archival photographs. The use of archival photographs is noteworthy as the photograph’s style, composition, and color can often betray the time of its taking. Despite being specific, these photographs cannot escape their existence as objects of mechanical reproduction. The traces of originality locked into the photograph’s style are erased by medium. This movement is taken a step further by today’s age of digital and virtual reproduction.
Vlček works with these photographs by scanning and printing them using a laser printer. These photographers are then adhered to canvases and completely covered with a layer of paint. This layer is in turn a meticulously etched away, gradually uncovering layers whose original content has been obscured in order to resurface as an entirely new structure. In these actions of embedding, covering, and revealing, Vlček copies mechanisms of memory.
Following years of experimentation and active practice, Vlček has arrived at a method derived from the fingerprint of memory and equipped with fragments of the past. He returns to the architecture of the decade in which he grew up, the eighties. Such a return marks a personal nostalgia while gesturing towards the properties of digital and virtual memory Vlček’s work is ultimately concerned with. This type of memory is always filled, only to be cleared away. As time passes, individuals die and take their memories with them. What remains is reproduced visual and historical memory. This form of memory is, however, tenacious, as it depends on visual and physical elements which, more than ever, can be easily manipulated. Vlček’s paintings work with this layering of memory, passing from the personal to the historical, crossing and covering over in an existence of fluctuation, forever gaining new rhythms and frequencies.
Vlček converts audio records into visual forms with the help of computer programs, leading to a manipulated digital audio format. Here he is interested in the motif of unstoppable time. This work also comes out of certain symbols related to contemporary lifestyle and one’s daily work with the computer. It is this day-to-day usage that opens up new possibilities, links seemingly unrelated meanings, and provides unexpected and unusual ways of expressing ideas.
Vlček has also been inspired by the creative principle of polyphony used, for example, in the Baroque period. This principle features closely related lines forming an “endless melody” which pervades music. A similar process takes places in Vlček's series of drawings, where this theme’s gradual evolution is illustrated through the demonstration of how stacked layers intersect and mechanically actuated straight lines and curves are connected, as well as what structure might create a slight alteration to the slope of a line. At the same time, the artist also makes use of accidents, an element inherent in every system that can make a composition truly special while creating surprisingly powerful effects.
For the NoD Gallery, Daniel Vlček has created a series of new paintings involving a destruction and mutation of original motifs from which new features or modules evolve. The current exhibition also presents a set of studies allowing for one to follow the development of the artist’s concepts and ideas. A sound installation, whose intertwining of two layers of sound in space is closely related to the exhibition’s visual component, is featured as well. The end result is a comprehensive solution developed for the gallery, where all elements serve a specific purpose while submitting to the artistic concept of the exhibition as a whole.