Van der Auwera’s VideoSculptures take a new position to explore the intersections of digital and physical life and how the filtering of images in production, dissemination, and digestion alter both individual perception and consensual experience. Using the screen as sculptural material, these works break images out of the frame in a low-tech manner. They start with an act of destruction as the artist literally takes a knife to a screen to carve away physical layers. Unbeknown to most, these layers are filters that are adhered to every LCD screen. Without the mediation of these filters, images become impossible to see with the naked eye and white noise fills the space.
In a second step, the removed filters are placed on tripods between the screens, which makes the images visible, but only as fragments. In this sense, the act of looking becomes a physical activity where the body and effort of the viewer are essential to seeing. One must change their position to see different angles of the story playing out before them. These sculptures create a field of view where the image appears in the horizon between the viewer and the screen, subverting the process of perception and breaking the standard suspension of disbelief to give control back to the viewer.
The screens are playing edited films based on corporate field demonstrations that market the latest thermal imaging technology to military contractors. Advertised as the world’s ‘sixth sense,’ thermal imaging offers precise surveillance for a range of uses – firefighting, navigation, safety and law enforcement, pest control, and medical diagnostics. The footage flaunts a thermographic camera’s skills at capturing detail and range – yet paints a phantasmal portrait of the Las Vegas Strip, drained of its color and camp, as citizens are non-consensual test subjects. In this sense, Van der Auwera’s VideoSculpture emerges as both an image and image-hunter, surveying from the sniper tower.