related exhibition:
You Are Here!
installations and photos
29. March 2002. - 4. May

Bálint Szombathy

The Struggles of Homo technicus
Thoughts on the artwork of Eike
Erika Deák Gallery, Budapest, 21. March - 5. May 2002


One of the primordial basic attributes of man is that s/he is never satisfied with what s/he is within, the environs in which s/he is surrounded. S/he imagines space to be infinite and with one step would like always to gain closer access to its physical certification. Behind the intention of augmenting her/his own physical potentialities, her/his self-assurance engages in that which the possession of technical tools endows her/him with. S/he has generated the so-called technical world, whose justification for existence is rooted in the inherent, limited corporeal endowments, and in the limitation of real possibilities. Thus, it would not be an exaggeration to say that in the psychological background of the majority of technological/technical achievements, the prevailing complexes of man are extended. And beyond this, that s/he hopes for a type of fundamental improvement and advancement from the succession of the new discoveries.

Amidst the enhanced potentialities of life through technology, as a general rule the prospect that we can break through the framework of reality with a single resolution makes itself felt. The borderline between the domains of reality and what is outside of reality often amounts to no more than a pliable, gelatinous zone: the corridor of uncertainty, precariousness, indefinitude. In the space of life expanded artificially, new borders arise, engendered by the relativity of the technical possibilities. Man already finds her/himself faced with two coinciding walls: the borders of reality and the borders of the technical reality. Albeit s/he forced open the former in order to render the world limitless. This is one of the central paradoxes of our modern age.

It would appear that it is precisely this dilemma, inflated into a philosophical problem, that represents the leitmotif of Eike's (1966) (video-)installations produced over the past ten years, as well as his other works, not on view in this exhibition. The electronic resources of our age present a labyrinth at the same time, and it is within this maze that the author moves, scampering between the traps and indulging his playful inclinations. He imports into his artwork the ritual devoid of loftiness of the everyday actions achievable in the everyday living space, but it seems as if the aesthetical potentialities inherent in the idea are what interest him the least. He does not elevate the beautiful, but it is rather the experiential borders of the search for the beautiful that he would like to measure, while he continually dances on the razor's edge. In his work entitled The Golden Cage (2001), for instance, the articulative self-revelation of human body-language and the manipulated operations of the electronic medium examine and respond to each other. In the image field, the dancer demonstrating ritualistic movements perpetually bumps into the picture frame, as if he would be confronted with the obstacle of a real space. Reality runs into virtuality, but it also incessantly ricochets off of it; the corporeal borders of man become one with the borders of visual reality, and human nature fights it out with the nature of the medium. The artwork is elevated to an art-philosophical reflection of universal validity, and it carries within itself the principal features of Eike's ars poetica (he actualises this problematic as well in his light-object entitled Virtuality Machine, among others).

Eike moves along the broad scale of segregated artistic genres, and his store of devices cannot be said to be in the least poor or deficient. In my opinion, he turns toward the realm of problems of contemporary art with an inherent conceptual inclination. He formulates the artistic dilemmas of Homo technicus, undertaking the resolution of logical problems free of emotional displays. His oeuvre evolves in the interstice between conceptual and material constructions, in the interactive sphere, in which man is present rather as an instrument than as an object.

10. April 2002.