| Between East & West, 1991
2 lightboxes, 2 etched glass panels
installation on the theme of information exchange during the Cold
War, with computer generated images produced by surveillance image
processing algorithms. Image generating software were initiated
through collaborative actions with a programmer in Hungary, near
the end of the Socialist era.
In the spring of 1989 I contacted a scientist
in socialist Hungary to transform a mathematical equation into a
computer program that would generate textures as seen in the background
of these lightboxes. These types of mathematical equations have
normally been used in surveillance to enhance photographic resolution.
I returned to budapest in August 1989 to retrieve the completed
program. A week later, the Hungarian Communist government authorized
the release of the first wave of East Germans waiting at the Hungarian,
Austrian border, to the West against official East German demand,
a political action that initiated the disengagement of the Central
European satellite countries from the Soviet bloc.
In the center of each image stands a long rectangular
panel that looks like a metallic nameplate. Constructed in computer
memory on a digital system used by network television to produce
their news logos, the plates were assigned the reflecting properties
of chrome on which images from a video I made in Budapest*
were "projected" mathematically. The viewer would not
be able to decipher what the plates reflected, but because of our
general familiarity with the photographic image, the blurred shapes
do read as photographic and therefore imply the authority associated
with photographic representation.
The two glass panels situated betwen the two lightboxes
contain two sets of information. One has keywords related to my
history having lived on both sides of the East/West political divide,
the other panel has two dates inscribed separated by a "fast
forward" sign as seen on electronic audio-visual machines.
The first date corresponds to the year of the Hungarian Revolution
at which time my family left. The second when the Berlin wall came
down. Both dates represent significant moments for reflection in
terms of my personal history. I wonder what my life would be like
if the time between these dates were compressed into a single day.
*On September 13, 1988, I participated in Budapest, in the first demonstration
to be tolerated by the officials of Socialist Hungary. Approximately
eighty thousand marchers, including a strong turnout of the Austrian
Green party, were protesting the ecologically unsound Nagymaros/Danube
hydroelectric works. The project was engineered by the Soviet Union,
which contracted with Austrian firms for its construction on Hungarian
and Czechoslovak territories.