born in Düsseldorf, Germany
Studies at Staatliche Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, Germany
Masterstudent under Prof. Klaus Rinke
Film-maker and cameraman as a freelancer for artistic short movies, feature films, coverage
Development and design of virtual realities; computer-assisted image formation and production of bespoke software
"Found ă Mentalism II", Museum St. James Cavalier, La Valetta, Malta
"Die große Kunstausstellung NRW", museum kunst palast, Düsseldorf
"Experminentelle 20", Kulturzentrum Sternen, Thayngen, Schweiz
"re_form", Ostrale, Dresden
"Orbital Explorer", Volkstheater Rostock, Rostock
"Orbital Explorer", Kulturforum Alte Post, Städtische Galerie, Neuss
"Experminentelle 19", Maison de la Région, Strasbourg, Frankreich
"Chronochrome die Farben der Zeit", Graf von Westphalen, Düsseldorf (E)
"67. Jahresausstellung", Kulturforum Alte Post, Städtische Galerie, Neuss
"Mission O14", Ostrale, Dresden
"Experminetelle 18", Galerie Titus Koch, Schloss Randegg
"Fotografie", Kunstsalon Flingern, Düsseldorf
"Beuysland ist abgebrannt", Kunstverein Speyer, Kulturhof Flachsgasse, Speyer
"Die Grosse Kunstausstellung Nrw Düsseldorf 2013", Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf
"65. Jahresausstellung", Kulturforum Alte Post, Städtische Galerie, Neuss
"Weltuntergang" - Jahresausstellung, Künstlerverein Malkasten, Düsseldorf
"Butterflöckchen", Galerie Peter Tedden, Düsseldorf
"Duesseldorf Photo Weekend", Galerie Voss, Düsseldorf
"Die große Kunstausstellung NRW", museum kunst palast, Düsseldorf
"Die große Kunstausstellung NRW", museum kunst palast, Düsseldorf
"63.Jahresausstellung", Städtische Galerie, Neuss
"Ostrale O10", Dresden
"62.Jahresausstellung", Städtische Galerie, Neuss
"Unter freiem Himmel", Botschaft am Worringer Platz, Düsseldorf
"Wasserfarben", Galerie Voss, Düsseldorf
"Wasser auf dem Mars", Malkasten, Düsseldorf
„ChronoChrome: Die Farben der Zeit“, Arte Giani, Frankfurt
„Zero-Gravity-Zone“, museum kunst palast, Düsseldorf
„Auftakt“, Galerie Voss, Düsseldorf (G)
"Artscapes", Kunstverein Lingen
„Erträumte Räume“, Arte Giani, Frankfurt
„Collectorscapes“, Galerie Voss, Düsseldorf
„runningMARS“, PAN Kunstforum Niederrhein, Emmerich a.R.
„Leonids Freiheit“, Kunstort Bunkerkirche, Düsseldorf
„Studioscapes“, Galerie Voss, Düsseldorf
„because I have got eyes in back of my head“, Schirmer Hof, Düsseldorf
„Galleryscapes“, Galerie Voss, Düsseldorf
„Saldo“ Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf
Participation in international art fairs:
Art Brussels, Brüssel (B)
Art Frankfurt, Frankfurt a. M.
Art Cologne, Köln
photo Miami (USA)
Light and Time in Kay Kaul's Photographs
by Thomas W. Kuhn
Like no other natural medium, water lends itself perfectly to making an elemental phenomenon such as light visible. And no other artistic medium surpasses photography in its ability to capture light – whether by the traditional, chemical method or by means of digital electronic data processing. In addition, the speed of film photography is superior to the slow reactions of the eye in capturing and conveying motion and thus time. This is precisely what films have been doing for over 100 years.
One of the most daring experiments in modern art was the depiction of time not by means of photographic film, but as a continuous sequence of images. This experiment has since been linked to Futurism. The members of this movement such as Umberto Boccioni and Giacomo Balla – radical artists in many respects – condensed a rapid sequence of movements into one single image as if they had placed several photographic sequential studies by Eadweard Muybridge on top of each other.
Some time earlier, it was the Impressionists who devoted their artistic attention to light and experimented with different techniques for capturing this ephemeral phenomenon. It was no coincidence that the venue for their first joint exhibition was provided in 1874 by Gaspard-Félix Tournachon – better known under his pseudonym Nadar, one of the great photographic pioneers.
Light and time are also the motifs of the current photographic works by Kay Kaul who has experimented with the possibilities offered by photography since the beginning of his artistic career. Even his earliest visual experiments are more than just precisely executed studies; they are detailed and coherent artistic compositions. The almost classical structure of his works makes observers virtually oblivious to the element of the sensational in his images as he refrains from using the sometimes extreme compositional effects of the Impressionists and Futurists.
In his first photographic projects in the late 1970s, Kay Kaul explored the possibilities of representing three-dimensional objects and spatial arrangements using analogue equipment. In these projects he used the stereoscopic method developed in 1838 by Charles Wheatstone and applied to photography as early as 1849 by David Brewster. In addition, Kaul created a number of films, among them “metal love” from 1980, providing a concrete insight into his use of technical equipment which plays a constitutive role in his artistic work. “Metal love” is a six-minute feature using cuts and image sequences to interpret a mechanical manufacturing process as a love act. This film combines the playfully subtle and ironic use of technology with the fascination for the range of possibilities of expression it offers. In that respect the film is reminiscent of Fernand Léger's “Ballet Mécanique” from 1924 and Fritz Lang's “Metropolis” from 1927.
Later, in the 1980s and 1990s, Kay Kaul systematically explored the creative possibilities offered by digital computer technology and subsequently replaced his analogue equipment with high-definition digital cameras.
Among the works which result from these studies are his interiors which have a thematically tripartite structure. They can be characterised as “roomscapes” and describe the progression of a work of art from its production and distribution to the customer. The three stages are the “studioscapes”, then the “galleryscapes”, and finally the “collectorscapes”. Apart from providing a view of these places of living and working – a view which is anything but voyeuristic - which were sensitively described and put in their art historical context in Blazenka Perica's catalogue text from 2004 – these works show an extremely high degree of technical precision. Both the photographs of a total of 12 room-segments, each shot at an angle of 30 degrees, and the computer-aided merging of these individual images to form a seamless panorama testify to this precision.
This technical precision is also a vital precondition for his current photographs which may be classified as landscape photography. Technically speaking, they are works each composed of six photographs shot in rapid succession. Each of these shots was digitally filtered – on the one hand using the basic colours red, green and blue of the additive colour spectrum as on a TV screen, and on the other hand using the subtractive colour spectrum used in colour prints, namely yellow, magenta and cyan. As a result, each individual image representing moments taken in quick succession has a different colour value. In the subsequent editing process, the six filtered images are positioned precisely one upon the other. All the areas which were static while the sequence was being shot regain their original colour values in this process, while the areas where the movement of water resulted in changes are characterised by shimmering iridescence, not unlike the prismatic effect of a rainbow. It is precisely this prismatic kaleidoscope of colours which captures the passing of time. Light and time are revealed by the natural medium of water and subsequently by the medium of photography.
The various different images created using this technique also reveal the multitude of manifestations of water in natural environments. One of the first photographs shows the river Rems in Swabia, its surface gently ruffled by a light swell. The waves spread upwards, their strength decreasing, in parallel lines from the bottom right edge of the picture. Below the surface, the light is very well reflected by eddies and the air bubbles they contain, while on the surface, the light is mainly reflected by the troughs of the gentle waves facing the camera. The filtered colours reflect the movement both along the crests of the waves and in stripes which appear between the troughs and the crests. The wave, a seemingly simple natural phenomenon, is revealed as an amazingly complex structure in Kaul's work. A wide variety of different manifestations of waves are presented – ranging from intersecting waves with white crests near Oostkapelle on the North Sea, to the Rhine near Düsseldorf shimmering like gold in the evening sun, its surface turbulent as if churned by some vibration emanating from the depths. One image gives a vividly detailed picture of the River Düssel, which resembles a mountain stream as it cuts through the Neandertal valley, while another shows the profound serenity of a pond in the Düsseldorf Volksgarten. It is only in the latter picture that human intervention plays a role. A stone thrown into the pond has caused ripples which spread slowly in concentric circles. The photographs have in common the fact that they focus on the surface of the water without showing vegetation or details of the shore or bank. Each picture shows particular colour effects which highlight the highly individual character of the different stretches of water.
Occasionally, some areas of the surface of a stretch of water are not moving, but are still and remain static during the brief duration of the exposure so that they reflect the light in the familiar way. Other pictures include elements of the surrounding area which also remain static, and thus their colour values are in line with our everyday perceptual experience. These static areas may consist of vegetation at the edge of the water, river banks or rocks. Such elements feature in photographs as diverse as those of the small river Düssel with its rapids, and the boulders and cobbles over which the water flows, and the great falls of the Rhine at Schaffhausen. In both cases, the observer is confronted with a peculiar phenomenon: the technique used by Kaul makes the most dynamic areas appear exactly as they would to the human eye, namely white. It seems to be a paradox of human visual perception that if there is too much movement, it simply disappears. The effect is comparable to the perception of a patterned hub cap. Initially, as the vehicle accelerates, the pattern accelerates as well. At a certain speed, however, the perceptive faculty of the naked eye fails to see any details and the area becomes diffuse as if it were immobile. There are usually only small areas within these highly dynamic photographs where different colour values reveal that the water is in motion. In one picture, a front-on view of the cascading Rhine Falls, it is only a delicately iridescent mist hovering over the foaming, turbulent waters, a prismatic light, which might be visible to the naked eye if, under ideal conditions, it were refracted in such a way as to become visible from the position of the observer.
These works with their landscape details are almost classical in their pictorial composition and are reminiscent of traditions in European landscape painting and also of Asian art, which, from the mid-19th century onwards or even earlier, opened up new perspectives and sensitized European artistic perception. The places depicted are also reminiscent of topics and motifs in art history. Gustave Courbet and Johannes Brahms relaxed at the Geroldsau waterfalls at Baden-Baden and Kaul's Rhine shimmers like the hoard of gold of the Nibelungs. Before its partial destruction as a result of limestone quarrying in the 19th century, the Neandertal valley was a magnet for a host of painters from Düsseldorf who took the short trip so that they could work on landscape studies for paintings depicting mountain areas without having to go to the trouble of travelling to the Alps.
One picture shows a relatively small detail of a landscape and epitomises the artistic possibilities of Kay Kaul's technically unusual photography. This detail shows a small rapid in the riverbed of the Endert, a stream in the volcanic area of the Eifel hills, largely untouched by human activity. The camera looks straight down on to the surface of the water that flows past a boulder on the right. At the bottom of the picture we can see a small branch dipping down into the water with tiny ripples produced by the current radiating out wedge-shaped away from it. The surface of the water appears to be covered by a dense, multicoloured mesh of lines. In some areas the water reflects the light, in others it illumines the riverbed. At the higher section of the rapids, the current flows faster until it reaches the white turbulence from which a fine greenish shimmering mist rises. The stark contrast between solid and liquid matter, static and moving forces creates a work which represents both a brief moment in time (or rather, a rapid sequence of moments), and a contemplative space beyond time. Thus Kaul's images are not a hybrid blending of incongruous aspects of the physical world, but rather a unity which comprises different aspects and which Kaul has visualised aesthetically with almost scientific precision.