Jiří Pátek about Mechanical viewer exhibition, 2016

Jiří Pátek about Mechanical viewer exhibition, 2016

A copy, or replication of a model in an infinite series, is one of the determining features of our civilization. It is so much so, that we essentially fail to perceive it. And if we do, then only indirectly, through various analyses assessing the productivity of the replication systems in relation to their social impact. Historically, photography is one of the first members of the family of technologies which heralded the advance of the modern age. However, by its ability to relay a faithful picture of the outside world in time and space it transcends all of those systems. It has something of a magical superstructure which – probably to a greater extent than we like to admit – influences how we perceive photographic images, the way we think about them, and how we use them. Ondřej Přibyl’s project turns to photography as a phenomenon which is not matter-of-fact. In this it follows in the footsteps of earlier attempts to update the image of the photographic medium which has regularly resurfaced since the interwar period. Nevertheless, Přibyl’s aim is not to understand the essence of the medium and resuscitate discussion of its social functions. Rather he is aware that we are at the end of its classic era. As a result he also dares to do what his predecessors in photographic theorizing were not allowed to do – create artificial situations. At the end of the 1960s the cult media theorist Marshall McLuhan came up with the statement that part of the content communicated to us is the medium itself through which it reaches us. On a general level, he contested ideas from the Enlightenment period that what we see is an analogy of what we know. Within the framework of his concept Ondřej Přibyl simulates situations which do not correspond with the stereotypes controlling our reception of the photographic image. He connects and juxtaposes different technologies, depicted subjects or by-products of the photographic imaging process, which could hardly meet in standard situations. On the one hand, he thus intensifies the mysteriousness of what is presented: discrepancies in experiencing time and space, which are inherent in photography, are given a new order. On the other hand, he manages to provoke the viewer into rational thinking about how the interdependence of technology and content of what he presents to us works.