[ 0100 ]

Resolution Dispute 0100 : Scaling as Violence
[[part of Resolution Studies]]

[ 0100 ]

Knowledge of the hidden and knowledge of the measurable What happens when something exist outside the dimensions or system units of scale? In order to distinguish something of significance from its background environment we must first be able to perceive it. If it remains invisible, inaudible, intangible, or unmeasurable it remains indiscribable and therefore unknowable at least to most of us.

- Graham Harman on OOO objects.

[or: Distances from and behind the screen]
Scale, aspect ratio, size, frequency.


Arts Collide International :: Shadow Knowledge
I am so thankful and excited to win the incredible Collide International award and residency. I can't wait for my time at Cern and Fabra i Coats, its more than a dream come true. It means so much to me and for my research to obtain acknowledgement from these institutions.
The first part of my residency will start really soon, already in a couple of weeks, and I am planning to post little updates, so please subscribe to Resolution Updates if you are interested!  

About Shadow Knowledge:
Shadow Knowledge is a research into how to perceive the shadows; the fringes of what is enlightened (or not in the dark) but also knowledge of what exists in the shadows....

Discussions about what is "real" are often fuelled by the use of terms like “hyperreal”, “fake” or "alternative facts". As a result, the 2010s have become a very interesting decennium for images of "reality". As it turns out Standard Models need extensions, fields of knowledge can scale and vision can reach beyond the unseeable. Take for instance the discovery of the Higgs boson particle (2012) or the capturing of the shadow of a black hole (2019) - these are examples of when science and imagination cross and together shatter norms previously thought of as 'universal realities'.
Even for the laymen, realities should now finally be understood as complex and multiple. And because of this, we need space for Shadow Knowledge - knowledge derived from objects of unsupported dimension and scale. In the shadows, things lack definition. The shadows offer shady outlines that can function either as vectors of progress or as a paint by numbers.

Statement from CERN:
"According to the jury, comprised of Monica Bello, Arts at CERN, Oriol Gual, director of La Capella in Barcelona, Joana Hurtado, director of Fabra i Coats and Helga Timko, CERN physicist, the winning artist demonstrated a sophistication of concept and approach. Menkman’s topic focused on the idea of resolution, which resonates with CERN’s quest to perform research from the smallest to the largest scale. They found Menkman’s argument about the significance and purpose of scientific measurement and how information is filtered in and out of an experiment inspiring."

Commissioned by Sonic Acts and ESA (European Space Agency) as part of the Vertical Cinema program.

About the Vertical Cinema project
What we usually identify as the indisputable ‘temple of film’, the Cinema, is not really a given, especially not in the realm of experimental cinematic arts. Yet this is somehow sidelined in the process of re-thinking the possibilities of cinematic experience, mostly because the architectural frame is already there, if only as a convention established a long time ago within the theatrical arts. Actually, the history of experimental cinema and the art of the moving image suggests that the space might very well be the crucial aspect of the total audiovisual experience – something one should always question and take into consideration when producing a work for audiovisual, sensory cinema.

For the Vertical Cinema project we ‘abandoned’ traditional cinema formats, opting instead for cinematic experiments that are designed for projection in a tall, narrow space. It is not an invitation to leave cinemas – which have been radically transformed over the past decade according to the diktat of the commercial film market – but a provocation to expand the image onto a new axis. This project re-thinks the actual projection space and returns it to the filmmakers. It proposes a future for filmmaking rather than a pessimistic debate over the alleged death of film.

Vertical Cinema is a series of fourteen commissioned large-scale, site-specific works by internationally renowned experimental filmmakers and audiovisual artists, which will be presented on 35 mm celluloid and projected vertically with a custom-built projector in vertical cinemascope.

The programme is made solely for projection on a monumental vertical screen that was first upended in 2013 at Kontraste Festival in Krems, Austria.

About Lunar Storm. 4’15’’ COLOUR; 2013.
The surface of the Moon seems static. Though it orbits the Earth every 27.3 days, with areas of it becoming invisible during this rotation, it is always (visibly or invisibly) above us, reassuringly familiar. The Moon is the best known celestial body in the sky and the only one besides the Earth that humans have ever set foot on.

The Seas of the Moon (Lunar Maria), consisting not of water but of volcanic dust and impact craters, appear motionless to the naked eye. Here, volcanic dust forms a thick blanket of less reflec- tive, disintegrated micro particles. But on rare occasions, beyond the gorges of these Lunar Maria, and only when the lunar termi- nator passes (the division between the dark and the light side of the moon) a mysterious glow appears. This obscure phenomenon, also known as lunar horizon glow, is hardly ever seen from Earth.

Beyond the gorges of the Lunar Maria, the Moon is covered with lunar dust, a remnant of lunar rock. Pummelled by meteors and bombarded by interstellar, charged atomic particles, the molecules of these shattered rocks contain dangling bonds and unsatisfied electric connections. At dawn, when the first sunlight is about to illuminate the Moon, the energy inherent to solar ultraviolet and X-ray radiation bumps electrons out of the unstable lunar dust; the opposite process occurs at dusk (lunar sunset). These electrostatic changes cause lunar storms directly on the lunar terminator that levitate lunar dust into the otherwise static exosphere of the Moon and result in ‘glowing dust fountains’.

official website || Vertical Cinema about

Myopia 2015

[ Wavelets ]
‘Myopia’ (2015)
Myopia (2015)
13x3.5m wall vinyl showcasing wavelets and extruding vectors.
Zooms into the JPG2000 wavelet compression artefacts.

Myopia zooms into the JPG2000 wavelet compression artefacts, created by introducing a line of ‘other language’ into the JPEG2000 file data.

The day before the iRD closed its doors, visitors were invited to bring an Exacto Knife, to cut their own resolution of ‘Myopia’, and mount them on any institution of choice (book, computer or other rigid surface).

Myopia (2015)
“No objects, spaces, or bodies are sacred in themselves; any component can be interfaced with any other if the proper standard, the proper code, can be constructed for processing signals in a common language.” - Donna Haraway’s A Cyborg Manifesto (1985). Link pg. 32

Its a late, clear night during the Winter of 2016. From the porch of my little cabin in the Mojave Desert I observe strange lights in the air. They are floating along the mountain rims, 30 kilometres up North. Its not the first time that there, in the distance and above a simulation village some name ‘little Baghdad’, I see the military test their new strange flying machines. At night, I film the lights and record the unexplainable rumblings; the different forms of sound pollution in the otherwise quiet desert. During the day, I drive around, exploring with my binoculars.

I read all of the few magazines in the cabin, issued by CLUI (Center of Land Use Interpretation). They feature research on several military outposts ranging from nuclear test villages in Nevada to the USAF-51 Aerial photo calibration targets. And it is then when I feel no longer like a lost visitor in the desert. The desert, the military and I are connected by our research in resolutions.

This Google maps screenshot depicts a slab of concrete displaying an original USAF-51 resolution target, a two-dimensional optical artefact that was used for the development and calibration of aerial photography, following a measurement sometimes refered to as Ground Resolved Distance.
The resolution of an aerial photograph can be described as “a GRD > 0,5 m;” meaning that objects of 0,5m or larger can be detected or interpreted from the image in question. Smaller objects presumably will not be resolved and, therefore, are not interpretable.

The history of these targets is shrouded in mystery and their locations are hard to track down. Even CLUI (the Center for Land Use Interpretation) in LA had no information about their location for me. During a long Google Maps stumble session, I suddenly roll over the coordinates of one of the huge slabs of concrete. Surprisingly, its location is rather close: a 3hrs drive North West of the cabin, East of the Mojave Base ‘Fort Irwin’. Its a pilgrimage that needs to be prepared - its not clear if the dirt roads leading to the lonesome, decommissioned slab of concrete are maintained. But the slab of obsolete technology speaks to me: it is the first physical embodiment of my research.

︎ corona test targets near Casa Grande @google maps



Decalibration Target

A DCT resolution target for decalibration, in the Mojave Desert.

Inspired by the USAF-51 Resolution Target, I wish to build a Decalibration Target. Located in the Mojave Desert, in line with the locations of the orginal USAF-51 test patterns West of the Black Mountain Wilderness and East of the Edwards Air Force Base. 

But instead of featuring a USAF-51 resolution pattern, the target will carry a message for decalibration, written in DCT (Discrete Cosine Transform). By doing so, the work that will tie together different parts of an Ecology of Compression Artefacts. 

In time, the target will be documented by Google Earth, a documentation that I welcome as part of the work.

The project will reach over the boarders of the digital art, as it combines many of parts of our daily life (military, art, Google navigation). The project aims to bring together these institutions, to instigate possible conversation. At the same time, the project reflects on practices of 1960s and 1970s land art, which were never build to visit, but just to be referenced as a photo in a catalogue, and frames these tradition within a contemporary framework.

Background writing / research:
▚▛ On resolution
▚▛ On racial bias in resolution test cards

Related artworks:
▚▛ On file formats
▚▛ On the JPEG compression
▚▛ On DCT
▚▛ An Ecology of Compression Complexities

Proposal for a solo show.
- possible Decalibration Target
- video on color test cards [letting Lena talk]
- Release of Beyond Resolution catalogue  
- prints of an Ecology of Compression Ecologies

mock up of the Decalibration Target.

Whiteout in AXIS

︎ read: PDF Essay as published by Photoresearcher

Whiteout is based on an essay of the same title, originally written for AXIS (a project by Mario de Vega in collaboration with Rosa Menkman, 2019)

Whiteout is inspired by my time during the CERN Collide, our climb of the Brocken and a voyage on board of a ship of the Chilean army to Antartica.

In Whiteout, I tell the story of an exhausting hike during a snowstorm. As we makes our way up the mountain, I experience the loss of physical sensations - leading to an inability to see, hear, or orient myself. The spatial dimensions that were at first seemingly wiped out, seem oversaturated and start to offer themselves in new ways.

What does it mean to navigate a grey, dimensionless space?

To move without visual or auditory references or to physically plot a course when there is no conventional sense of direction or even horizon?

To feel oversaturated, by a lack of anything?

    ░▒▓▓▒▒░▓██ ᴿᴱᴬᴸᴵᵀᵎᴲS ᴯᴭʎᴼᴻᴰ ᴿᴱSͦᴼ̥̥̥̥̥ᴸᵁᵀᴵᴼᴻ ██▓▓▒▒░░



█ █     █   █ A CONFUSION OF DEPTH

[ᴿᴱᴬᴸᴵᵀᵎᴲS ᴯᴭʎᴼᴻᴰ ᴿᴱSͦᴼᴸᵁᵀᴵᴼᴻ]

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The sound starting from around minute 9 is from a live performance recording by Mario de Vega.

Some of the footage is also taken by him during our shooting of AX15.

The stroboscopic images are all from the slides of the 2 year colloquium “Resolution Studies”, documented here.

Some images of Whiteout in AX15
(a project w/ Mario de Vega)
(a project w/ Mario de Vega) 

PDF Essay as published by Photoresearcher

ARTFORUM write up:
        ´´´†††††††††††††††††††††††░▒ ▒ ▒ ▒▒▒▒▒  

▒▒▒▒▒ ▒ ▒ ▒ ▒▒▒▒

▒ ▒ ▒ ▒▒▒▒▒ ˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙

performative lecture // rendered video // online environment // artist book

About Im/Possible Images

The 2010s have been a very interesting decade for the creation and generation of images of reality and beyond. The discovery of the Higgs boson particle (2012) and the capturing of the shadow of a black hole (2019) are two of the most prominent examples of science and imagination colliding, shattering the lines of what was previously understood as universal reality. It's been a decade during which it became common knowledge that standard models need extensions, fields of knowledge continuously scale up and down and AI is used pervasively to predict not only the future, but also to see beyond the unseeable. What was once deemed impossible, has become possible.

In 2019 I won the Collide at CERN/Barcelona award with my proposal “Shadow Knowledge”, a project about the fringes of what is enlightened (or: not in the dark). Subsequently, I was awarded a two month residency at CERN, with an additional month in its partnering city of science, Barcelona. In my research proposal, I used the shadow as a metaphor: “In the shadows, things lack definition. The shadows offer shady outlines that can function either as a vector of progress or as a paint by numbers.” I proposed research about what can just be seen or sensed, and about how these new and other techniques can be deployed to derive knowledge about objects of unsupported scale and dimension.

In September that year I finally made it to the largest experiment in the world. But upon arrival at CERN I quickly encountered multiple linguistic clashes. Where I, as an artist, like to use poetic phrases such as Shadow Knowledge, communicating this way with members of the scientific community remained difficult. Our use of language did not jive. Pretty quickly, it became clear I had to cross over to a scientific use of language and find a way to communicate that made sense to the scientists there. A challenge compounded due to differences in language between scientific disciplines, methods, and even experiments.

To consider this challenge I sat down with my two scientific partners: Jeremi Niedziela and Rolf Landua.
With their generous help I reframed my research into a single question:

Imagine you could obtain an 'impossible' image
of any object or phenomenon that you think is important,
with no limits on spatial, temporal, energy, signal/noise or cost resolutions.
What image would you create?

(The answer can be a hypothetical image of course!)

During the three months of my residency I asked every scientist I met this question. Not only for them to consider what images are possible or impossible, but also to probe and isolate the mechanics at work whenever a certain type of image (or rendering) is or becomes ‘impossible,’ or similarly, when a method of rendering gets compromised (deleted, discarded or obsolete). This new method of inquiry worked really well; I rapidly collected countless im/possible images in dialogues with scientists, via email, and through an online form set up for this purpose.

The BLOB of Im/Possible Images // Im/Possible 图像的 BLOB  

The COVID pandemic brought an abrupt halt to my research. It cut the time of my residency short as I fled Barcelona just a few days before Spain went into a total lockdown. These rapidly unfolding events made it difficult to consolidate the research I had initiated. Only on the occasion of an online commission from the Haus der
Elektronischen Künste Basel (HEK) - in the frame of the HEK Net Works - during the Summer of 2021, did I find the push to revisit and process the contributions I had collected. I started by compiling all the im/possible images in a single document to create an initial categorization. And it was at this moment I first realized that the collection of im/possible images I had gathered was amazing in its own right.

My collection of images displayed the diverse limits of image processing technologies in existence. I learned that some images are currently impossible due to certain restraints (e.g. money or knowledge), while others will remain impossible due to the laws of physics and the universe itself. As such they will forever exist in the hypothetical realms of our imagination.

Using the virtual exhibition toolkit
New Art City, I installed a selection of my collection of im/ possible images in a low poly rendition that I named the BLOB of im/possible images. In front of the BLOB (a Binary Large OBject), the visitor is welcomed by the Angel of History who points at the BLOB, urging visitors to enter it. A map reminiscing the realms of Compression Complexities is installed next to her, while behind her the Staircase to Nowhere spirals Northward.
The im/possible BLOB as installed at “Temporal Stack: the Deep Sensor” in Guizhou, China. Curated by Iris Long and HE Zike (2021).

The BLOB was built to give a metaphoric ‘shape’ to the space of all images, past and future. Different Axes of Affordance cut the BLOB. These parameters describe the mechanics that define what is resolved and as a result, what is compromised, or in other words, will not be rendered. While in reality, the space of all im/possible images is fragmented, organized by actions and affordances, stacked by the history of image processing technologies, and consolidated in resolutions, the BLOB offers a space where imaginary propositions are possible. In the BLOB visitors can look and think through images as fluid, released from the otherwise rigid settings, resolutions, affordances and compromises.
Visitors can enter the BLOB through a dark round portal, imaging a Shadow of Dark Matter. Upon entering, they are confronted with A Pale Blue Dot that shines from the depths of the universe, while on the right, The Quantum Vacuum at a Slice of Planck Constant Time flickers rapidly. Right next to it, an image of the insides of a proton shows 3 quarks, the tiniest known building blocks of the universe. Normally, these images are impossible, but the hypothetical realms of the BLOB offer pasture to these im/possible renders.

Conjuring the BLOB into the Lothringer 13 Halle.

In the summer of 2021, I was invited by Luzi Gross to conceptualize and curate a physical exhibition of im/possible images at the Lothringer 13 Halle (München). The exhibition was an opportunity to transform the Lothringer into a real space actualisation of the virtual BLOB. In the space of the Lothringer five categories of im/possibility were introduced as parameters or axes of affordances. These axes materialized as architectural elements that physically cut through the rooms of the exhibition halls. But we stopped short of calling the Lothringer a BLOB, instead calling the exhibition the latent space of im/possible images.

In analogue photography, the latent image space exists when photosensitive material has been exposed, but has not gone through a process of development (yet). It is the space that has been touched by light, but that is not showing trace evidence (in the form of an image). The im /possible images show used the term ‘latent image’ as an expanded concept, referring to a hypothetical space that exists before exposure and therefore can still develop every imaginable or unimaginable image.

The main premise of im/possible images is that once any action or decision in the procedure of image processing is initiated, a render parameter is chosen. Following this decision, the parameter operates as a metaphoric cut through the space of everything that can be rendered, dividing it up into images that remain possible, and images that, as a consequence of the decision, are impossible. Effectively, every render setting realizes particular images, while also compromising and complicating others.

In preparation for the show at Lothringer, I went back to my collection of im/possible images. But this time, I did this not to collect images to show, but rather lifted out certain categories I wanted to illustrate via work based in artistic research (as opposed to the mostly scientific illustrations featured in the BLOB).


🔹 Photos from the install here
🔹 My chipmunk-style video walkthrough click here
🔹 Artforum review here

[ white axis ] all possible images

︎Rosa Menkman, BLOB of Im/Possible Images, 3D word, 2021.
Fabian Heller, All possible images [True Color, Full HD], Print on PVC, 18x2 metres, 2021.

The white axis, the axis of all possible images, starts outside the gallery and serves as the entrance into the hypothetical latent image space of Lothringer 13 Halle. The axis features two works; the BLOB of im/possible images and All Possible Images [True Color, Full HD] (2021). The latter, All Possible Images, is an entirely new, commissioned work by Fabian Heller. In All Possible Images, Heller explores the absolute maximal, finite number of possible renders an HD computer screen can display. Given enough time (and screens to render on), any sequence of pixels - or ways to fill up an HD display - will eventually occur somewhere at some moment in the world. However, the number of images that a FullHD screen can render is immense. It stretches beyond understanding at a human scale - and ushers in a scenario reminiscent of Borges’ Total Library and Émile Borels infinite monkey theorem. In an essay in the im/possible images reader Heller therefore concludes that All Possible Images comes with its own impossibilities.
[ red axis ] low fidelity images

︎UCNV, Supercritical, Video installation, 2019.
︎Peter Edwards, Nova Drone, Interactive installation, 2012.

30 meters onwards, the white axis intersects with a red axis named the axis of low fidelity images. This red axis functions as an abstract threshold that exists in the realms of digital rendering technologies, beyond the simple binaries otherwise used to understand whether an image can or can not be rendered and features works by UCNV and Peter Edwards.
Images can be amalgamated rather than consolidated. This means that while image data might be static, the final image render is entirely dependent on the discrete steps of the (lofi) image render pipeline. The works exhibited along this red axis illustrate this. They are examples of images existing as non-static formations, or objects of ambiguous technical interpretation, that explore how technological affordances relate to medium specificity, limitation and erroneous consolidation. For instance, Edwards audio visual synthesizer, the Nova Drone, centers around a LED pulsating at high frequency, translated as image-information by the CCD chip (light capturing chip) that exists in most cell phones. Due to the mis-match in frequency between the light pulse of the LED in the Nova Drone and the speed at which the chip of the phone camera collects and writes away the light, a questionable interpretation appears in the memory - the photo roll - of the phone. Whereas Edwards shows how a mismatch in time resolution by our devices can resolve into beautiful, but erroneous, representations, UCNV illustrates how mechanics play out at the level of pixel resolution. His work Supercritical, also represented in an essay in this reader, demonstrates how changes in quantitative pixel resolution result in ambiguous, fluid data morphing. A mechanism that is taken one step further in Daniel Temkin’s contribution to this reader, a how-to guide titled “Unprintables”, which is a manual for creative quantitative pixel resolution mis-use.
[ green axis ] images based on speculation, dis/belief or imagination


︎Susan Schuppli, Can the sun lie? Video, 2014–2015

︎Sasha Engelmann & Sophie Dyer, Open Weather, Installation & Workshop, 2020-2021
︎Rosa Menkman, Whiteout, video (15 min.), 2020
︎Quote by Ingrid Burrington "forever noon on a cloudless day"
︎NASA basemap of Earth.

A green axis titled images based on speculation, dis/belief or imagination runs almost perpendicular to the red axis. The works installed along this axis show the complex dynamic in images that are presented as evidentiary, truthful or scientific. They illustrate that all processes of image sourcing inevitably inscribe them with values, bias or even faulty interpretations.
One evocative example in the exhibition is the basemap of planet Earth. A map completely devoid of clouds, inhabited by inconsistent shadowing and a blanketing noon time zone - or as Ingrid Burrington rightfully states: on the basemap of planet Earth, it is “forever noon on a cloudless day.” In this reader there are three texts accompanying the green axis. First, a reprint of Susan Schuppli’s formidable essay Can the Sun Lie (2014-2015), in which she shares a striking account of how a system of belief can thwart scientific inquiry. Secondly, the manual for the open weather workshop that was used during the im/possible summer school at the Lothringer. With the help of this manual, one can listen to the NOAA satellites and decode their radio transmission to create a local weather report that goes beyond values of precipitation and temperature, but highlights under-represented values like smog, light or other environmental conditions (of pollution). The axis concludes with “Whiteout”, in which I tell the story of an exhausting mountain hike during a snowstorm and the experience of the loss of my physical sensations - leading to an inability to see, hear, or orient myself. While the spatial dimensions are at first seemingly wiped out, an experience of oversaturation starts to offer the environment to me in new, different imagery ways.
[ blue axis ] chronologies of im/possibility

︎Röntgen, Röntgen photo, print, 1896
︎NASA Voyager / Carl Sagan, Pale blue dot, 1990
︎Medipix, spectroscopic X-ray 2018

A fourth, blue axis titled chronologies of im/possibility foregrounds the temporal dimension connected to im/possibility. Due to the technologies of capture and rendering some images that were once possible, today have become impossible. Whereas some images that are considered impossible today might become possible to create in the future. The blue axis functions as a timeline on which some images move from the possible to the impossible, and vice versa.
[ yellow axis ] new complexities and humanly un/readable images

︎Alan Warburton, RGB FAQ, Video essay (27:38 min), 2020
︎Memo Akten, Learning to See: Gloomy Sunday, HD Video (3:02 min), 2017
︎Rosa Menkman, Shredded Hologram Rose (4:30 min) 2021

Finally, the yellow axis presents new complexities and humanly un/readable images. This axis focuses on new layers of image processing, added since the advent of AI image generation. During the exhibition in the Lothringer Alan Warburtons video essay RGBFAQ, of which the text is reproduced in this reader, was seen in the basement. In RGBFAQ, Warburton asks what the computational image is? Completing the axis are Memo Aktens’ Learning to See (2017) and The Shredded Hologram Rose (Rosa Menkman, 2021).

The Im/Possible Images Reader

I initiated my - still in progress - research on im/possible images with a single question: Imagine you could obtain an 'impossible' image of any object or phenomenon that you think is important, with no limits on spatial, temporal, energy, signal/noise or cost resolutions. What image would you create? (the answer can be a hypothetical image of course!)

The Im/Possible Images Reader represents a moment in my journey to reflect on my progress and constitutes a collection of texts that range from short stories, to image work, manuals, (technical) documentation and essays that I consider to constitute valuable responses to this question. Some of these materials were specifically written for this reader, whereas others have been generously allowed to be reprinted.

The organization of this publication is modular; the chapters can be read independently. Despite this, we chose the order in which we present them for a reason: to provide a consistently additive flow that builds outwards from the five axes of the exhibition.
In conclusion, I would like to stress that after releasing this im /possible images reader, im /possible images will remain an active research platform, which can be visited here: