Statement #05 | Ulrich Nausner — The Visitor

Performance, June 27, 2019, 7 pm
Duration approx. 20 minutes

Our analogue world is closely linked to the internet, which at once bundles and fragments knowledge—a kind of digital memory that is available to us as a matter of course, anytime and anywhere, for obtaining information and disseminating that same information. As we search in virtual space using machines that work according to algorithms, the meanings and attributions of audiovisual, textual, and other content change according to which context we click on. Based on a search for such changing contexts of meaning, Ulrich Nausner sorts and arranges text collections available online using certain criteria and then organizes them according to his own dramaturgical principles in his performance The Visitor. The artist’s abstraction processes render the found text corpuses undecipherable. Nausner thus literally and figuratively draws an abstract portrait of the respective term, now freed from the specific graphic elements of the internet. This raises questions about the presence and absence of information and how it can be captured.

Taking his text-based series Hypertext Drawings as his starting point, Nausner has developed new works for Kunstraum Lakeside that lay bare today’s routine process of searching and finding information on the internet while editing and restructuring it in various directions. Three essential elements that shape this activity are the text editor as tool, the simplified search screen, and monochrome areas that alert the eye to linked information in the text—hyperlinks—through a specific hue. These are contrasted with comprehensive online research, which is edited live during the performance and deconstructed as an audio play, whereby the media conditions for this search are exhausted along a variety of trajectories.

The main content of this online research and thus of Ulrich Nausner’s work is the word “visitor.” The artist interrogates the sovereignty of definition over this term and the various contexts of meaning in which it circulates on the web and beyond. Starting from a single word, different thematic fields such as exhibition and museum visitors, visitors’ areas, visitor guidance systems, and other attributions show us varied possibilities of interpretation both within and outside the art field. On the basis of his search in virtual space, Nausner frees the found texts and text fragments from all web-specific elements, transforming them and finally presenting them to us as an audio performance.

Ulrich Nausner (b. 1980 in Austria) lives and works in Vienna.


Ulrich Nausner, Untitled (the visitor) #1, 2019