Kunst udført til dette sted

Origin of Specimen 52v

Ulrik Heltoft

Art on TV

First and foremost, I have used myself, clad in a fake beard, a rubber forehead, and musk oxen hide.

What happens when video art is shown on TV? When artists make video works for TV and other digital media? What happens when a broad audience encounters art in their homes or when they are on the move – when art comes to them and not the other way around?

The Danish Arts Foundation and the Danish Arts Council have gone together with Danmarks Radio (DR) [the Danish Broadcasting Corporation] on the project tvKUNST [tvART]. 14 artists have created a total of 14 video works, and 8 informational films have been made about video art. When they were all shown on the television channel DRK on 16 May 2013, it was the first time in Denmark that so many artists made works directly for national television.


Artist Ulrik Heltoft has answered three questions about his video work and contribution to tvART:

 What thoughts/considerations are behind this work?

I most often work from a linguistic or text-based proposition – as in my photo series "59 Illustrations", where an author gave a private detective oral instructions for a drawing, which was then given to an illustrator, who re-created the drawing. I followed the same set of instructions but produced a photographic and personal interpretation of it. From the same method, I have taken as my starting point for this work/this film the Voynich manuscript, which is one of the world’s unsolved mysteries. The manuscript contains cryptic texts and drawings of plants, among other things. The origin of the manuscript, the text, and the plants is unknown. When I interpret a set of materials, it inevitably implicates my actual personal presence – and that is why I participate as a figure in many of my works. In this film, I play a Neanderthal who apparently discovers one of the mystical plants.

How can the work be seen in relation to your other work?

The film takes its starting point from a series of photographs called "The Voynich Botanical Studies", which I am in the process of making. The photo series portrays 129 unique, fictive plants, and the film takes its starting point in the possible origin of one of these plants. I see the film as an alias, a reference that opens up to "The Voynich Botanical Studies". A little like when you double-click on a text document on a computer’s desktop, so the program opens up in which you can edit and write new documents. In a way, the model or the matrix for the document and the document are hidden in each other and in themselves. If you look closely, you will discover a series of references in the film that draw on earlier and future works.

What materials and/or techniques have you used?

First and foremost, I have used myself, clad in a fake beard, a rubber forehead, and musk oxen hide. And an orchid, a cranium, and a stone axe from the Neolithic Age. That is pretty much it. For the film itself, I have used a number of different techniques. The opening scene is a computer animation that reconstructs Tycho Brahe’s geocentric universe. In the shooting, I used a number of techniques such as high speed takes and slow shutter shots, as well as infrared shots. You normally shoot video at 25 frames per second at a 1/50 shutter speed. If you shoot at high speed – for example, 250 frames per second and play it at normal speed, you lengthen the playing time and get slow motion. If you lengthen the shutter speed, you get a blurry strobe effect. I have used both methods in this film. Infrared shots can "see" outside the human visual spectrum. For example, the light your remote control emits to communicate with your television. Some of the film takes were done with an infrared camera, which I built specially. It is not because you will necessarily notice it directly when you see the film, but it has significance for the film’s mode of expression and helps establish the aesthetics and the mood I want to create.

Title: Origin of Specimen 52v
Department: Kunst udført til dette sted
Object Number: SKFA-KKF110.2012-0028_1
Type: Video
Material: Video, 6:43 min.
Date: 2013


Not available for loan
Can be visited
Read more about the program





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