About Bird of the year, by Maximilian Schmoetzer
in three different settings.
The 1st time was in a room on the upper level of a museum as part of a group show. The screen was placed in the centre of the room on a carpet, but felt like it was the room. One could step onto that carpet and fall into a screen. For the way people watched it was: Sitting on the carpet + headphones on. I enjoyed that this was happening on the floor and that I had to put my body into a resting position and that the screen did not need a wall, but was sitting there with me. There is an idea of horizontality* embedded: the video seems to be not made for an upright figure, that prioritizes the head (with eyes, mouth and brain) as tool, but for a full body perception. It was working in this group as team player, passively corresponding to other videos by being the only piece in which hints of all other displayed works were to be found.
The 2nd time was a solo screening (“only” artwork in the room) at Ashley in Oranienstraße. I was there for the opening night. The flatscreen was larger this time and the video had undergone some edit changes. In this situation, as in the former, it was playing in a loop. Chronology is a great invention and it can be very enjoyable to have a flexible personal choice about where and if to start and end it. Here the video was totally iconic, a big bright glowing screen in a dark surrounding. Kids staring at it, I’d like to say fascinated or /+ seduced by either image or /+ audio. It seemed healthy that they served beers and had talks in a room separated by a curtain, the qi was good.
Max’s text accompanying Bird of the Year 2022 begins with a mention of Fearless Felix Baumgärtner. I think it is crazy fearless to take about two years for a video piece of 9 minutes. It’s in balance between cryptical, witty and stuffed. I enjoy sentences and paragraphs on their own, like: But this doesn’t attenuate the inevitable gravitational pull of boredom. You start descending and the igneous plasma layer thickens. It is you that is passing gently, silently, unnoticed through the rarefied exosphere, dipping into the digital nebula. And then out again. But I realize I do not want this text on top of this video or any video. It could stand as it’s own man and by that gain as much as the video would gain sexiness from missing it. I am wishing for a modesty of words to make me desire to personally start dealing with a possible complexity inherent in the video. I have the feeling that there was an artist’s lack of trust in the viewer taking the piece on its own seriously enough.
Now I am watching it in the setting of me in front of a computer screen. I feel strangely on eye level with it as if talking back and forth. That has something to do with leisure consumption and being in control of the remote. This version’s title is preliminary material for 2022. That allows me to glimpse through a crack in the eggshell but not touching the Bird.
I have tried explaining to people before, why the video has hit me. I can’t get away from “choreography”. I think what it is, that makes me feel is the “choreography” of sounds and how they are fused with the visual. He composed a Gestalt of many (in parts debatable) elements, but combined they’re more than their sum. For example: Black screen while hearing legs walking inside of a thick full body (Astronaut?) suit and then a white gloved hand that my head links to the legs picks up a gas pump seemingly made out of ice. And what would things be without funny. I sense a joke about F B’s “attempt to transcend human limits that have existed for 50 years” when in the video the Red Bull sponsored Free Fall capsule, wearing sneakers, smoothly shaking its hips is singing I’ve been thinking bout dick a lot lalala. Or a well placed little break introduced with “meanwhile” in the middle of a dinosaur, well supported audio instructions of some sort. This sort of breaking the smoothness happens a couple of times while other super smooth transitions make this a homogenous whole.
The number 2022 appears to me as the watermark of this video. It would be nice to believe one is authorized to dream up scenarios and just place them in an arbitrary year. A reccurring bg swooshing makes 2022 physical. Hearing this, I am thrown in an engine room, where walls and machines are in flux and production as much as consumption seems irrelevant. The advertisement and trial of sneakers happens. Well, buy them or not. As far as I have come to understand the concept of Base Materialism I find it materialized here. For me Bird of the year is suggesting a resolving of hierarchies based on high&low, cool&uncool, skill&noskill. This level of instability of categories reminds me of the tumblr of Eetu Sihvonen that my Bf sent me yesterday.
In any of the 3 settings, I was not left out while watching. One is in it, on it, can relate. A “lyrical Us instead of a lyrical I”. Common (in the good) sense? I watch this and put my own romantic projection onto it, i.e. the facing of a Go Pro and a film camera on a crane circling around each other to the crinkly sound of fire. It is hard to tell what was first, the image or the emotion which was possibly created by the happenings up through this point. Like when you are dreaming, feelings exist before the images and incidents that the brain comes up with to illustrate the emotion.
Maybe this is a teaser of a documentary about the digital tropopause. It hints to more than this . It could become a digitally tainted nomadic odyssee of a little bit beyond contemporary red riding hood, leaving paths constantly while not being wolfed for it. I can imagine the expansion of this mini journey while I think: 9:18 min that’s cool. I like that the tension of potential can be sufficient sometimes.
Text: Sarah Rosengarten
(1-3) Maximilian Schmoetzer, „Bird of the Year 2022“, Ashley Berlin, 2016. Installation view
* term borrowed from Rosalind Krauss