Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Between Chaos and Order: Marcus Neustetter at AOP

Marcus Neustetter is an explorer. Not quite in the old-fashioned maritime sense, which saw men setting sail to discover and map unknown lands, but in the sense that he is fixated with mapping territory and the chasm between experience and objective reality. This obsession has seen him attempt to map the familiar (Joburg), the foreign (Banff, Canada), the historical (Vela Spila, Croatia), and the intangible (the Northern Lights).

Unlike the explorers of yesteryear, Neustetter isn’t interested in trying to accurately chart the places he visits.
When he began this artistic adventure over four years ago, he looked to technology, specifically Google earth maps, in an attempt to identify an objective rendering of space. When he juxtaposed these digital readings with photographs of places, it was clear the maps were out of sync with the realities on the ground. This led him to develop a novel form of map-making that could be best described as detached abstraction. Here is how it works; Neustetter makes marks on paper that relate to a space, without describing its physical characteristics. In fact he pays no attention to the drawing he makes – hence they are cluttered with random forms, mostly lines.

They are drawings but also maps – more like deconstructed maps where the lines have been pulled apart, atomised and randomly placed on the page in a chaotic manner. These map-drawings follow no logic and are meaningless as they are meaningful, for they do chart something significant: Neustetter’s experience of being in a space. He never views his drawings until they are complete. He does this by drawing in a book with the cover closed. In this way he maintains the supposed objectivity that is meant to define map making. It also ensures that he is not distracted from the experience of travelling through a particular space. Consequently Neustetter is an explorer interested in the sensory act of exploring.