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Otto Beckmann

01. 12. 2021 - 23. 01. 2022


CNL is pleased to present an exhibition by Austrian sculptor, painter, and media artist Otto Beckmann (1908 - 1997).

The works are selected in collaboration with Norbert Palz, who also wrote the introduction below. 

We would like to thank the archive of Otto Beckmann, Richard Beckmann and Dipl.-Ing. Oskar Beckmann.

The here presented works stem from a later period in Beckmann's oeuvre that lasted from the mid 1960ies until the late 1970ies, a phase during which he employed various forms of progressive technologies for his artistic practice.

These photographic re-editions, issued in close collaboration with the Archive Otto Beckmann, are created by a projection of a laser beam deflected from a mechanically treated optical surface. This image carrier (“optisch codierte Karte”) included symbol and words (“lettristische Methode”) undiscernible for the viewer. Shifting the beam’s position to the optical surface released complex variations of the luminous projections to be inspected and either photographically recorded or abandoned.

Beckmann’s interest in technology led to experimental works with early computer graphics, holographic imagery, digital sound technology, and algorithmically generated texts. His occupation culminated with the “atelier computer a.i 70/71”, a self-build analog computer constructed in 1970/71 by his son Oskar Beckmann, a Telecommunications engineer, that allowed an autonomous creation of algorithmic visual representations in 2D and 3D.

The artist’s brief dealing with modern technology was guided by his prior artistic practice, which had engaged with occultism, shamanistic rituals, free-masonry iconography, and dark magic. Beckmann applied late 20th-century technology and mathematics to mediate these older and darker subjects by encoding and triggering a sublime projection field through various interactive and representative interfaces. Beckmann methodically invented these to create works that were largely autonomous from human preconception but could serve as an emergent medium through which transcendental spheres could be tapped into.