Die Serie a picture is a camera is a picture thematisiert den fotografischen Abbildungsprozess selbst und stellt diesen in einem Akt dar. Aus Fotopapier baut Mairböck eine Loch-Kamera, ohne jedoch das Loch für die Abbildung von Objekten zu öffnen, sondern um reines Licht einzufangen. Die fertige Fotografie dokumentiert die Anwesenheit von Licht und enthält alle Spuren des fotografischen Prozesses: die Spur des „Objektivs“, die Spuren der gefalteten „Kamera“ und die Spuren der Lichtquellen, dem eigentlichen Foto im üblichen Sinn.


Cubes und tubes, sind Bezeichnungen für unterschiedliche Kameratypen. Ihnen liegt das gleiche Prinzip zugrunde: Bei ihnen fungiert das Loch als Objektiv. Doch während die quadratischen cubes deutliche Spuren der Papierfaltung durch zahlreiche horizontale, vertikale und diagonale Linien aufzeigen, ist in den hochformatigen tubes die Anzahl der Linien stark reduziert und auf die obere und untere Kante beschränkt. 


Bei den Lichtskulpturen handelt es sich um eine Serie von 64 kleinen quadratischen Bildern. Sie repräsentieren den Einfall des Lichtes durch einen kleinen Riss im Silbergelatinepapier. Eine schwarze Fläche legt sich um dieses Öffnung und dokumentiert so die die Länge der Belichtungszeit und die Menge des Lichtes. 


Harald Mairböck wurde 1963 in Ried im Innkreis geboren und lebt und arbeitet als freischaffender Künstler in Wien. Er studierte Philosophie und Ethnologie an der Universität Wien, bevor er sein Diplom für Maschinenbau an der TU Wien ablegte. Nachdem er als Lehrbeauftragter an der Universität und Innovationsmanager in der Industrie tätig war, widmet er sich nun ganz der künstlerischen Fotografie. Seit 2007 finden seine Arbeiten in Ausstellungen in Österreich und Deutschland Anerkennung und Wertschätzung.

The series A Picture Is A Camera Is A Picture deals with the process of photographic reproduction, represented in one act. Mairböck built a pinhole camera out of nothing but photographic paper, aiming not to take pictures of reality but to capture pure light. The image documents the presence of light and includes all traces of the photographic process: the trace of the “objective”, the traces of the constructed “camera” (the creases), and the traces of light sources (light reflecting things) which create the motif in a conventional photograph.


Cubes and Tubes are terms from different camera types. They are based on the same principle: the hole functions as an objective. While the square Cubes are characterized by the horizontal, vertical, and diagonal lines of the folded paper, the vertical Tubes have less lines and a reduced folded structure.


The Light Sculptures present 64 small square photographs. On each picture we see the incidence of light through a slit in the gelatin silver paper. Around the slit there is a black spot that tells us about the time of exposure and the quantity of light during the exposure.


Harald Mairböck was born in Ried (Innkreis) in 1963. He lives and works as a freelance artist in Vienna. He studied Philosophy and Ethnology at the University of Vienna and then Mechanical Engineering at the Technical University of Vienna. After having worked as a lecturer at the University and later as an industrial Innovation Manager, he turned to artistic photography. Since 2007 his art has been exhibited and appreciated in Austria and Germany.


Creatures Emergent


When William Henry Fox Talbot in the 1830’s experimented with photosensitive materials he allegedly wanted to invent a technology for fast, easy and accurate drawing. He wasn’t satisfied with the help of neither of two draftsman’s devices; camera lucida and camera obscura and besides was charmed by the beauty of the images that nature draws itself through the prism or lens. This brought him to eventually produce a number of what he called photogenic drawings of botanical specimens on paper. The technique was later named “rayograph” by Man Ray and “schadograph” by Christian Schad but for a long time is mostly known as “photogram”. Its procedure of direct placing objects on a light-sensitive surface that in the first century after the invention of photography produced images consisting of black, white and subtle greyscale of shades can be compared to photocopying and computer scanning. Improvements in detail, colour and as well reproducibility with all the benefits of devices based on digital technology are obvious but the basic relationship between the world of objects and image remains mainly the same. One major difference that should not be neglected here is the source of light. While at photogram techniques all the light comes from the space to which the objects belong, newer technologies apply the source of light from beneath the surface on which the objects are placed.


Most of Harald Mairböck’s artworks are based on experimenting with the original and direct relationship between light and surface. Sometimes it is not merely a surface but a body built in layers which reveals the relationship between material and light. He works with basic technological means; light, photographic paper and processing chemicals. Even when he builds a pinhole camera, he does it with the photographic paper as building material and its hole is not open to capture the image of objects outside but only pure light. The image after processing is highly dependent on chance and takes an abstract shape, some kind of a dark stain on a white background. Experimenting with basic material: building simple paper cameras, piling up photographic paper sheets and then cutting holes and incisions in it, exposing them to bare light, playing with fluids, all this acts as the artist’s contemplation on photography as medium and shows his interest in looking beyond conventional horizons.


Photography can be regarded as a process through which an image is automatically drawn. Photograph’s autonomy is limited only by the gesture of the photographer, no matter how far conceptually or physically from the execution this person is, and by the material object it represents. By making light in its most radical and pure form as an object, there is nothing that the photograph would represent. It becomes an autonomous thing of a new order that evolves from basic elements and carries its own properties just like in emergentist tradition. Higher state photographic entity at one point partly detaches itself from its creator  and starts existing, living on its own. It somehow resembles  the creature of Dr. Frankenstein who had his own mindset, emotions, and feelings, and yet  remained connected to his creator till the end like a shadow or the subconscious. The artist as a creator has a certain control over creation itself but not over the consequences. These non-representational photographs, stains of light, evolve into creatures that have been unknown until now. The holes and permeable surfaces are like gaps of consciousness through which un-consciousness breaks and slowly takes a stable form that can be recognized and categorized. Because of the photographer’s gesture and his bond with the image this creature is some kind of a photogram of photographer’s subconscious but on the other hand provokes reactions similar to images from a Rorschach test in viewers too.


Vasja Nagy

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