Vytautas KumžaAbout

We won’t fade into Info

The exhibition Smeared States explored the condition of mimicry as a strategic appropriation rather than a mere camouflage. “We won’t fade into” was commissioned by Showroom MAMA and responds to the theme of the show by problematizing the illusion of depth and the glossiness of the surface through an exploration of urban advertising scenes. The work was compiled by collecting different gestures from the city; (un)expected artistic expressions, amateur workarounds and diy-solutions for presenting photography. In four aluminium displays, the photographic images bring to the foreground the visual noise (tags, stickers, graffiti) that often covers advertisements found in urban spaces. The photography itself is staged to simulate the way corporate advertising aestheticizes mundane objects and everyday scenes. The installation of the work alludes to spaces of transition; lobbies, airports as well as subway and train stations, by mimicking their architecture. The installation disguises the banality of the content of advertising by the added playful interventions on the surface of the screens. The piece makes the construction of the photographic stage visible bringing the background forwards while concealing parts of the foreground. The work complicates the relationship between flatness and three-dimensionality by bringing to the surface the artificial nature of what we often consider as natural or normal. The piece urges one to excavate their gaze and notice the interventions that infiltrate urban advertising making evident how the noise is absorbed within the images themselves.

Supported by Lithuanian Council for Culture, Showroom MAMA

Half empty, Half full Info

The exhibition showcases a range of work that focuses on creating embodied experiences with the use of presentation displays and sculptural spatial elements. The photography is staged with tools and objects already present within the studio as a way to limit the content but also find unusual ways to reinvent it. The images, already layered in their production, get further obscured through the use of elaborate displays. Perforated wooden wall panels act as the background for some photographs while chewing gum-like grey corners made out of clay create DIY frames for others. Threading the fine line between trompe-l'œi and fine art photography the work creates deceitful constructions that provoke and perplex. The subject of the photographs as well as the enigmatic installation oscillates between absurdity, encryption and transcription, antagonizing the functionality that undercuts the way photography is presented. Photographs are not just flat pieces of paper that exist up against a wall. Photographs are objects, and they’re tucked in the corner of the mirror in your bedroom, they are inside your wallet or shoved in the insides of books. Photographs are objects that exist in relationship to other objects. That’s why photography is not a single act, but can be seen more as a chain of decisions starting with the idea and ending with the form of presentation, often exposing the craftsmanship behind each image.

Don’t fall in love with a prop Info

The work “Don’t fall in love with a prop” was commissioned by Unfair’18 and featured a collaboration with the poet Maria Barnas. The resulting poem was designed and printed by designer Eduardo Leon in the form of a notepad with removable pages for the visitors to take home. The work was inspired by a chapter in a beginner’s guide to photography called ‘Don’t Fall in Love with a Prop’ and operates as a visual how-to-guide for the viewer. The exhibition simulates DIY instructions for making a photographic studio in an amateur environment, suggesting various techniques, tips and tricks to construct the space and the tools. Some of the gadgets reimagined in the photographs only serve a speculative aesthetic function rather than being utilitarian photographic tools themselves. With the use of didactics, object repetition, and subverting the objects’ functionality, the visitor is invited in a makeshift studio space made by a series of fictional and often dysfunctional props. The work is a response to the ubiquity of seamless digital images and the heavy reliance of photography on image rendering and post-production. The work appropriates tools, techniques and themes of commercial photography in unorthodox ways, exposing their mechanics. The situations constructed problematize the limitations of photography as a medium by making visible the artificial nature of its staging. By revealing what lies behind the scenes, the work both exposes but also celebrates the tentative process of the construction of photographic imagery.

Tricks and Trade secrets Info

This series is a part of “Tricks and Trade secrets”, photographs that create enigmatic constructs, which both deceive our eyes and invite us to decipher their meaning. Disguised as glossy magazine photos, the images lure the viewer in a world of trickery and encryption by obfuscating the subjects in a variety of ways. With the use of simulacra, visual illusions, extended displays, and use of distorted scales the photographs re-imagine otherwise mundane and familiar objects. The work focuses on interventions in everyday situations that result in the manipulation of the physical, temporal and aesthetic laws of the subjects within the images. The resulting three-dimensionality of the images is carefully constructed through flat imagery that appear multi-dimensional either through overlay of layers or manual manipulation of their surfaces. The objects within the photos are being obscured, twisted, folded and blurred confusing the viewer’s gaze. These simulations create a space of suspension in which the beholder can only linger and experience the present moment. By provoking the performativity of depth and surface both in the way three-dimensionality is constructed as a series of flatnesses, and in the misleading interplay of background and foreground within images, the installations beckon: ‘Look. Yes, look again, and longer this time.’ The imagery includes interruptions in landscapes and logic, ironic reversals of the expected, illusion and magic reminding the audience that they are indeed looking at a photograph, and not at the thing being photographed.

Tust it, Use it, Prove it Info

“Trust it, use it, prove it” examines the differences between functional objects and their use as a mere aesthetic backdrop within the industry of photography. The content of the images is inspired by promotion homeware catalogues that often represent the image of a perfect life. The objects of the photographs are created from flat images themselves, turning them from two dimensional to three-dimensional through overlays and surface manipulations that blend the images together. The spaces represented in the final photos appear three-dimensional and real while in reality they operate as a mere scenography. The large-scale canvases that are hanging from the ceiling show flattened representations of overlaid cut-outs from homeware store promotion material and printed advertisements. The gallery features also a series of small sculptures that utilize the same flat raw material but folded, bended and structured as three-dimensional, through manual manipulations. The subjects of the photos as well as the small-scale sculptures become props from a film that was never made —appearing real while serving no actual function. The content of the images becomes less important than the way they are produced, creating a fragile balance between the three-dimensionality simulated by the position of the camera and the flatness of the subjects. By juxtaposing sculpture with images, the work highlights similarities between genres and points to structural parallels between outside and inside, organic and inanimate, natural and artificial.