Multimedia artist who worked in photography, film, video, installation and computer graphics. Member of the Zero-61 group (1965-1968) and the Film Form Workshop (1970-1977). Born in 1947 in Wrocław, died the 6th of September, 2009 in Łódź.
Multimedia artist, photographer.
In 1981 he began working as a lecturer at the National Higher School of Fine Arts in Poznań, where in 1989 he founded the Computer Graphics and Design Workshop. In 1999 he became associate professor at the Department of Fine Arts of the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń. In 2004 he received from the President of the Republic of Poland the title of a professor of fine arts. Multimedia artist, author of photographs, films, videos, video-installations and computer works. Creator of literature and text-art. Author of advertisements for radio and television. He lived in Łódź.
Wojciech Bruszewski's early works were closely connected to the activity of the Film Form Workshop, a group created by students and graduates of the PWSFTviT higher film school in Łódź that analyzed the film medium. In Bruszewski's case this analysis was conducted especially by researching the connections between the visual and audial components of films.
The film Klaskacz (1971) is an example of his early work. It is a "music video" based on found footage set to George Gershwin's Summertime performed by Janis Joplin. During work on this video clip Bruszewski conducted a series of operations on archival tapes - he changed the tempo and direction of playback, added pauses and repetitions. Image Language (1972) (photographs), created together with Piotr Bernacki, was the first Polish production on videotape. It was an attempt at visualising language by associating letters of the alphabet with corresponding landscape elements (for instance E – a ploughed field). A text based upon Image Language was later created, which was a piece of information about the transport of luggage by the Polish airline LOT. Four cameras and an outside broadcast van were used during the process.
The films Little Spoon (1974) and Pack of Matches (1975) (photographs) were based upon the deliberate division of the visual and audio components, which questioned the thesis that the film technique conveys reality objectively. The first movie registered a spoon hitting a windowsill twenty four times, only every hit corresponded with a sound of a spoon hitting a different object. The second one showed the throwing of a pack of matches at a windowsill, only each time the sound of the matches hitting the windowsill was shifted compared to the image – they were synchronized only in the first and last hit. On the other hand Tap (1976) (photographs) used a trick, which caused the water in the film to flow upwards from the tap, as if defying the laws of gravity.
Bruszewski also constructed objects and installations that reacted to sounds or images. At the open air in Osieki in 1972 he gave a lecture in a room, which was lighted with only one light bulb. It reacted to the volume of the speaker's voice – silence meant darkness, shouting – maximum brightness (When I Speak). Television Hen (1979) was a device that generated a hen's cackle. The animal's sound changed depending on the content of the image shown by the television screen.
Since the seventies Bruszewski also researched the relations between objects and their representations, creating "images in images". The Installation for the Labyrinth Gallery (1976) and the film Glasses (1982) (photographs) were such realisations. In Glasses the artist registered knocking on glasses and knocking on the television screen, which showed their image. Bruszewski also analyzed the photographic medium. Photographs on Canvas (1979) (photograph) are an example of this analysis - the piece is made of prints of photographs of a canvas stretched across a frame, made on photographic canvas, also stretched across a frame.
One of the most important motifs of Bruszewski's works was the problem of language as New Words a structure [YYAA 1973 (see photo)] and its material qualities [Text 1970 (see photo)]. In 1972 the artist created a simple, little machine from rotating blocks with letters, which enabled the creation of two hundred fifty six non-existing words (New Words 1972). A board built from fluorescent tubes, in which an electronic system systematically created rhymed poems from new words, worked on a similar principle [Poetical Machine 1982 (photographs)].
From the mid-eighties onwards Bruszewski began working with a computer (at first it was an Amiga), treating programming as one of the art forms. He was among the only Poles to do so. Continuing his earlier creative activities, in the nineties Bruszewski created a computer program that generated sonnets in an nonexistent language. The poems fulfilled all the necessary grammatical and formal requirements (Leipzig Sonnets 1992, Wrocław Sonnets 1993, Budapest Sonnets 1996). The artist emphasised that "Contrary to 'regular' poetry, which comprises a combinatorics of a limited amount of words, Sonnets are written in an absolute language, offering the reader a dazzling vocabulary".
In 1992 his Sonnets were published in eight consecutive volumes and in the year 2000 a recitation of one of them by Leon Niemczyk took place, which was documented by the artist.
Workshop of Film Form
In July 1988, at Bruszewski's and Wolf Kahlen's initiative, the Radio Ruins of Art (Radio Ruine der Künste Berlin) began broadcasting in Berlin. For over five years (from mid-1988 to the end of 1993) the radio constantly transmitted the programme The Infinite Talk - a conversation between a woman and a man about infinity, composed of randomly selected quotations from the writings of known philosophers (Plato, Schopenhauer, Russel and many others) delivered by a computer.
"I made the assumption that the conversation about infinity will go on forever. I considered installing a solar power supply system, so that the radio wouldn’t fall silent even when the Civilization-Power plant would cease existing as a result of some sort of cataclysm," reminisced Bruszewski. The radio's idea was continued by the "philosophising machine". Monologue, presented by the artist at the Eastern Gallery in Łódź in 1994.
Major exhibitions and individual activities:
- Continuation – Contemporary Gallery, Warsaw
- Entrance – Exit – GN Gallery, Gdańsk
- Horizon – among others Small Gallery ZPAF, Warsaw; Accumulators Gallery 2, Poznań; Erweiterte Fotografie, Vienna, Austria; Kolnischer Kunstverein, Cologne, Germany
- Radio Ruins of Art, Berlin, Germany
- Romanticism – Accumulators Gallery, Poznań
- Work Holliday – The Artists' Museum, Łódź
- Horizon or a Story of White Mice – lecture, Bauhaus, Dessau, Germany
- an individual showing of films and video works at the LUX, London, United Kingdom
- Fire Wall and Chamber of Laughter – XX1 Gallery, Warsaw
Selected group exhibitions:
- Atelier 72 - The Richard Demarco Gallery, Edinburgh
- Cinemalaboratory – EL Gallery, Elbląg; XII Biennale of Art – Sao Paulo, Brazil
- Documenta 6 - Kassel, Germany;
- 22 Polnishe Künstler - Kölnisher Kunstverein, Cologne, Germany
- Sydney Biennale, Sydney, Australia
- Presences polonaises - Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France
- The Intellectual Movement in Polish Art After the II World War – BWA Gallery, Lublin
- Documenta 8 - Kassel, Germany
- The Dungeons of Manhattan - Łódź
- Construction in Process III – Łódź;
- Work Holliday – Artists' Museum; Łódź
- The Butterfly Effect - Budapest, Hungary
- Living Gallery – Zachęta Gallery, Warsaw
- Trace Gallery – Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw
- Zero 61 Group – Leon Wyczółkowski Regional Museum, Bydgoszcz
- Film Form Workshop – Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw
- Evolution festival – Leeds, United Kingdom
- Inc. Art Towards the Corporate Appropriation of Places of Public Expression – XX1 Gallery, Program Gallery, Warsaw; National Museum in Szczecin; BWA, Zielona Góra (2005), BWA, Wrocław (2005); Bielska Gallery BWA, Bielsko-Biała (2005); Island Art Institute, Gdańsk (2005)
- Icons of Victory – former Norblin Factory, Warsaw;
- Come into My World - Patio Art Centre, Łódź (as part of the Łódź Biennale 2006);
- Photoimages. Artistic gesture in photography – Museum of Art in Łódź
Author: Karol Sienkiewicz, December 2006; updated: September 2009.
Illustrations published courtesy of the artist. For more documentation, photographs and films see www.voytek.pl