Bernice Murphy
in Humpty Dumptys Caleidoscope
Sydney 1992

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Christoph Hildebrand‘s work refelects on the evolution of the social and metaphorical imaging of humankind in the European tradition, from the Renaissance to the present. Leonardo da Vinci‘s image of the man enclosed within the sacred geometries of circle and square provides a metaphysical diagram of the universe in which all forces converge in the image of man‘s body. In Christoph Hildebrand‘s works the humanistic anatomical body of Vitruvian Man has been dissolved and reconstituted into the digitalised electronic body of a pixelated computer image.


Hildebrand uses such image-shifts not to focus on representation of man as such, but to provide through condensed iconic changes an index of the revolutionary restructuring that has occured in human beings‘ picturing of theire relationships with the external world.


Media Altar compresses many elements through a machinery of visual structures and hieroglyphs that are as orchestrated and indicative in their picturing of the world as a Baroque altarpiece was a summary of the Catholic world-view of the seventeenth century. Moral forces, emotions, codes of gender, human actions, philosophical and theological ideas are rendered as pictgrams on a computer menu.


The representation of thr presence of ‚Man‘ in the computer-modulated world of the late twentieth century has shifted from the Leonardesque anthropoid bestriding the universe to a pixelated icon of a hand. The human being is not the incarnation of the divine order of the cosmos, but a bodiless receiver and respondent, merely invited to act in one of many possible ways. Meanwhile ‚God‘ is simply a sign sitting within a multiple-choice set-up, the icon that provides optional access into the lunchbox of theology.


The startling ‚reductiveness‘ of this world-picture is not as simple as it seems. For it actually represents a radically compressed and intensified summary of the complex intellectual and social operations required of the human being in the electronically modulated landscape of late modernity.


In all of his current work Christoph Hildebrand uses elements that are themselves part of larger indexical systems of the global structures and interconnecting production, distribution and communication, not only of goods and services but also of our ideas of reality and the functioning of the world. However the picture of the world - the diagrammatic ‚PIXELWORLD‘ of Christoph Hildebrand‘s constructions - is not essentialised or stabilised as an authoritative view. It is an evolving, highly artifical, tessellated mapping of physical, social and psychological reality.


The arbitrariness of this schema, with its emphasis on normative values is clear, alongside the great range operations and choises it permits - and correspondingly, excludes. It functions as an indexical model, just as a Baroque altarpiece once did. The radical difference is its dismantling of anthropocentric and theological centering within the structure. This ‚world machine‘ distinguishes set-up, hardware, software, menus, and the flashing cursor waiting for the next command.


Dr. Bernice Murphy


in HumptyDumpty‘s Kaleidoscope:

A new generation of German artists

Museum of Contemporary Art Sydney

Sydney 1992