Thomas Julier
BA Fotografie, 2009
Medien & Kunst, 2013
MA Fine Arts, 2013
Elektronische Kunst

We increasingly look to screens for our views of our world rather than to the world itself. Light, the occasion for our sight, reaches our eyes from laptop, phone, camera--any of our interchangeable monitors. It glows as evenly as an infinity pool or refracts into rainbow effects and sunspots, each with its own emotional field and index of meaning. The Swiss artist Thomas Julier is uniquely preoccupied with this phenomenon. His photographic, moving-image, and sculptural works, concerned with both analog and digital light processing, adjust seamlessly to our present condition, like an eye adjusting to the desert sun or to a dark club's mirror ball. Yet despite Julier's fascination with light, and the clarity with which he pursues it, his work evinces a tangible darkness of character, of purpose.

Julier's cool dystopian vision takes in disparate themes--surfaces and surveillance, fashionable Western youths and their urbane, consumerist ennui--that, though familiar, are nonetheless removed from the fashion-magazine references and watery Pictures-generation precursors that might inundate his work. Consider the two video compilations and single film installation in "lag/lack/leak/lapse," his recent exhibition in Zurich. Untitled, 2007-13, opens with a gorgeous static frame showing the backs of some young guys in a club, their lithe, silvery forms backlit by strobes and smoke, which soon obscure them. Darkness follows, followed by an amp bathed in a pulsating blue light. After another dark intermission, a Duchampian black-and-white wheel (a disco ball) spins, hallucinatory. A dark politics is at work: the generic, slightly menacing male crowd, the steady trance, the pat avant-garde reference. Some 2012, meanwhile, offers a series of sped-up digitally shot landscapes--a New York skyline, a desert--filmed from a large Times Square screen and rendered in saturated color, with a slick commercial look: clouds blaring against the sky, light lines skimming highways. Shown on a flat screen affixed to the wall, black cords dangling with a white fluorescent tube positioned vertically between them, the installation had a deliberate coldness of affect, hardly warmed by the light pouring from the screen and the fluorescent tube. …