Catalog PhotoIreland Festival 2012 - "Television Rooms" from Jens Komossa, PhotoIreland Festival 2012, 2012-07-04

Jens Komossa’s exhibition in The Return Gallery in the Goethe Institut, features several of his Television Rooms photographs. These eerie images are taken using only the light, which emanates from the occupant’s television after dark. Komossa’s photographic technique requires a long exposure time. The final outcome not only reflects the image of the room but also somehow evokes the time spent in the space. Jens Komossa places his camera directly in front of the television, with the lens directed not towards the screen but rather back into the room. You can imagine the room being somehow engaged in a long dialogue with the television (discussing the ideas transmitted), while bathed in its light. This acts as a reversed stage set where light is part of the occupant’s arrangement of their space. By setting up their TV in a particular room, at a certain angle, they create their own installation.

During several hours of exposure there is only the blue flickering of the TV lighting the space. The image emerges from the surrounding darkness. The reductive and concentrated mood of the night provides an empty or abandoned stage allowing Komossa to reveal another perspective, a parallel reality. The viewer is in turn exposed to the reality that was always there but until now was not perceptible.

At night ‘the stage’ is vacant. Like a theatre audience waiting for a new play to begin, you can observe the empty stage set and imagine what might happen on that stage. Similarly in Komossa’s photographs you start imagining a person living in that place, creating the stage they want to live in and act on, or even how they want to present themselves towards visitors and friends. Meanwhile, once you have a television you don’t have to step out of your apartment to step into another world. You can just grab your remote control and switch from your own reality to the invented lives on the television soaps. What we see via popular media is becoming more and more generic throughout western culture. And while we are all connected to more or less the same sources, the input is increasingly the same, while local or national identity is becoming lost or forgotten.

In addition to the exhibition in The Return Gallery, Komossa has produced a series of transparent Television Rooms images installed on several windows throughout Dublin. The placement of the photographs, that provide a glimpse into the life of another, is taken one step further by the actual placement of the images on windows. These works have the advantage of being on show out of the normal viewing hours during the festival. The resultant photographs can be considered as a form of portraiture: the owners, while absent visually, are present in the layout and personality of the various rooms and in the titles of the photographs.

Jonathan Carroll

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