Robert F. Hammerstiel
1957 in Pottschach, Austria, lives in Vienna.
Robert F. Hammerstiel’s photographic and video works explore the surrogate worlds people create to compensate for unfulfilled longings. The online video game Second Life simulates real life – the user can even order or construct landscapes. The artist’s photo series Waste Land (2011) shows artificially constructed natural sceneries gradually emerging as the computer performs its calculations, with building blocks for landscapes and architectures floating through space; the sense of idyllic peace that pervades the finished landscapes is fractured by these surreal constellations. For the photographic series Trust Me (2011–12), Hammerstiel set faithful reproductions of plants made of synthetic materials before a neutral white backdrop, photographed them, and then made life-sized prints. Like many of his works, the pictures quote as well as undermine the aesthetics of advertising visuals with their ingenious symbiosis of allure and manipulation: the plants ‘pose’ in all their beauty, offering themselves as merchandise promising happiness, and are yet no more than an ersatz nature, a decorative mass product. Here reality is subjected to a double shift – the translation into photography transfers the plants, manufactured to look deceptively ‘real’, into a realm of the hyperreal.