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Studer / van den Berg

Bergstation 2, 2008
inkjet print on aluminium
120.0 x 270.0 cm
These images of alpine landscapes result from a computer construction commanded by skilful algorithms and vector analysis devised by Monica Studer and Christoph van den Berg. Since 2001, they have been imagining a touristic utopia by the name of Hôtel Vue des Alpes. Their fictitious hotel, which exists thanks to an evolving computer programme, allows all those who don’t take holidays to get away from it all, via the Internet, by renting a virtual room with a mountain view.

Arising from this imaginary hotel project, Tanne 2, Sattel and Bergstation 2, do not elude the jointly developed practice by which the artistic duo resort to technological programmes and applications in order to offer the illusion of mountain views constructed ex nihilo on the computer screen. Forms and colours create their romantic visions of an incredibly realistic nature. Although their compositions do not redraw the contours of existing places, their photographic prints nevertheless conform to the image that the local population, along with the rest of the world, have of bucolic and touristic Switzerland. Between clichés and souvenirs, between experienced reality and perceived reality, their digital representations echo the real motifs of postcards and recall the Heimatstil tradition.

Studer and van der Berg’s oeuvre prolongs the tradition of the alpine landscape initiated in the middle of the 18 th century in the first paintings by Caspar Wolf, in which pure reality was often eradicated to the advantage of a reconstruction between reminiscence and mental or symbolic representation of an alpine world. Offering veritable trompe l’oeil intensified by digital virtuosity, the fictional landscapes of Studer and van der Berg also recall the ingenuousness of Dutch painting.

Vector graphics allow the artists to establish a critical distance and to bring a highly mischievous gaze to bear on the clichés with a flavour of childhood that fill the collective Swiss unconscious. It is by drawing from their respective memory, rather than by observation, that the two artists convey their amazement at the charms of the mountain, through their predilection for new technologies.
Monica/Christoph Studer/van den Berg, Bergstation 2, 2008