VISIONS OF REALITY – Thursday, August 28th 1952, 6 a.m., New York

The title of the installation is also the title of episode 6 of the film SHIRLEY - VISIONS OF REALITY.

SHIRLEY - VISIONS OF REALITY brings to life thirteen paintings by the American painter Edward Hopper (1882 – 1967). Similar to tableaus vivants—a popular theatrical entertainment of the 19th century—the people depicted in Hopper’s paintings will become the protagonists in mini-dramas. The “snapshots” of the paintings will each be extended to a period of six minutes either before or after the events shown.
The film shows the episodes—and Hopper’s reconstructed paintings—chronologically over the course of one fictive day and night (from the 28th to the 29th of August) covering a period of 34 years, from 1931 till 1965.

The installation:  

The point of departure of VISIONS OF REALITY is the world of visual arts. The idea to explore the depiction of reality not only by means of film, but also with the aid of the exhibition medium, seems obvious. The settings of VISIONS OF REALITY are created in co-operation with representatives from the fields of painting and architecture. The artist Hanna Schimek, visualises the landscapes outside the windows in Hopper’s works and the pictures shown on the walls in the form of paintings corresponding to the real size. This once again focuses on the theme of the installation – staging reality, imagining reality – with the devices of painting.

Because the film sets were only built for a specific camera position – the camera always retains the angle of viewing of the paintings – visitors are able to move around in anamorphic three-dimensional reconstructions of Hopper’s paintings. Only then does it become clear that – contrary to the ostensible fidelity to reality – they actually often display false perspectives, unreal direction of light and shadows. The visitors perceive the barely noticeable distortions of perspective in the film and thus experience the tension between film reality and actual reality. On the one hand, the exhibition permits visitors to look “behind the scenes” of the cinema illusion machine while, on the other hand, giving them the opportunity to enter the film sets and thus putting them in the role of the actors in the film and the figures in Hopper’s paintings.
A live video camera that is set up to record exactly the same detail of Hopper’s painting, records the movements and activities of the public. The recordings are shown as part of the installation.

Concept und Realisation
Gustav Deutsch

Illusionary painting and color concept
Hanna Schimek

Object design
Richard Pirker

Architectural advice
Arch DI Franz Berzl