Interview Jo Hsiao with Peter Bogers.
(published in the catalogue "A Journey of the Senses", an opening show organized by the Institute of Contemporary Art, Taipei.
Hsiao : Peter, you were educated at the Graduate Sculpture
Department of the St. Joost Art Academy, Breda. In what circumstances did you begin to develop your interest in producing multimedia installations?
Bogers : Twenty years ago, I studied at the St. Joost Art Academy in Breda, Holland and around that time the first home video cameras arrived on the market. For me, this was the most exciting period since performance art. I was intensively involved in performance art, partly in co-operation with other artists. Performance art was popular as an alternative underground art form for a certain public. In using the video camera, I ultimately discovered the possibility of distancing myself from the all too personal and direct confrontation with the public. In fact, I started to use the video camera as an intermediary and a mediator between the public and myself. I had the choice between "live" action for an audience or recording the action on video and showing it at a later time. The availability of video recording equipment provided the possibility of freely capturing processes in the seclusion of my studio and then deciding later whether and how I would like to bring these processes into the open. In this way, the video camera was a liberation from the oppressive, direct confrontation with an audience. Initially, I wanted to deal with that confrontation, but gradually it started to interfere with my freedom and prevented me from experimenting with visual means in an unrestricted way. I value this freedom and I am continually aware of having to conquer it, time and again, both with respect to myself and to the outside world.
Hsiao : In Marieke Van Hal's interview, Rene Coelho, curator of "The Second" and director of MonteVideo/TBA, thought that your work is very physical by nature, and it is always autobiographic. Do you agree with his views about your work?
Bogers : The starting point will always be my direct personal experience and fascination, but transforming these experiences to a universal, non-personal level is the main part in the process of creating an artwork. I aim at universal timelessness and beauty. Thus Rhetorica can just as well be shown and understood in Taiwan as it can be in Holland, the work is not dependent on geographical, cultural or political circumstances. The creation of Rhetorica started with my amazement for the way my then two-year old son was experimenting with language and slowly finding his way to communicate through sounds. The work puts the unconcerned experimenting curiosity of a small baby in contrast with a self-conscious
grownup attitude. Because physical human conditions are a lot more universal then mental conditions, I like the idea of physicality playing an important role in my work.
Hsiao : With Rhetorica, the intriguing play of image and sound invites the viewer to linger. Do you see image and sound as equivalent elements in determining the form and content of
this spatial installation?
Bogers : I always try to avoid making images and putting sound to it at a later interval. I see Rhetorica as a sculpture, and in sculpture sound cannot deliberately be used to intensify the visual experience, as is often the case in film. I want to use image and sound as an indissoluble entity.
Hsiao : Many of your installations seem to embrace the theme
Bogers : On the one hand you have reality, on the other you have art. Art deals with artificial reality, and artificial reality is closely connected to alienation.
Hsiao : As a new media artist, what do you think the art of the future will look like?
Bogers : Media art is prone to be quickly relegated to the realm of the novel, the experimental, and unfortunately, trendy short-term thought. Relatively new means of expression often attract people who hardly have anything to do with art. They are mainly interested in the technical innovation aspect. Although one extensively employs technical innovations in art, art and technique will always continue to be at odds since the balance between them is very delicate and therefore, easily upset. The fragility of this balance certainly holds true for media art, a form that could not exist without techniques
developed by scientists.
Twenty years ago, one could expect amazed and admiring reactions when one announced an attempt of creating video art. Today, nobody is surprised anymore, which is a better starting point for viewing art. Fortunately, the obscure factor of the video image's impressive novelty no longer exists. The problem of a new medium's trendiness will always dissolve, the novel ultimately becomes normal and accepted and will eventually entirely disappear. Thus, a time will arrive when nobody will paint, nobody will know what media art is. and human beings will no longer communicate through their voices or perceive through their eyes. For the time being, however, the moving electron through all kinds of material, will continue to play a dominant role in human communication.