Troy Brauntuch

Untitled (Home), an unremarkable photograph from the backyard, a shot so casual it seems to have been chanced on, becomes in Troy Brauntuch’s hands a disturbing examination of the mediated nature of Images. The theme of the exhibition was expounded and an everyday melodrama was thoroughly explained even in the work’s reproduction on the invitation card: In the foreground of the yard, we see the cat’s food bowl; in the background, a dead bird lying on its back by a porch step. But the seemingly obvious causal connection was then called into question in other images in the exhibition (all works 2000). Untitled (Mickey), for instance, shows the cat as voyeur in the window. Another image, Untitled (Feather), shows feathers of a different bird in the grass. Who plucked whom? Why, and for what purpose? And most important: How can we know anything about these occurrences?

The exhibition approached—from different vantage points, in changing media, and through various modes of image analysis—the theme of the hunt, both as the portrayal of hunting in images and as the pursuit of images. Individual drawings in graphite on paper displayed the tools of the hunt. A bow and arrow are inserted into a richly ornamented interior, almost disappearing in an overabundance of information, so that the drawing recalls a double-exposed photograph or superimposed slide projections. Compared to them, the scenes drawn in white conté crayon on black-stained cotton have the effect of sparseness: One’s own shoes remain just a suggestion when, in Untitled (Bird), one’s gaze travels over the porch step to rest on the dead bird. A dog, prone (in an image taken from a news photo), is lying down not to sleep but because a police officer has struck him down: Untitled (Dog).

This exhibition was a complex system of references composed of images, each of which suggested a putative subject matter—or yet another medium. Only with some simple, linear sketches that trace the construction of individual images did Brauntuch finally reveal his analytical method. He utilizes the change from one medium to another to question the very notion of medium. The events portrayed, unspectacular and apparently innocuous, refer to the end of innocence for images. Not that this has to do with the old Platonic critique of the illusory nature of representation. Tracing the clues to the cause of the bird’s death is, for its part, a persistent hunt for images. A media society can account for itself only by means of media.

Hans Rudolf Reust

Translated from German by Sara Ogger.