Scanner Room

Karolina Halatek

Kinetic, site-specific installation for the Contemporary Art Center Ujazdowski Castle, 2014

LED, aluminum, motor, 760 x 740 x 480 cm

A scanner is a device for contactless digital acquisition of data. In the traditional sense, it is used to capture documents, bar codes, etc., and is implemented via a light or laser pulse and its corresponding evaluation of the reflection behavior. The transmitted light pulse strikes the object, is distracted or reflected and hits the read/write head again.

Based on the received light, the object structure is reconstructed via an algorithm and is stored digitally or reproduced as an image. Security technology exemplifies another – not least, controversial – field of application for scanners: the body scanner. Body scanners are used to detect hidden objects underneath clothes in airports or special security areas.

Scanner Room by Karolina Halatek combines both concepts. For her installation, Halatek uses a minimalistic light impulse, which passes through the space step by step and collides with present objects. The moment the light strikes the object – in this case the visitor’s body – a static is created, which produces a sense of uncertainty and insecurity by its transience. The concentrated light illuminates the physicality of the object and shifts it for a short while in the visible area of ​​the yet undefined space. In this impulsive existence of induced corporeality, resulting from the visual confirmation of the reflected light, the perceived space decouples from physical facts and expands into a multiple version of itself.

The process is not as relentlessly voyeuristic as the body scanner, as it is rather a subtle impulse for introspection that gently diffuses into the consciousness of the captured visitor. Attracted by the constant monochromatic light pulse, the bodies materialise out of the diffuse opaque mist. The space opens up, expands and demonstrates the bodies in relations to themselves and to others. The own consciousness gains clarity about distances and spatial arrangements in their defined temporal range and responds emotionally. 

The continuously wandering light pulses and the non-transparent fog create a mediative atmosphere of concentration. Nothing is clearly delineated or defined by the short flashing instances and the non-fixable entities of space and body, which creates room for speculation and experience and confronts visitor with his own existence and the presence of others.

Scanner Room transforms the perception of time, by taking moments out of its successive context and reorganises it in staccato sequences of images. A new order of events emerges beyond normative perception. Emerging from the flow of momentary successive events, a void is created whose freedom allows the visitor to reflect on his own awareness.