Martin Sulzer
KING JAMES VERSION GENESIS CHAPTER NINETEEN
2015, video


Genesis 19, or "Sodom and Gomorrah" - not only in the bible but also in the Quran and the Torah - marks a foundation for attitudes towards homosexuality historically and to vast geographical expanses. An elemental challenge for all religions, nonetheless, is that of interpretation: how can religious stories be read and retold without affecting the authentic godly word through human interpretation?

The title of the video work itself, KING JAMES VERSION GENESIS CHAPTER NINETEEN, already suggests strict adherence to the text as a conceptual principle. In contrast, the term version in King James Version, the most widespread English language translation of the bible that is itself considered holy, already indicates multiple reincarnations of the original text.

The mere reading of rather short biblical texts produces mental images that pose contradictions and problematise the purity of meaning. An unaltered copy only exists in the digital. KING JAMES VERSION GENESIS CHAPTER NINETEEN marks the artist's and performers' attempt at retelling and translating such a text into moving image with utmost neutrality.

Religion finds its force and influence much less through true inner belief, but through the repetition of rituals that stand in for meaning. It is thus performative rather than ideological in nature. Given the true faithful's realisation of their own human limitations in respect to the authentic holy word, the correct reproduction and re-enactment of rituals must become their main point of pedantic insistence.

The performers' translation of the biblical text into movement, captured by 3D cameras, can be understood as such a ritual. Through the technical process, the physical dimension of their movement is immaterialised and translated into motion data and only visualised again later through clay rendering, the most neutral way of giving shape to three-dimensional data. Flaws and imperfections remain visible in the final video. Rendering in this case can be read as the human's faultiness when attempting to retell, while a notion of the existence of perfect godly data prevails.
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