Mister Ministeck: Norbert Bayer

Mister Ministeck

The Series "Tetris Advanced","Live Forever" and "TouchScreens"

Pac Man, 2001

Pac Man, 2001

Theory / Research

Raw or cooked:
Mister Ministeck's Pixel turn

By Prof. Dr. Ursula Panhans-Buehler,
Art Scientist, University of Fine Arts Kassel, Germany

Norbert Bayer, the artist who in his artistic practice is rather known as Mr. Ministeck, has considered the metaphysical question "What lies behind the pictures" as closed. This specific problematic nature, which has led in the circulation sphere of the art world to meaningful eyeball popping has been put aside by Mr. Ministeck with a cool dryness, a behaviour which often accompanies the procedure of fishing something out of cryptic depths onto the surface. In both spheres, the digital and the virtual the arrangements of push and pull are normally set as follows: one can easily pull something out of the net, but then it turns quickly into a cat-and-mouse-game - before you could say Jack Robinson one is surrounded by the shimmering of the masks of desire, pulling you. It seems as if there is a continuous yet subtle change of subject made visible by the switch of the parts played by push and pull.

With his pixel strategy Norbert Bayer has given this phenomenon a simple, seemingly nostalgic and meanwhile surprising twist: like children and clowns who take you exactly at your word, Mr. Ministeck takes his "digital pixelation" with a triple hit:1. Norbert Bayer switches the procedure: pull turns push. He takes the plastic pixel of a fashionable and quite trivial game of the 60ies, the 70ies and the early 80ies, once played in order to kill your time, and pushes them into the (plastic) grid, hence Mr. Ministeck accomplishes a picture; the author becomes the pixel pusher. 2. Precisely the material word referee takes the digital aspect of the mathematic-numerical pixel, the digits, through fingerprinting under exhausting circumstances the great pixel of the prime plastic time into the airy holes of the grid. 3. Mr. Ministeck reveals again the open secret of the (today) often-perfect interface surfaces and its pixel composition in a nonchalant way only with the difference that his pictures become coarse and unveiled through the Ministeck, since these plastic stones do not deliver a finer picture.

It is characteristic for Norbert Bayer's ridge walk between virtual and real pictures to create a so called ’joint-point': a point where pictures of the virtual world are shown. Through this artistic jump, Mr. Ministeck stands out from the recycling of the upbringings of his generation without betraying the charms of the fascination of these times. During an exhibition at the Fridericianum in Kassel "Kassel am Meer" which has been held last year, Norbert Bayer showed a retrospective of his work: "The early years", the title being an odd understatement by the artist. There, one could not only see Mr. Ministeck's early "touch screens": ministecks of screenshots of computer games of the first generation, but also some of his (ingenious) conceptual Ministeck ideas: for instance the splash screen of the Adobe Photoshop 5.0, which has been through of letters renamed into "splash spleen" (splash trickiness), and an exact "digital" translation; "How much juice" in analogue-digital pixel "can one press out of a" electronic-digital "pressed lemon?", just to paraphrase Norbert Bayer. Norbert Bayer answers this question himself by giving a mathematically precise proof: 1:1 - 60512 pixels. It has taken him four weeks of hard work to figure this out, but it has also delivered him the right measures for the ministeck-hardware picture, which is 203,5 x 52 cm. On a pedestal was also a crazy programmatic idea exposed: the screen of a dysfunctional computer was peeled with ministeck; on a red foundation the tool of this criminal act was made visible: an enlarged Ministeckpixel in a dramatic perspective projection, which impressingly documented the direction of the attack.

Therefore one can blame Norbert Bayer for the invention of concept-pop or even more adequately for PopConceptArt. One will also remember that there has been often a fight between Concept Art and Pop Art like there is between high versus low, pure or dirty, intellectual or trivial, serious or funny, East Coast versus West Coast, or like in this case between the Raw and the Cooked. But contradictions are sometimes removed by using both opposing sides for oneself; therefore it may be more interesting to point out how many picture worlds have been imprinted by the silkscreen print of Andy Warhol, although the technique he was using has not been new. Mr. Ministeck's tangible Pixel will dig into the ephemeral souls of Console Cowboys like a kill-or-cure remedy before their computers shake off their weight with growing speed even though the language barrier crashes the computer first before shaking off the rider. Norbert Bayer is temporarily moving towards 3D, again tangible, solidly, but this time in paws - he was offered to create an icon Berlin Bear for the German Reichstag.

www.misterministeck.com the new website of NB offers not only a grand overview over his artistic activities, it is moreover a continuation of the ministeck pixel in the graphic creation of surfaces in written word and pictures. The flash program allows an extremely elegant economy of the appearance of the surface and a well-dosed navigation through the luxuriant offers and information. Although in this case the monistic pixel have been reimported again into electronic-virtual pixel they still contribute to sharpen your eye for the difference regarding the material foundation and the electronic minimisation. Looking back on Norbert Bayer's project "analogue eats digital" it reminds one of the famous story of a little boy who hits the head of a snake sucking his soup with a spoon on its head saying: "Thing, eat the chunks as well."

Summer 2002