Adam Jeppesen While Every Passing Day Seemed Fair

Martin Asbæk Gallery is pleased to present the exhibition While Every Passing Day Seemed Fair by Adam Jeppesen. Through anthotype, photogravure combined with copper print, and sculpture, the Danish artist reflects on the challenges we face in the 21st century, including the rapid development of new technologies and possible spiritual depletion. While also raising questions about what artificial intelligence means for our understanding of the world around us as well as for our relationship with time and permanence.
Author Patricia Breinholm Bertram
Photography David Stjernholm

Most of the new works are so-called anthotypes: images created using light-sensitive material from plants. Jeppesen has collected plants to dye the paper, which has then been dried and placed in the sun with a photo negative on top. The color from the organic material remains in the most shaded areas, while the areas most exposed to the sun turn pale. The project therefore involves a high degree of chance as the result is not only dependent on the time of year that the plant-material is harvested, but also the weather during the development.

This hands-on method stands in stark contrast to the ghostly motifs, which have been created using software. The portraits are not meant to appear clear and recognizable, but as sensations or abstractions, which might evoke not only our imagination but also our memories. Recognizing a face is one of the most basic human instincts, and Jeppesen’s vision is to create a bridge between us, as biological beings, and the intangible and synthetic, such as software, by giving it a biological form.
The faces represent something, but not someone. What we are looking at is not human. They have never been children and they will never grow old. They are contemporary ghosts, without the foundational aspects of impermanence and transience that constitute and guide our own mortal lives. We are dealing with a strange case of photography that does not depict a moment in time. A bit like ghosts, we encounter a phenomenon that has an impact on us, but which is out of reach and impossible to physically touch. Jeppesen offers a concrete image that attests the capabilities of artificial intelligence. This that may spawn reflection on the existential and ethical implications that follow, once we put our trust in something that not only has great learning power and formidable ability to simulate, but which is also hard to catch sight of.

Artificial intelligence has become the phantom of the modern age, a ghost, whose presence not only supports our modern lifestyle, but also challenges our democracy as well as truth itself. Alongside these portraits, Jeppesen also introduces a number of sculptures, inspired by a technique known as rammed earth. This technique has been used for thousands of years to create sturdy structures before the invention of both steel frames and cement blocks. But while the sculptures may be sturdy, the handling of the individual pieces changes their appearance slightly. And as the sand drizzles, graduations appear and create a sense of the works being everchanging, in constant process.
The sculptures also mimic recognizable architectonic shapes, like pillars or ancient ruins, creating connections across time and space, but also raising critical questions as to what the future might bring. Especially as even our understanding of an evidence-based truth changes. Truth has become a fluid element, compromised by ourselves, our emotions and their questionable foundation, based on data as flawed as its architect. And this impermanence of truth leads us to contemplate the emptiness of our own identity, questioning not only the pillars of society, but also our self-understanding.

Adam Jeppesen (b. 1978, Kalundborg). Lives and works in Uruguay. Jeppesen graduated from Fatamorgana, Copenhagen, in 2002 and received international attention with his Wake-series in 2008. In 2019, Jeppesen presented The Great Filter at Kunstmuseum Brandts, his large-scale, site-specific installation. Jeppesens work has been exhibited across the globe and is represented in collections such as Denver Art Museum (USA), The Danish Arts Foundation, The National Collection of Photography – The Black Diamond (Denmark) as well as in numerous private collections.

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