By Heinz Schütz for Lars Koepsel

The head and ist halfs



Starting point and premise of Lars Koepsels video portraits are insights of brain research. 
Already Hippocrates made the statement that the brain is consisting of two halfs with different functions. Latest research confirms this statement and comes to the conclusion that the right half of the brain serves for visual perception, feelings, intuition and creativity in its widest sense, whereas the left half of the brain is responsible for language, data, learned knowledge, logic and rationality. 
The hypothesis on which Lars Koepsels work is based goes beyond the stated work share of the brain and may be outlined in such two types of individuals might be differentiated: the emotional-creative and rational-logic-oriented. Both types find their physiological expression. According to the respective type, the form of the head shows correspondingly striking characteristics with the emotional-creative type having a more distinct left half of the face and the rational-logic type showing a more distinct right half.

Based on these premises and hypotheses, Koepsels work show characteristics of experimental research, it would, however, be wrong to allege scientific intention to his art work. The basic physiological assumptions are more an impetus putting his art work into motion thus provoking questions and insights in a humurous and playing way. Koepsel includes conceptual moments, but in the end his work develops on the perceptional level.

Like in his text pictures Koepsel recurrs to the body, that means on the one hand the artists bodies, on the other hand the bodies of art theorists, art critics and curators. Corresponding to brain theory, he structures the field of art into the emotional-creative and the logical-analytic part. This structure determines the selection of individuals, artists and art theorists photographed by Koepsel in a most objective way. He then edits the photograph in his computer and replaces the face of the person adding two left parts of the face to a new face, as well as he does with the right part of the face. In the end he creates three pictures out of one showing a left-left, a right-left and a right-right face. 
The stunning aspect of this procedure is that it reveals three completely different faces thus defeating the obviously transported idealization against better knowledge of perception that the human body and face consist of two symmetric parts. It also defeats the conception of symmetry especially found in classic estheticism which may be applicable to artifacts, with a view to the human body, the postulated unity of beauty and symmetry is given the lie by nature. 
Following the premises and hypotheses on which Koepsels picture manipulations are based it means that the ideal theorists face, his characteristic and marked shape of the head would consist of two right halfs, as well as the ideal artists face would consist of two left halfs. The actual result of these picture manipulations does indeed but not entirely correspond to a large scale to the hypothetic expectations. Two conclusions may be drawn: on the one hand the hypothesis that there is a connection between the shape of the head and preferred brain activity can not be easily or even empirically proved, on the other hand that the hypothesis is right despite empirical deviations. In this case the manipulated photograph serves as a kind of lie detector referring to the substantial, possibly not recognized calling of the pictured person. Or: art theorists are sometimes more creative and artists sometimes more logic-rational. Maybe this means to revise the common perception of artists and theorists?
Lars Kopesels photographs do not aim at proves and scientific evidence. His photographs open a wide range of interpretation including both questions on head shape and brain activity - classical.

Esthetics persist in the unity of form and content - and the question of the ideal head shape of the pictured individual. If morphing provides patterns for embellishment in plastic surgery, why should an ideal picture not be created unexpectedly? 
Another important aspect of Koepsels work is to be seen in the mechanism of perception and the relation of pre-existing pictures and reality. It is now important how Koepsel treats the photographs. He presents the portraits as a video where three photographs of one face replace each other in slow cutting sequences. Ideally, he fixes the screens showing only one person each to the wall so that they do not seem like screens, but traditional and static pictures. The traditional portrait knows the idealization trying to embellish the face of the portrayed to fix it in one moment which becomes the representative of the portrayed. Koepsel designs a face within the idea of idealization, but he provides three variations of this face. The viewer of the video portrait will accept the photographed face he perceives first as the picture of the real face. Upon longer glance, irritation will follow due to the change of faces. All three faces are possible and even the not manipulated photograph finally is only one variant of a possible face. Every face be becomes a slide deviating from the other. 
This Ñslide mechanism“ represents a common phenomenon of perception. Constructivistic perceptional theory proves that perception is not only passive, but always also an active process of construction. In every perception, pre-existing pictures and perceptional patterns play their role to determine the perceived also serving as a slide from which the perceived differs. Asians, for example, will perceive the European face as a long-nosed face, at least as long as they are surrounded only by Asian faces, as well as Europeans who will perceive the Asian eye area as slit-eyed. Perception seems not to be possible without pre-existing slides based on experience. Recurring to the creative, logic part of the brain, Lars Koepsels portraits aim at deconstructing pre-existing slides. 


Heinz Schütz