Clemens Luser

SlowMotion HighSpeed

Opening: June 2018
Curated by: Elisabeth Fiedler und Dirck Möllmann

August Musger, Eisenerz and the invention of slow motion technology

What is time? Does it exist or do we construct it? How do we perceive it, can it be grasped or made visible, can it be stretched or compressed? 

Technically, time is the only kind of physical quantity to have a clear and irreversible direction. It describes the progress of the present from the past into the future and is understood by the human mind as a form of change or sequence of events. According to the theory of relativity, in combination with space it forms the fourth dimension in space-time.

In fact, though, time does not exist. The problematic question of the existence of time results from the question of whether our consciousness creates it or whether it exists per se. As brain research shows, perception, thought processes, memory, sense of time, and consciousness are intimately linked and cannot be divorced from each other in actual experience. Philosophers, theologians and mystics occupied themselves with this question for thousands of years.

For Plato, for example, eternal ideas are the only true entities and time but an image of this being, whereas Aristotle sees the concept of time inextricably linked to change. He regards it as a unit of measurement of motion and vice versa. Assuming that time can be divided into an infinite number of intervals, he advocated the concept of the space-time continuum. In Augustine’s Confessiones, in turn, the past and future are memory and expectation in the present. He was the first person to distinguish between physically measurable time and time as it exists in the mind and in experience.

Starting out from here, physicists, astronomers, neurologists, chronopsychologists and chronobiologists begin to explore the phenomenon of time. The earliest structures for worship and cave paintings in art testify to the perception of time as Chronos, as constantly passing time, or Kairos, the right moment. Time was accelerated and mechanically dissected during and since the First Industrial Revolution. Work processes were rationalised, distances shortened, motion tangibly accelerated. Factors and connections perceived in time and space, acoustically and visually, were harnessed with the aid of technological knowledge and developments for social, economic and political purposes; they were subjects in science and art, taken apart and reformulated.

One of these developments culminated in the seemingly real representation of the passing of time by displaying sequences of individual images in accelerated form. This deception of the eye was further refined, and could be experienced accelerated by means of timelapse and decelerated as slow motion. Slow motion technology goes back to the priest and physicist August Musger, who was born in 1868 in Eisenerz. He explored all of the above topics in his double role as theologian and scientist. He was commemorated on the occasion of his 150th birthday and the 70th anniversary of the municipality of Eisenerz: 

Clemens Luser’s sculpture SlowMotion HighSpeed was originally developed for a competition. A 3D print of the investor’s bust—created with the latest technology, and thus in keeping with Musger’s interests—is positioned under a glass dome on a plinth, greeting us in the form of an autonomous artwork with the character of a monument, an aspect that it both undermines and re-examines. At regular intervals, the bust is accelerated to the point where the figure can only be seen in contours, no longer identifiable and thus anonymous. As such, it becomes a variable monument to speed. With the aid of the slomo function on smartphones, tablets or digital cameras, viewers can decelerate the rotation to slow motion and the figure becomes recognisable. The work makes us conscious of different perceptions of time, spatial and temporal change, as well as our capacity of accelerating or reducing sequences and thus time.

KiöR thanks Gerhild Illmaier, eisenerZ*ART and Alexandra Riewe for pointing out Musger's relation to Eisenerz and for initiating this memorial.

Supported by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe investing in rural areas.

Art in Public Space

Marienplatz 1/1
8020 Graz, Österreich
T +43-316/8017-9265



Bergmannsplatz, 8790 Eisenerz
47°32'29.4"N 14°53'18.3"E