On the Photographic Projects of Stephan Kaluza

On the Photographic Projects of Stephan Kaluza

Stephan Kaluza’s projects are based on the idea of photographically condensing complex physical and “spiritual” objects horizontally, so that they can be experienced visually. What Kaluza defines as ‘complex objects’ are phenomena of a spatially/culturally concentrated magnitude that are not usually visible for the (-human-) eye in this form; these include e.g. landscapes as well as processes and actions.

The Physical Objects:

Horizontal condensation refers to the use of several thousand photographic images per object, which are subsequently strung together into a seamless single photograph. – For example, the artist walked along the full length of both the Rhine River and the Thames and took a photo every minute. In both cases, the result was an image that respectively depicted the entire river from its source to the river’s mouth. Kaluza has also similarly portrayed the now non-existent Berlin Wall.

Previous projects: “The Rhine Project (complexe 1)”, published by the Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, Cologne / DuMont Verlag, Cologne,  “The Thames Project (complexe 2)“, Thames & Hudson Ltd, London, “Ko Phi Phi Don - Project (complexe 8)”, “Tunnel (complexe 9)”, “The Wall Project (complexe 16)”, published by the DuMont Verlag, Cologne.


In his “Bildstücke” (image-pieces), Stepahn Kaluza explores narrative image sequences.  Each Bildstück is made up of several thousand photographic images of a theatrical plot, which are subsequently strung together to a seamless strip.

The starting point for every Bildstück is a textual and visual concept. The protagonists’ dialogue is composed like a theater piece and the scenery and theatrical space realized in the same way. During the subsequent actual stage performance, a centrally positioned camera photographs the action once every second.

The methodology of creating these pieces may seem cinematic, but the final result is something entirely different. – It is a composition of a single visual space, in which the individual scenes of the action interlock. – By taking away the horizontal margins of the individual photos, the temporal limitation of each singular photograph is also lifted - in favor of a unity of time & space of the overall image. Although the photos are made at different points in time and likewise document the chronology of the action, the static overall image can nevertheless be viewed “at a single glance” in an exhibition space. In this sense, the action visible in the photos evolves into a –form– in the context of the Bildstück. – For example, the sequence of protagonists acting on stage conveys an impression of rhythm, while simultaneously the constant horizontal repetition of the theatrical aesthetic creates the effect of a huge (meta-) stage.

The principle of cinematic art lies in stringing together an enormous number of images at high speed. In contrast, the individual images in the “Bildstücke” are viewed simultaneously. Thus, the idea behind these pieces is not to replace the spoken word with images, but instead to create an overall conceptual composition of a visual narrative.