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Cascades of colour radiate against a dark background; bright orange-red, purple, or blue-green colour trails whirl across the picture plane; against the black background, the colours seem to explode, changing into new patterns and rhythms. Hayabusa features striking photographs, or rather virtuosic moments torn from the maelstrom of constantly changing impressions. Endless new details enthral the viewer, drawing one into the depths or allowing the examination of individual shapes and reflections. As well as the captured trails of light, it is colour that defines the essential moment in the fourteen works, which are displayed as diptychs. Further elements include the design of the image space and the dynamic structures of the motifs. The photographs can be explored via the evocative mesh of light, colour, space and structure.


In Hayabusa, Conrad Piepenburg presents his confrontation with the main origin of the photograph: light. Without light, there would be no photography, it is the prerequisite for any form of photographic recording. The very word ‘photography’ literally translates as ‘light drawing’. In the images, the most varied bodies of light serve as starting points. During prolonged exposures made while moving the camera, the mostly static light sources are given a dynamic movement in which multiple layers of focus and individual light trails overlap in ever-changing ways.


While the light patterns have left their traces on the image space with spontaneity and the utmost freedom, the colours have been defined deliberately. The photographer determines the perception of the captured light forms through free variation and digital processing. The colour becomes the foundation of his artworks. Completely independent of a particular object, the colours themselves reveal their radiance. The light phenomena thus become delicate iridescent colour worlds which dominate the images as impulsive and energetic patterns.


The red-orange tones associated with fire and heat are reminiscent of volcanic eruptions or even the cosmic Big Bang. In their explosive, circular and vortex-like forms, the colours seem to be centrifuged out of the depths of the image space. Thus, the two-dimensional image area is expanded into a seemingly endless image space, which extends far beyond the reproduction of an object.


With creative confidence, the photographer plays with light, a medium which for him is infinitely malleable. The structures he captures are neither objects based on reality nor recognizable. This form of abstraction breaks away from the usual uses of photography, leading to new visual worlds which can, however, only be made visible through the medium of photography itself. Forms that dance and flow but also, most importantly, pulsate outwards from a centre, are structured on the black surface of the image. Trembling, overlapping lines, individual points of light forming disordered patterns and amorphous clouds of colour combine to create a visual world that is constantly reordering itself.

The artist employs a special material and the arrangement of the images to create additional layers of perception. Fourteen images have been transferred to metal surfaces. They shimmer alluringly, gaining an additional tactile dimension. But above all, the pairings encourage the viewer to see the images in tandem. One can hardly look at just one shot; the second photo always expands the viewer’s focus, thereby also expanding the room for interpretation. The diptychs do not merge into a single unit, but remain recognizable as individual images. This prevents the viewer from losing him- or herself completely in the images: one’s gaze can remain analytical, even if the colour schemes repeatedly encourage new perceptions.

The individual images that are collected in the Hayabusa series impress the viewer through the contrasts they throw up. On the one hand, the photographer focuses on a particular moment, a particular lighting situation, but on the other hand his abstract still lifes never appear quiet or still. The dynamism created in the photographic process and captured in the photographs affects the perception of the images. His emphasis on moments of energetic motion can already be seen in the title. The word ‘Hayabusa’ mainly triggers associations of speed and discovery. A Japanese space probe with the same name explored the universe; a series of Japanese high-speed trains carried this designation, as well as a particularly fast motorcycle model from Japan. All these technical vehicles refer to the Japanese term for the peregrine falcon, one of the fastest birds of prey in the world.

This photographic series also began in Japan. In 2011, fascinated by the exceptional atmosphere of the Japanese capital, Tokyo, Conrad Piepenburg began initial studies for the series, which were later extended in Hong Kong, Bangkok and Shanghai. Even if the individual sites play no role as subjects, they appear once again in the coordination points of the title. This is the only possible connection to the reality experienced in the moment of recording. But whether the pictures were taken at dusk or at night, whether they were photographed in shopping malls or on the streets of major cities, is irrelevant to the perception.

The found motifs merely form the basis for a laborious processing of the image. The concrete experience of space and light is captured in lively moving pictures; the supposedly disordered is structured in the photographs. They reveal a passion for movement. Most of all, it is the unfocused quality that represents a reference to a visible dynamism. Out of the chaos and bustle of the Asian megacities, the photographer has extracted moments of calm. He uses the brightness of bulbs or lamps and interprets his visual inventions as constellations or patterns that point to the depths of space. The trails of light and colour become moments of an altered perception of space and time. They are unique notations full of sublime poetry. Using photographic means, he creates multilevel imagery that can be repeatedly re-read and interpreted.


Ulrich Rüter