Square, Line, Zero to Infinity
The compositions “Square”, “Line”, and “Zero to Infinity” are – as the artist put it himself – “a further development of the analysis of a photographic image by its systemic extension and shifting of focus towards issues bordering on mathematics.” Unlike his earlier works, where Bakowski was preoccupied with explorations into the perception of reality depicted in a photograph, here the artist addresses the relationship between the text conveyed in an image/tile and its meanings, and representation itself. In this sense, the works can be seen as the artist’s first purely conceptual compositions. “The works ‘Square’ and ‘Line’ convey an analysis of the perception of an object which came to life in the course of programming and development of the work. These series simultaneously define the limits of photography and the ability of perception.” wrote Bakowski. Both compositions were based on a similar principle where a text on a photograph, which described the actions it was subject to, served as the point of departure. The work “Square” consists of fourteen square photographs which make up two parts. The first sequence, consisting of seven prints, starts with a photograph on which the following text was multiplied seven times: “this square is divided into nine squares, one of these squares has been enlarged to the size of the initial square.” Subsequent photographs follow the principle defined by the first print, the final effect being the seventh composition in the form of a black square. A reverse procedure was implemented in the second sequence of photographs, which follows the instruction on the first print: “this square has been downsized nine times, nine downsized squares make up a square equal in size to the initial square”, however the end result, that is the black square on the final print, is similar to that of the previous sequence. An analogous principle is at work in Bakowski’s composition “Line”. A rectangular, vertical plate displays a text explaining the procedure: “the line of this text has been divided in half, one half has been enlarged to the initial size”. The effect is a black vertical line which takes up half of the plate. The work “Square” was exhibited in 1978 at Bakowski’s solo show which launched the program of the Mala Gallery of the Association of Polish Artists Photographers, as well as in the Gallery Znak, in Bialystok, along with the work “Line” completed in 1979. The composition “Zero to Infinity” took its name from the title of a group exhibition held in 1979 at Foto-Medium Art Gallery in Bialystok, for which the work was prepared. The work offers a literal illustration of the theme consisting of a series of photographs mounted on a plate, the prints show the number zero in various stages of development.