Diemut Strebe (b. Unknown)

Invisible Man

Image from Invisible Man by Allen & Overy
Year: year unknown
Material: Colour Duratrans Photographic Composite, mounted with Diasec in Lightbox, 4312 single LEDs/308 panels with each 14 LED’s
Dimensions: 240 × 180 × 10 cm

Invisible Man is based on the relationship between human perception and the multitude of factors responsible for that perception. It is a theme that has been widely discussed and explored in both science and philosophy. Perception can mislead you. Universal laws of nature do not distinguish between past, present and future, but perception is a different ball game.

Partly triggered by the theme of “perception”, Strebe has become fascinated by light. Invisible Man is a photo of the interior of a modern, contemporary lightbox, taken with a high-resolution camera. Each of the 308 panels contains 14 LED lamps (4312 LED lamps in total). The lights are digitally multiplied infinitely towards the rear and function as the source of light in this photo.

The work refers in an almost literal way (a tunnel of light leading forward or backward) to the so-called “inflation theory”, a complex idea developed by the American particle physicist Alan Guth. According to Guth’s calculations, our universe is larger than previously thought and therefore much larger than we can observe with our current telescopes. As a consequence of the tremendous power of the energy that was “hurled” into space during the “creation” of the universe, the distribution of energy in the cosmos is fully even, up into the furthest reaches. Strebe wanted to express this feeling in this work.

The title Invisible Man refers to Ralph Ellison’s 1952 eponymous novel. It deals with many of the social and intellectual problems that African Americans dealt with during the early 20th century in the search for their own black identity. The protagonist is an unnamed African American man who considers himself invisible to society. We can only speculate whether the artist uses the title in reference to “being unseen” as an artist. After all, she is only at the start of her career and may be looking for her own identity or place in the world. There’s another possible hint on Strebe’s website: Invisible Man is her only work of art that isn’t featured on it. Rather than showing a photo of the work, the website features the somewhat enigmatic phrase “Invisible Man is a strange lightbox that cannot be photographed, you must see it.”

Invisible Man is an attempt by Strebe to photograph and capture not only the light source but the light itself. Paradoxically, the work can’t be viewed without a mechanical light source behind the photo itself. Without it, the viewer would hardly be able to see the captured light. Science has taken us incredibly far, but creating an image of an Invisible Man is still a hopeless task, even for an artist…