Ich atme, also bin ich

Planstudio Siepmann’s black-and-white video Ich atme, also bin ich (I breathe, therefore I am) subtly draws the spectators’ attention to functions and processes of the human body so mechanical that usually they’re not perceived in an active and conscious manner, thus reminding the spectators of their own bodily physicality. The two-part work uses the reference to Descartes’ “cogito ergo sum” while simultaneously abandoning such an intellect-based proof of existence to underline Planstudio’s phenomenological approach: not cognition-oriented thinking is the decisive precondition for the “I am,” for existence, for life, but rather the much more physical breathing that precedes it. The first part shows Gerd Siepmann’s nude torso taking up the entire image diagonally from the top left to the bottom right corner of the screen. His hands rest folded above his navel and are lifted and lowered corresponding to the breathing motion of the abdomen, which also causes the interlocked fingers to gradually glide apart in a relaxed manner: All of these movements are passive and not actively controlled and executed by the human mind. The second part features the same nude torso standing upright and in an even narrower detail; this time the camera isn’t static and instead shifts slightly from left to right and finally a bit further away from its object, which lets the spectators now see the torso from the neck to the hips. Wrapped around the chest is a measuring tape, held together in front with both hands and repeatedly readjusted as its circumference changes, widens, and tightens in congruence with the breathing. Together with the audio track (deep breathing sounds), the focus lies on the movement of the chest, whose measuring ultimately won’t yield statistically utilizable results but instead is a more abstract measuring of life itself, which after all is facilitated by breathing.