Artist from Zürich, Switzerland



Imaginary Paradise

Gubler‘s focus is on the global media, economic and political mechanisms in the context of sustainability issues. The artist reflects on these multi-layered processes using stock footage video material from various databases on the World Wide Web, which he creates as novel, formal-language concentrated moving image collages. The focus here

is on questions of content on the topic of sustainability, which Gubler has always been concerned with personally and which he places in a socio-political context.


In 2015, the world‘s leading politicians adopted 17 joint sustainability goals within the framework of the United Nations, which are to be met by 2030. The aim of the 2030 Agenda is to fight extreme poverty, to improve the living conditions of all people in the long term and permanently, and to protect our planet earth. The Sustainable Development Goals combine three levels of sustainability that are inextricably linked and influence one another - social, environmental and economic.


Matthias Gubler records the sustainability goals outlined above and visualizes them by assigning each member 17 stock footage clips with a duration of one second each, resulting in 3,281 video clips. The total duration of the film is around 60 minutes. The video clips are mixed in random mode and cut one after the other with a hard cut. The video clip is presented on a very small monitor that is fitted with a passe-partout and presented in a large white frame. With the work IMAGINARY PARADISE specially conceived for the exhibition, the artist wants to show that we have always lived in a dream-like, artificial world - more precisely: our conception of the world has always been shaped by media images such as those from stock footage databases . These worlds of images mainly show us impressions of joy, happiness, health, beauty, equality, wealth, eternal youth and many other topics. In a stylized and exaggerated form, these imagery suggest precisely many aspects that the 17 sustainability goals seek to achieve.


The formal language of the work is evident in the rapid cuts of the video material that we are familiar with, which is why it is not possible for us to capture all the images, or even to reflect them first or to put them in connection with one another. Not being able to perceive this moment of perceptual irritation or not being able to perceive a visual conglomerate in its entirety is reinforced by the way the work is presented: The small monitor and the relatively large picture frame, which is provided with a glass, make it impossible to clearly recognize the Moving images all the time and thereby illustrate our always “framed” way of perception. In analogy to the stock footage images supposedly functioning as documentary contemporary witnesses, Gubler succeeds in giving the viewer an already “framed” snapshot of the neoliberalist West.


It is precisely this way of looking at things, which cannot be clearly defined in our perception, that enables the video collages to have further layers of meaning. Don't we all know this feeling? You want to step forward, and yet you always seem to be stepping in the same place, somehow you just can't move forward. Past, present and future merge into a seemingly indistinguishable whole. If we have set ourselves a goal, want to get there with all possible means and seem to fail over and over again, to stand still, then the moment seems to have come when we rest in ourselves, concentrate on the essentials and ourselves reflect. This is exactly what Gubler's moving images make perceptible and questions such as “Can't we give some of our wealth to others? Is the resolution just a sham and is it supposed to distract from our guilty conscience? Are we doing really well or shouldn't new goals be formulated for us? "


We are all part of this world, we should all think about a sustainable life in a self-reflective and individual way, and even if nothing seems to be moving, nothing seems to develop into a better world - the images move inexorably.


Imaginary Paradise presents different dream worlds on a meta level, with his video Future Island # 3 Gubler apparently presents a "dream island" as we commonly know it from travel brochures of tour operators or in the meantime - following various hashtags - consume on social media can. Future Island # 3 can, however, be tried for a long time by the viewer on maps or sea maps - they will frown in disappointment. Matthias Gubler's imaginary island is designed - analogously to the Imago - from numerous real existing coastal sections, which were documented by means of drone recordings, but what is presented before our eyes is reserved for our imagination and our wish for such a location. A prototype of sustainability, immune to the continuous rise in sea level, the island functions as an idyllic non-place - in the mantle of a place of escape - that invites you to think, but at the same time gives you food for thought.


In this work we see moments of oil procurement and the monotonous repetitive movement of the crane. The title of the work refers to a play on words between “pimp” and “perpetual” - that is, pimps and the “continuously recurring”. With this work our attention is drawn to the dependency structures and patterns of the (especially) western world in connection with petroleum. With this work, the artist would like to show the resulting consequences on a further level of meaning: the black gold we repeatedly have negative effects on us all, be it through climate change, wars or power games on a political level. So it is not perpetual motion that is always moving, but the earth seems to be rocking in a tumbling motion. Yes, the actual main protagonists of this work are ironically the clouds: they are indifferent to what is happening.


In this series the artist presents collages in which two video loops are literally cut into one another. The cut, which usually refers to the cut of two clips in the medium of film, functions literally in this work. On the visual language level, Gubler shows objects or geometries, which are only visualized as fragments and therefore convey a completely different level of meaning. This closes the circle to the work described above: Not only the way of our perception or our understanding of (a sustainable) world become thematic, but questions about the modality of aesthesis.


Bio / CV


1981, born in Zurich

Matthias Gubler was born in Zurich, grew up in Central Switzerland and has been working as an artist and independent designer in Zurich for over fifteen years. As a founding member of the „typosalon“, „Bildstörung“, „videokultur“ and „Taktung“ collectives, he has realized a wide variety of projects under their names in Switzerland and abroad. His many years of international activity as a video jockey influenced his approach to the moving image, the tact and form.

His media spectrum is very broad; from classic poster and book design to video work, object art and interventions with

a socio-political background. The mostly simple, conceptual works are all precisely crafted. Content and work are easily accessible and require little explanation. The constant examination of proportion, space and interspace, as well as the creative reduction characterize his works. His artistic work seeks confrontation, exchange with the viewer.

1999 - 2003
Apprenticeship with degree as a typesetter

2001 bis 2015
VJ-ing with over 300 appearances and installations internationally

Founding member of the VJ collective Bildstörung

Founding member of the swiss network for video creators, „videokulture“

Residency in New York

2012 + 2015
Organization team and curation of the „Taktung-Festival“, Zurich

 in New York (scholarship central swiss studios NYC)


Exhibitions (selection)

Digital Art Week, Lucca, Italy

ART MARKET BUDAPEST SEED 2.0, a-space gallery
TA3 Gallery Warsaw, Poland
Yiyun Art Gallery Taipei, Taiwan
ART TAICHUNG 2021, Taipei, Taiwan

Der verwaschene Ort ZWZ, 6 1/2 im Exil, Zurich
Value the Process, TART, Zurich
Museum Ital Reding-Hofstatt, Schwyz / Galleria il Tesoro, Altendorf

Alles Fassade, Kunsthalle(n) Toggenburg
Ein Wal in der Badewanne [...] 6 1/2 im Exil, Zurich
Digital, Kunstraum Waldhaus, Zurich

VERSUS Art on construction, Baden «OH DU FRÖHLICHE!» Sechseinhalb, Zurich

Das Fabrikutop former cement factory, Brunnen

META Schwyz Galerie am Leewasser, Brunnen

tactung-festival, Off-Location, Binz, Zurich