Zelt (Tent)

Zelt or Tent is a work by Swiss artist Roman Signer. This particular sequence consists of a serie of images in which a man is seen running from a text which then explodes in a burst of flame and smoke.

For this Picture Analysis we have been asked to think about the following questions:-

Would this work have been as effective if the camera’s viewpoint had changed with each shot?

Changing the camera’s viewpoint for each shot would not have resulted in a piece of work that is as effective.

Changing the viewpoint would alter how the figure and the explosion are seen and interpreted.

For instance if the camera had been moved closer to the figure and the explosion there would maybe have been an increased sense of danger from the explosion but how we see the figure would also be different. Closing on the figure would make them seem bigger and give a sense that they are approaching the viewer more quickly that they in fact were.

In the same way moving the camera further away would lessen the sense of danger, as the explosion would seem smaller. It would also make the figure seem less in a hurry to leave the vicinity of the smoke and flames behind them.

Changing the position of the camera from one side to the other would lessen the impact of the explosion in relation to the figure. The distance between the figure and the explosion becoming much more visible and any danger they might have appeared in from the front view would be less from an angle.

What encapulates this sequence, make it seem like a finished piece?

The tent standing alone in the field with no indication of what it happening is a good start to the sequence. Going beyond the final image of the explosion would start to be a bit of an anti-climax.

The mushroom shape of the explosion has that atomic bomb look and with the total destruction of the tent hints at the total ending that the detonation of a nuclear weapon can have.

What do you think are the influences that led to this work?

swissinfo (2014) describes an exhibition of some of his work at the Kunstmuseum St Gallen, the article also includes snipits from an interview with him.

Signer is an artist whose work is well known for its use of explosions. ‘”An explosion is not, for me, destruction, but a transformation”‘ he is quoted as saying in the interview. ‘”One form becoming another does not always have to be destructive.”‘

During the interview he also indicated that he dislikes being referred to as ‘”an artist of explosion”‘.

I feel that with this particular work transformation is what influences it but also Signer’s dislike of being seen as someone who is known for his explosive works.

Do you think these influences affect the way we see it?

If we know what influences went into creating a piece of art then I think it has to influence how we see it. If we know that the artist was in pain when we they created a work then that will infuence us and we will somehow see that pain in the piece, if they were happy then we will seek out that influence in even the darkest of creations.

With Signer’s Zelt knowing that his work is influenced by transformation then it influences how I see the piece.

When I look at the series of images then I see the tent as a place that provides shelter, but then changes very quickly, to something that is life threatening and dangerous.

His dislike of people seeing him as an artist just for his explosions makes the running figure representative of this dislike. The figure running away from the exploding tent feels like the artist trying to distance himself from the work he is known for.

I also think that how we view a piece of work is influenced by our own thoughts, ideas and feelings, and that is something to be aware of because it can make us see meaning in pieces of art that weren’t there when created by the artist.


  1. swissinfo (2014) The subtle and moving art of Roman Signer Available at: https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/culture/retrospective-of-a-trailblazer_the-subtle-and-moving-art-of-roman-signer/40577228 [Accessed 27th February 2018]