Ernst Miesgang


Ernst Miesgang aka Friend Five is a visual artist from Vienna, Austria who works with very different media such as photography, sculpture and collage. He studied art and photography at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. His work has been exhibited in Austria, Germany, the UK, Russia, Finland and Greece. An overview of his art can be found on his website

In his series THE DELUSIONS OF FRIEND FIVE he is focusing on manipulation of old photographs from the beginning of the 20th century, bought on flea markets and in antiques stores. Inspired by dadaism, surrealism, literature, movies, pop culture, street art and so on, Friend Five´s images are inviting you to a journey through a strange world that seems similar to ours - but is completely different.


When editing historical photographs, Miesgang makes a point of preserving the original character of the picture. Damage and defects are welcomed style elements and influence the final outcome, suggesting authenticity and originality. While some photo manipulations are simple and fast procedures, more complex editing processes can last up to 30 hours. “With some pictures I immediately know what to do but others spend months in a drawer before I have that one exciting idea” says Miesgang.

He uses Photoshop and the occasional 3D-software to create picture elements for his compositions. The serial images of THE DELUSIONS OF FRIEND FIVE are toying with the beholder’s perception. Old photographs that have been discarded by their original owners are given a second life and a new context by way of the artist’s editing. The historical origin is combined with digital picture editing to manipulate the photos, pretending to be authentic and thereby creating visual anachronisms that attract the eye. What is real and what has been added - or removed - by the artist?

French illusionist and filmmaker Georges Méliès was using special effects films to amaze audiences as early as the beginning of the 20th century. Today the same effects seem crude and quite easy to understand, but back then they sent shivers down the spines of the audience. Image editing has become a mainstream pastime thanks to modern digital technology and is no longer the exclusive domain of experts. At the same time, deepfake pictures and videos can no longer be identified with the naked eye. The question of authenticity of the pictures surrounding us will soon experience a massive boost in importance. We cannot trust our eyes anymore. As Magritte said “Ceci n’est pas une pipe.“