Authors: Jurica Mlinarec, Filipa Bobinac, Klara Burić
At the crossroads of speculative design and transhumanism, the artist creates an object which simultaneously expands and reduces the capacities of the human body. The utilitarian object encompasses a meeting point of the author's interests in researching the concept of the technologized body, psychoacoustics, as well as ideas about potential products and marketing campaigns to launch them into potential markets. The object, which is inspired by horse blinkers, is a technological gadget installed on a person's head in order to halt the flow of peripheral information. While suggesting the radical way of fulfilling the need to focus and eliminate unnecessary information by way of additional auditory impulses which monitor the object’s effectiveness through aggressive or relaxing effect respectively, the author enters the sphere of speculation about the products of the future.
Using eye-tracking technology, information on the consumer's erroneous movement in the public space is gathered, with regards to their reluctance to peripheral sensory challenges. Such cases are tackled with auditory solutions with the possibility to correct and remedy. In such a way, the product not only enables immediate stabilization, but also assures the possible long-term regulatory power by applying the conditioning method. It might be that the act of creating the technologically upgraded body the most explicitly suggests various ambivalent levels of the relationship between the man and the machine – is technology a tool used to perpetuate the system of subordination or does it raise new questions concerning the understanding of the human body through the medium of technology? Flexible, plastic and prone to modifications, the body challenges conventional borders between man and machine, and a cyborg body poses questions about body and subject in which rigidly defined humanistic antithetic positions meet. Nevertheless, the question of motivation to amplify and upgrade the human body’s possibilities is reassessed through a Darwinist prism of the struggle to perfect the body so it can keep up with the new conditions in conquering or keeping the position of power. In this view, a kind of transhuman enthusiasm is also ambivalently examined in theory – is it about a shift, a certain defeat of humanistically defined assumptions, gaining perspective on the understanding of the human body or identity, or it is about their intensification?
Authors: Marianna Nardini, Magdalena Komar, Adriana Sudarić
In each moment we find ourselves in a superposition of images, sounds and sensations. In the present art work, superposition is used as a continual, non-linear sequencing of stimuli which paves the way for perception and sensation. Guided by internal narrative, we decipher the external as well as internal stimuli in our minds and compress them into our completely (un)usual form of existence called everyday life. Its cyclical nature opens up numerous opportunities for development and expression, yet at the same time, its continual mechanism alienates us from the complete experience of the moment (and of ourselves). Repetition can lead to mastery, but it can also easily lead to dilution (for example, the loss of motivation for self-improvement caused by the habit which becomes an end in itself). The society rears, connects, complicates, suffocates, cures, encourages, supports. One of the inherent properties of the man is the ability to cope with the eternal multitude, with the eternal and layered state of fluidity, with the contradiction and dissonance.
When one observes the constituent parts of the entire system, everyday life and balanced functioning do not seem like a self-evident state of the spirit. What is in the background of (the habit of) living? How to define the human condition? How do we code circumstances; comprehend the surroundings? What sort of a being is a human? In understanding all of this, the fact that in each moment a being is located in multiple dimensions must be accounted for. The material dimension includes the body and the physical conditions we experience, sensory perceptions, mind reactions to external stimuli; whether the reaction is physical and/or affective. On the other hand, the metaphysical dimension implies an area of existence led by the narrative of one’s own thoughts, a structure of concepts and values which are inherent and unique to every living being, an individual’s secrets and impossible desires as well as basic emotions.
Amidst all of this, the occurrence of alienation establishes an interesting condition. The feeling of dissociation can be compared to a computer troubleshooter1, to an external occurrence which indicates and reveals the error. The mere pointing to the error uncovers an absurdity. The occurrence of dissociation is key to determining the distinctiveness of the human condition. It is part of the human programme which allows us to experience the third person from the point of view of the first person and provides insight into the complexity of the human spirit. At the moment of dissociation we assume the role of a scientist who interprets (dissects) their own consciousness and surroundings. A moment of alienation places an individual into the most honest form of existence. Every norm, every concept, construct and lie are eliminated. Honesty, uniqueness and rebellion against repression lie in discomfort. In discomfort, the personal transcends the systematic.
Every individual does not only exist in their own vacuum of reality, but is present in the everyday life of others like a background actor. The relations between individuals can be close, distant, or even non-existent. However, independently from the type of relation, the projections of our being are multiplied in accordance with the number of subjects. Ultimately, the society is an entity existing in various dimensions; it builds its identity in different forms. Fascination for understanding these multidimensional constructs led us to the ontological dissection which we use to uncover the essence of our likeable and unusual species obsessed with ideas and concepts.
In the draft of Ontological dissections we suggest different approaches to solving the issue of the insight into the cacophony of reality. The suggestions of the research process, that is, the art works, were conceived in a way to require interaction so that the visitors can transfer and apply the experience to their everyday life.
In the contemporary information world exposed to media, where we face the dominance and the reign of the image and the screen, the fragments of consciousness are broken into even tinier pieces. According to Baudrillard, this results in perceptive and sensory receptors constructed from simulation and simulacrum2, the occurrence of which is becoming so normalized that their role and influence in everyday life is indisputable. One of the solutions to the visitors approaching and facing the hyperreality3 of their awareness (which is based on the perception of the surroundings as a polysemous whole) is through the setup of the gallery space in the form of its spatial materialization. The visitor is immersed into the consciousness, thereby experiencing the sensations of all the senses which lead them to execute and face their own consciousness, which is permeated with the installation reflection.
One of the possibilities is a camera obscura set up in a busy part of the city (such as the Trešnjevka market). The light image could be live-streamed in the gallery. Camera obscura would re-shape a particular public space into a string of silhouettes deprived of character and uniqueness. Thereby, the gallery space has to be arranged so that only one visitor at a time can enter. That way, the visit is converted into a personal experience and the me-consciousness relationship is established. The art work would be executed digitally, with the help of a computer or a smartphone which would allow further dissecting and displaying aspects of reality. The visitor would have the ability to experience extended reality via an app. The chosen objects and focal points in the exhibition area would be enhanced with additional interpretation by viewing the screen (of one’s own phone or computer). As follows, the visitor would have the ability to see written data and information on the history of the objects in the gallery area by clicking on an object in their device. The logical order of expanding the content would follow the principle of image-word-story. For example, the visitor would have the ability to click on the objects and the parts of the room in the image of the digitally enhanced room. The first step in the exploration would be the choice of an object. By clicking on the chosen object, a wider display of the room is shown and it takes on a textual form. Each constituent would be represented with a word in the room which, at that moment, becomes analogous to the written word on a paper. The room would be a tabula rasa which is filled with personal content. By clicking on a word, a story which represents the “personal history” of the object would be uncovered – what the object “has been through”, what kind of a relationship it has with the owner of the room. The observer would, in the inherent logical order, relate it to their own emotions. Furthermore, using the association principle, the visitor would create further mental associations. An ideal production of this approach would allow every individual to scan their own personal spaces and archive the unique history of the objects and related associations.
In order to make the work accessible to the audience which does not enjoy visiting galleries and museums, we came up with an analogue approach, which implies a book of target issues. That is, a manual which helps direct the non-visitor’s attention to the classification of elements which compose the cacophony of reality. An exhibition area is not necessary in this approach since ontological dissection is a process which does not depend on a specific location or room shape. The manual would be divided into units concerning the analyses of different aspects of reality. Some of the units would contain subsections, for example, the Body unit would concern the sensations and the experience of the personal body and the body of another, movement, pain, sexuality, view of personal space. What is more, questions would be used to direct the reader to the related units (for example, Mind or Society). The Mind unit would concern the identity issues regarding the outside world, identity in intimate thoughts, identity in relation to different social circumstances (which would be revised in, for example, the Society and relations unit). The ontological dissection manual uses the method of asking questions to raise awareness of certain perspectives and provide insight into the complexity of reality. Its objective is to encourage mental work, which is often simplified or neglected due to information overload or lack of time.
The aforementioned suggestions for materialization of reality dissection and facing the consciousness would encourage the visitor to actively reflect on the mutual bond between the reality perception created by our mind and the perception of the surroundings. In terms of ontology, our consciousness consists of an infinite number of small universes and dimensions which make a harmonic whole. These worlds complement each other, they communicate and they are in a continually dynamic state affected by our thoughts, perceptions, emotions and intuitions, which are also conditioned by external influences. With our senses we simultaneously process and handle various types of information which are gathered into a harmonic whole like unrelated fragments. By dwelling constantly in our consciousness, we neglect its abilities and the disharmonious harmony it embodies. We focus only on some of its parts, not viewing it as a unique whole. It is always indirectly related to our surroundings and the environment around us, thereby creating the causal connection between the two worlds. It is precisely the reflection of this complementation that constitutes the essence of consciousness. We hope that his approach would remind us of the complexity, beauty, humour and the nausea of our own endless worlds.
1 A troubleshooter is a system that recognizes and resolves errors that occur in a program, machine, or a system. Its task is to systematically and logically look for the cause of the problem in order to completely solve it and enable the system to restart it’s function. The most common principle used is the elimination process.
2 Simulacrum is a term of Latin origin that is identified, translated and marked as a dream, apparition, image and opportunity, apparition. It originally referred to images or representations of deities, with an emphasis on those worshiped in temples. In free translation, this term refers to a false reality that has the potential to replace real reality.
3 Hyperreality is a term used in semiotics, poststructuralism, and postmodernism to define the inability of consciousness to distinguish reality from its simulation, especially in the technologically advanced modern world.
VGA (Virtual Gallery of the Academy)
Authors: Sara Brašnović, Josip Drdić, Mihaela Zajec
VGA is an acronym for the Virtual Gallery of the Academy project, which manifests itself in a form of an open profile on Instagram social network and works as a publicly accessible virtual gallery made up of student art and visual production all over Croatia. Even though the project started at an earlier time, outside the Short Circuit context, the team decided to investigate and re-examine established exhibiting models and practices, as well as transformation, transfer and interdependence of both physical and virtual spaces.
Encouraged by the collaboration achieved during the MI-machine project, with innovative deliberation regarding space correlation, VGA was from the very beginning defined as a model through which we are trying to detect and review concepts of student action, publicly available information, audience reinforcement but also virtual reality dependability which has become increasingly current.
By comparing the tradition of European art and the definition of space in modern art, the following distinction can be made: (1) the revival of surface in paintings is a process of transforming the actual canvas surface into a virtual space that represents and symbolizes the artistic vision (traditional view); (2) realization of the surface in painting is a process of reducing and transforming the virtual space into an actuality and specificity of the existent canvas space (modernistic view)4.
Modern times is the legacy of the reduction and transformation of the virtual space into actuality. The art is, in itself, a virtual phenomenon because of its basic elements, like points and lines, because they do not exist in nature but imitate it. With the emergence of man and the development of civilization, appeared one of the most unnatural forms, a square; the basic unit on which perception understanding and virtuality existence rests (e.g. pixel). The Renaissance greatly contributed to this state of mind because the presence of virtuality in reality became possible with the discovery of geometric perspective. By using the grid, geometric perspective presents three dimensions as two (3D into 2D), with its base in a square which in Renaissance symbolizes a man. In that moment, the man closes himself in space: virtual occurrence which works according to the principle of relations, formed by the established sense of dimension that conditions the perception of space, and therefore reality.
With the development of art, from point, line to appearance of space (as a concept), we can observe the gradual transition of virtual into actual space that governs our relationship within it. If the space works by the principle of relations and dimensions, and they are present only because of its conceptual form that doesn’t exist in nature, then our perception is by itself virtual. Reflections expressed in this text want to call in question the existence of measuring within time and space.
Space defines us, encloses us and creates the need for measurement. What we measure is ourselves, that is, the consciousness which is through art stored within the matter and placed in space in order to transform into a virtual experience, a physical reality. Today, it comes in a form of information that is implemented into virtual space through digital media. Perception of reality through digital, as a mediator between the virtual and the real, correlates with exhibiting art in a gallery. It (the gallery space) is a medium through which art is displayed, according to the same principle as the digital media that presents and transmits reality into virtual space.This experimental work would thus, by merging with VGA, directly re-examine and dissect the understanding of space: from physical and gallery to virtual and digital. Gallery space has developed as a place where something can be presented and exhibited but still feels like it’s not fully utilized, and according to our existing experience and practice, became socially closed. Due to the digitalization, virtual space contributes greatly to this state because of its convenience of always being readily available, leading us to experience the actual space as less interactive.
In our initial thoughts regarding the VGA we adopted the form of digitally reproducing the visual artworks, realizing that a great part of human life has transitioned into the digital sphere nowadays. We became aware that it is fast becoming a domicile environment for social occurrences, social interaction but also activism, as well as a source of information and a space for work and action. Representation in the online world is becoming an inevitable part of presenting oneself as an author, and by doing this, VGA provides those students who, for various reasons, refuse (or are unable) to create social media profiles equal opportunities and positions. Virtual presence practically replaced the role of what once were ateliers- through artists’ social media profiles, he or she informs the interested public about his or hers work process and finished products; in later stages such as, for example, applying for specific competitions, programs and the like, it is a common practice to create and share social media profiles as a replacement for ones’ portfolio.
It is through the transition of representation and visitors’ entry into the digital sphere that a greater representation of art is made possible, which emerges from often overly airtight, vocational space into the one of the masses or wider audience. We consider that works of art that are not digital born imply physically present views and are, therefore, faced with a need to create a space that pervades various environments. Consulting available reference works, comparing different practices (including those outside the realm of culture), brainstorming, we were able to come up with several options, from which the idea of public space seemed the most appropriate.
The counterpart of virtual space within physical reality, similar in terms of accessibility, publicity and regular presence of the general public has been found within the sphere of public space. It offers a complete solution to all the requirements, as well as raising further questions about transformation of currently owned, digitally formatted works of art.Virtually and digitally present works would be transferred simultaneously into a physical space, but with presenting pieces of artistic work though projecting them on/into public space. Other options aimed at keeping the presentation strictly virtual, that is, transferring artwork reproductions that have lost their materiality but still exist in pixel form. We also addressed problems regarding space-time relationship with opportunities to place mentioned works in the form of live stream channels that make them inseparable from the current space while simultaneously projecting them in several places.
Aim of these experiments is to enable free movement from virtuality to reality. It tries to consider advantages and disadvantages of merging them and the possibilities of mutual improvement. Is digital technology the only link between virtual and real space and how can we enable them to interact with each other? What are the possibilities of implementing virtual space and the impact of digital technology into real, physical aspect? How does their merging affect society and how to, with all its positive and negative aspects, consummate such a unique space? When and for what reason did the need for the virtual space in art arise?
4 Šuvaković, M. Glossary of Contemporary Art, p. 519