Bojan Gagić (HR) 12 Dead Birds

The artistic idea behind Bojan Gagić’s artwork "12 Dead Birds" relates primarily to research and rethinking of relations between the digital and physical world, their common characteristics and possible extensions. A genetic code is gathered from the digital object and, during further processing, transformed into a music DNA score, with the final form being an auditive image of that same object. In this artwork, Gagić rethinks the wider usage of old software that has been deprived of its function, for which it has been created. He then uses this software in his artistic creation, fostering in this manner the formation of new research directions in new media artistic practices.

On the occasion of the 43rd World Communications Day (23rd October 2009), Pope Benedict XVI has officially proclaimed the digital media as a new digital continent. This proclamation of the Catholic church on the topic of digital system development has been awaited for the last 30 years, since it became clear that the development of personal computers and similar devices are the pivotal technological innovation of the 21st century. Yet the definition was not clear until the social digital communications systems emerged.

If we look more carefully into this definition, we can see that the word continent is the most interesting part of it – and this continent can be defined as an interconnected mass of the Earth’s surfaces. A continent has two main characteristics: it has its own borders (water) and it is populated by living beings. In determining the borders of a digital continent, we can easily conclude that these borders are represented by the physical world. Much like the continents rising from the water surrounding them, digital media also exists within the physical reality. It is much more difficult to determine the inhabitants of this digital continent; we can conclude that it is populated by different digital codes, sequences linked together to form content comprehensible to human beings (images, films, text, tools and similar). But how can they be defined in the context of the living/non-living? Although all digital content is defined as a cluster of information not belonging to the biological world, we need to state that each of these digital entries has its form, colour, shape, meaning, and a certain energy structure.

The seriousness of this hypothesis is becoming evident in the development of the cyber proto-science during the past few years in which different types of digital bio-implants are being used more and more in order to facilitate/expand the possibilities of communication methods’. For example, some of them refer to implanting microchips for control or inhibition that allow identification and detection of health conditions of a biological subject, or expanding the basic sensory capabilities so that different types of radiation can be located, infrared soundwaves heard, much larger light spectrum seen etc.

So, who lives on the digital continent?
Can we determine the code systems as a certain form of life known to us?
What kind of new artistic forms can come out of this systematization?

In the early 90s, programmer John F. Dunn and biologist Mary Anne Clarc presented ArtWonk – one of the first public software for analysis and conversion of DNA and protein sequences. The software has been designed for the purpose of analyzing and converting data stored in the existing genetic banks into sound and image data. It was the result of their decade-long research during which they worked on translating complex bio-data repositories into numeric protocols that can be used in sonification processes. Simultaneously, Nobuo Munakata and Kenshi Hayashi also deal with analysis and mathematical translation of DNA systems, advocating as well for the sonification process.

In the artwork "12 Dead Birds", Gagić achieves the translation of the binary code of the file by changing the extension of any file in the computer to the .txt unicode entry. This entry is analysed in the Dunn/Clarc BioEditor that searches the given material with the aim of discovering simple genetic sequences (DNA and protein series) found in the digital entry. There are thousands of these sequences, even in the simplest digital organisms such as ordinary .jpeg photographs. It must be noted that each file is made of unique genetic material. In the next phase, the selected genetic material is being transformed into .mid files using already established patterns of converting genetic sequences into sheet music. In short, the file that is being analysed within the media in which it had been created is defined as a living being. From its genetic structure, a new basic structure of the musical record is derived.

(Based on a text written by Bojan Gagić)

The exhibition is part of the annual programme marking the 20th anniversary of KONTEJNER | bureau of contemporary art praxis.

Production: KONTEJNER
Co-production: Greta Creative Network

Bojan Gagić (HR)

Bojan Gagić started his artistic work in the late 80s with performances and actions mostly related to Sarajevo based group Neue Urform and Zagreb art collectives Kokowa, Rotor and Clair Obscure. In the late 90s, he started working on different theatre projects through MAPA – Moving Academy for Performing Arts platform, and participated in theatre productions, multimedia content creation, sound and light design. He also collaborated on numerous projects that question our relation to death with the artist Josip Zanki (Mirila, Enciklopedija mrtvih, Mrtvi ste?, Kako objasniti mast mrtvom Beuysu?). He is the author of numerous exhibitions, installations, and performances in Croatia and abroad. He systematically deals with sound art and field recording, publishes poetry in literature magazines and works on the technical realization of theatre, film and music festivals. He also writes music for short experimental and animated films by mostly local authors. Together with Miodrag Gladović, he has developed a performance technique called luminoacoustics based on the transformation of light into sound through photovoltaic effect of solar panels. He is the co-founder of the Zagreb platform for new sound expressions Sinelinea. He was rewarded several times for his artistic work: third place in the Guthman New Musical Competition (competition in creation of new music instruments), Georgia Tech University, Atlanta, SAD, 2012; second place for the multimedia content of the Croatian EXPO pavilion in 2012; audience award at competition for Croatian contemporary artists (2014) and special recognition of the Venice Biennial jury for sound and light design of the installation by the architect Ana Dana Beroš in 2015.

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