The central element of the project is a software, based on artificial intelligence, which autonomously generates an infinite amount (at least in theory) of different national identities: an endless production of flags, mottos, coats of arms and anthems. The prototype of the software was created in the summer of 2020.
This software adapts to each individual identity consumer. One will be assigned a naval−Balkan−libertarian identity, another a Slovenian−clerical−vegan, someone else an anti-vaxxer−anarcho−orthodox, a punk−Vojvodinian−incel, or a European−new-age−Sumatran. The identities are multiplied fractally, ad infinitum. The populations of symbols are reproducing like Internet memes or Darwin’s finches.
The exhibition presents various visual, textual, and audio outputs of the software, first and foremost the physical flags (made of cotton or silk), the prints on the gallery walls and an interactive webpage, exhibited in the gallery, that enables visitors to generate their own individual – and truly individualistic – symbolic identity (precisely at that very moment, because a moment later, their flag might look completely different).
The Fractal Nations programme visualizes the fragmentary logic of the social relationships governed by the digital capital. The artificial intelligence algorithms produce media content infinitely, while the post-proletarian unnecceseriat, desperately helpless and lonely, clings to any symbol available. These (pseudo)random identifications produce useless fronts that are not only unable to stand up to the real power structures, but actually help these algorithms better recognize, cluster, monitor and ideologically pit people against each other. Thus, the purposelessness of these people who must be governed, but cannot be made useful, is further highlighted.
The essence of the idea is the tension between the symbolic and the material. In the words of the philosopher Boris Buden: “The identity is the bone you are thrown to gnaw on before they bleed you dry.” This is happening increasingly faster in the digital society, accompanied by the hyperinflation of all kinds of symbols and narratives. The flags become as cheap and as expendable as the Internet memes. This type of narrative schizophrenia is employed as a useful social tactic, because as long as we are part of the proprietary, financial and production power structures, it is entirely irrelevant which symbols we decide to surround ourselves with.
Instead of the Non-Aligned – All-Alligned.
The project was originally produced by Dom kulture Studentski grad in Belgrade, as part of the international project “They: Live – Student lives revealed through context-based art practices", co-financed by the Creative Europe Programme and the Ministry of Culture and Information of the Republic of Serbia.
Uroš Krčadinac (b. 1984) is a Belgrade-based digital artist, technologist, writer, and educator. His transmedia practice involves computer programming, writing, design, animation, and mapmaking. His research has been published by IEEE scientific journals, his artworks presented at re:publica, Emily Car University, SASA Academy Gallery, Serbian Museum of Science and Technology, and many more. He received his PhD in Informatics from the University of Belgrade. He currently works as an Assistant Professor of Digital Art and Computing at the Faculty of Media and Communications in Belgrade.