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ART-e-FACT, STRATEGIES OF RESISTANCE   ISSUE #03, TECHNOMYTHOLOGIES
 

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Original Adidas, Vlad Nanca
Original Adidas
Vlad Nanca


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Flags
Oliver Musoviќ

Cardboard Maps
Ferhat Özgür

Original Adidas
Vlad Nanca

K9 Compassion
Zlatko Kopljar

On "Kiezism"
Ingo Vetter and Annette Weisser

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K9 Compassion
Zlatko Kopljar


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Souvenirs Made In
Lara Badurina

To Transform the Political Speech in Facts, Finally.
Carlos Garaicoa

Model City
Bik Van der Pol

THE ELABORATION OF CULTURE IS TOWARDS MULTIPLE TRANSNATIONAL INFRASTRUCTURE ECONOMIES
Hilary Koob-Sassen

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CRITICAL
INFLATABLE CITIES - FROM GROWING TO SHRINKING
 
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In/Out, in again...
Reality peeping into the home of the Swiss ambassador to Sofia.
1999 (detail from a cycle)
Luchezar Boyadjiev



 

Movables. My Room
The porosity of postmodern worlds: my intimate space is where memories of other spaces are interjected.
1998

Luchezar Boyadjiev

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The Delocalizing Gaze (Luchezar Boyadjiev reshuffling the city)

The artist of today is not one who is creating but one who is reshuffling signs. Leonardo or Shakespeare would be at best producers of decorative kitsch, at worst – ideologists fortifying the trust in the system. Already in the 50s and 60s the Situationists found themselves in this impasse – the world overflows with meanings; there is no more nature that one can model. They offered two alternatives: the detouring (détournement) of the dominating semiotic order and the construction of situations.

The detouring has been practiced ever since Dada (take Mona Lisa, paint moustache). The construction of situations provides a certain totalizing element. The main work of art is life itself, which is being organized as resistance to the dominating symbolic order. But what is life? Unlike their predecessors – Wagner, Tolstoy and Bogdanov – the Situationists did not believe in the mystical substance of the subject. The stage they were to perform their detours could only be the material trace of living, the city. The total spectacle which power is organizing for us is unfolding in space, resistance will have to unfold in space as well.

What do we call a city? The city surrounded with a magic furrow, and which can be undone only if the furrow is ploughed in reverse; the City of God as a moral, utopian task; the city of fraternization, the collective feeding ritual founding the inhabitants’ fraternity; the city that is constructing triumphal arches to welcome the ruler which it is to “wed”; the temple-city, the market-city, the privilege-city…

Since the middle of the 19th century the city has been encompassing man with an ever-denser wall of virtual images. By this I mean images of things we know to be located elsewhere. The Neo-Classical, Neo-Gothic, Neo-Baroque or Neo-Byzantine styles in urban construction that were meant to legitimize the new forms of statehood are good examples of that: here, in the modern city, you read architectural quotations from other epochs suggesting tradition, stability and so on. Take advertising, take the increasingly rapid changes in the fashions for cloths, cars, goods, names of restaurants and the exotic cuisine served there… – more and more otherness is injected into urban space. This is the very definition of urbanity: a space saturated with otherness (The city is the motherland of foreigners, says Montesquieu). Therefore, adding a virtual dimension to the city spectacle intensifies the city principle itself: more and more otherness per square inch.

The city is a total spectacle and, as Guy Debord used to insist, a spectacle signifies passivity; the spectacle is a kind of a social relation, which transforms the spectator into a submissive consumer of meanings. There is only one way to resist: the detouring of the mighty streams of signs in order to construct situations through which the individual will disturb the total spectacle, they will create unexpected semiotic contexts and re-appropriate the space that has already been expropriated by power.

What exactly the Situationists had in mind when they were talking about constructing situations, is hard to see today. The main thing, though, is that these are non-spectacles. Power is staging triumphal arches and fields of Mars, but instead of freezing in reverence, you are drawing around idiotic zigzags, trying to pee somewhere in the shadows.

 
Hot City Visual. Detail - Hot Line for Visual Irregularities
Someone does his/her laundry within the temple of power...
2003
Luchezar Boyadjiev

 
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The urban reshufflings of L.B. are thinkable only in the context of the total spectacle, in a world that has been filled up with meanings. There are digitalized soldiers, Gypsies and stray dogs peering through the windows of the residency of the Swiss Ambassador in Sofia. A century ago this would have been considered a critical-realist action – harsh social reality is reflected and framed in didactics by the humanist artist.

There are no social suggestions in the works of L.B. since social layers themselves are not related in a hierarchy. There is nobody to sympathize with anybody else. One day the Ambassador turned up in Sofia, whether via Swiss Air or the computer, it doesn’t really matter – it is as simple as that. Some are here, others are there and the question is not about who is happier than somebody else but about the arbitrary way in which they are differentiated.

Spatiality is articulated differently. Instead of isolating myself with fences, instead of piling up feathers and straws in the nest of my private world, today I am piercing its walls with as many openings as possible. The space, which is the most intimate, the most “mine”, is where there are the most screens, frames, windows, etc., i.e. it is the space saturated with as much otherness as possible. In other words, the urban principle has been transferred to the private sphere; the private is urbanized, it becomes a coexistence of otherness. Or to use the language of an earlier work by L.B., my intimate space is the space where images from a different space where I used to live can be projected. This is how things are seen by psychology. Unconsciously in a new home we always look for traces of the old one, which is the source of the strange un-coziness (which Freud calls das Unheimliche) caused by forgotten infantile fears and suppressed desires. The literalization of the memory, its projection on a semi-transparent screen, abolishes the dramatic tension between memory and forgetfulness. The time (of forgetting, of remembering) is shortened, and the two spaces coexist one next to the other. One may see it as a kind of depressive surrealism.

Let me emphasize that this is not about illusion. A full transfer into the other space, as can be experienced in holographic shows at theme parks or under the helmet of the computer simulator, would still be part of the spectacle. The aesthetic the artist is searching for is in the literalization of the single-spaced-ness, in the shock of curtailment of time.

The post-local society provides you with opportunities to be constantly elsewhere. In the intimate space of your room there is the TV or computer screen where various political, scientific, intimate, etc. events take place. You sit at a table with some people talking on the phone to others. You look for the most exotic touristic stage in order to feel you come from somewhere else. You hunt for signs of the latest fashion; you fall in love with new sounds, and new food... This is a continuous absent-mindedness, or rather, split-mindedness.

We are here at the heart of progress. Freud says, my daughter, for example, is in the US, but she could call me any time over the phone. And this is progress. But is not progress itself – the steam engines, the ships, etc. – the cause of father and daughter being thousands of miles apart? The undertaking is rather ambiguous: on one side progress is separating us, but on the other it is connecting the newly formed fragments. If the world was not fragmented then space would be a pile of huge unarticulated lumps (Freud and his daughter happily living together); however, had technical means not provided for a new kind of fragmented togetherness, then the world would have been as atomized as Hanna Arendt describes it in the totalitarian society (the two are irreversibly separated). Since L.B. does not want to waste our time, he expresses this complex concept through the instantaneity of the “cut and paste” command.

By dissolving into fragments you are slipping out of the place where they can get you, in order to avoid sanction. You are no longer where they are looking for you; you have projected desire onto another self. The freer you are, the more fragments there are. At the end of the process there is the total collapse of space, everything has infiltrated everything else according to the rhizome principle. Everybody is simultaneously everywhere, i.e. nowhere. At this point, the word “sanction” has no longer any meaning, because everyone has found themselves at both of its ends – they are at the same time sanctioned and sanctioning, an executioner and a victim. That is the utopia point. You are never separated from anything, but you are never irreversibly linked to anything either; you are not dead, but you are not really alive either.

One can get to the utopia of mono-space through the high technology of the first world, as well as through the entropy of the third world, i.e. as much via division, regulation, and articulation, as via interiorization, imitation, ambiguity. In the first instance the subject keeps the process increasingly under control that is symbolized, say, by the scepter of the remote control, which makes it possible for them to zap faster and faster from screen to screen; in the second instance the subject has less and less power to stop the avalanche of announcements on the trees, stenciled T-shirts or neighbors’ parties from invading his/her world. This stems from the ambiguous core of desire, which asks for the sanction and at the same time wants to avoid it. Needless to say, the two processes are simultaneous, i.e. if high up on top of the buildings more and more specific advertising campaigns are unfolding, then low down in the gutter, a deeper and deeper visual mud is being deposited.

 

Hot City Visual. Billboard in city center, advertisement campaign for "Stefan's Brigade (and his sons-in-law)"
Reshuffling urban hierarchies: Gypsy porters where you are conditioned to expect Californian beauties.
2003

Luchezar Boyadjiev

 
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The reshufflings of L.B. follow Nietzsche’s logic: what is shaking should be shoved away. If the locations in the world surrounding us are irreversibly sticking together, he is there to give a hand in order to get rid of the last remaining principles of differentiation. Take the horizontal. At the accessible to the human hand locations on the lower street level people are pasting self-made advertisements. The higher you go the more you need ladders, permissions and scale; with height the prices get higher as well. High – expensive, low – cheap; high up are the all-powerful corporations, at the lowest level is the neighborhood craftsman. The natural grinning Roma ends up on the façade usually reserved for transnational beauties; the neighborhood key maker is taking over the place of the Philips logo.

The reshufflings performed by L.B. reveal the arbitrariness of this seemingly physical reality. Did we not think until recently that it is somehow normal that there should be sacral places, festive places, market places, and intimate places? Christians oriented their graves to the East, Muslims avoided urinating in the direction of Mecca, and geomancers built their houses according the earth’s magnetic fields. Then, one day somebody put an icon in their living room, while somebody else installed the bowl of their lavatory without using a compass… Then there came L.B. and out of an anonymous window on the Parliament building somebody hung their laundry, while on top of the Presidential office building a new neon sign “President AG” appears. Everything is possible especially when everything is virtual. By the way, there is another literalism here because “virtual” means “possible”.

Now we understand why L.B. has become so addicted to the computer that he even uses it to draw the houses of the Old City of Plovdiv from life. The computer is the very form of confusion - it is the collapse of space. I do not have in mind monumental illusions built up by power with a lot of money, equipment and ideological investment, but an amateur, almost childish game – he can steal the figure of the Tsar Liberator off his horse, he can put guards of honor in front of the key maker’s “office” not to convey some glorious idea, but just in order to confuse the places. Purposefulness without purpose.

Do we need different spaces in order to be human? Is the collapse of space not going to cause the disappearance of desire as well, which is, as Lacan says, motivated by prohibition, by otherness?

I do not know if the digital pantheism of L.B. has a critical potential. In a way, there is no other artist who is less critical in the traditional modernist sense of the word. You just need to recall his work where he calculated the exact cost of his creative persona to foreign sponsors. His main method is to stage depression, his own absence – look, there are two colliding spaces but I am not here. On the other hand, the “I am not here” could be interpreted as an accusation against a world that has left no room for me. It is the aporia we now know to have no answer.

The problem of the Situationists was that the spectacle spilled over the whole social sphere. It is not just diffuse, as Debord has it, in the sense of being scattered around in fragments. It is reflexive in the sense of being interiorized. The spectacle is everywhere because humans self-stage themselves everywhere. They see themselves in images, roles, and narratives (including the narrative of the constructor of situations who is struggling with the spectacle). Because the problem is not in the saturation of reality with meaningful objects, but rather its transformation into an object of the all-seeing gaze. The problem is cultural panopticum. The noble savage of Rousseau found himself in a TV game where the most natural one will get the big prize. In this sense, in playing “everything is possible” we speak not so much about the world, as about the new way in which we see it: not as a reality, but as a possibility.





CONTENTS







ART & THEORY
Kiezism, Ingo Vetter and Annette Weisser
On "Kiezism"
Ingo Vetter and Annette Weisser

"INFLATABLE" CITIES

Berlin: Potsdam Square Messed Up
Frank Winter

Detroit: Making It Better for You (A Fiction)
Kyong Park

The Delocalizing Gaze (Luchezar Boyadjiev reshuffling the city)
Ivaylo Ditchev

Invisible Zagreb
Platforma 9.81

New Belgrade: The Capital of No-City's-Land
Ljiljana Blagojević



ART WORK
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