Change the Colour!
The exhibition of the BridA art collective (Sendi Mango, Jurij Pavlica, Tom Kerševan) represents a selected overview of their work that has been followed closely in MGLC ever since 2007. Their first appearance in MGLC was in 2008, when they participated at the exhibition A Third Look – The multiplicity of graphic art today with a series of computer graphics entitled Printed Circuit Boards (PCB). A year later they participated at the 28th Biennial of Graphic Arts with the project Trackeds 1.0 – Como and in 2010 they displayed their series of paintings Modux Datascapes: Ljubljana 2010 at the exhibition We want to be free as the fathers were. The collective was formed in 1996 at the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice, when the members with a traditional education in painting and graphic prints started to cooperate and jointly think about the creative processes and roles in art. The members of the collective use their projects to treat and emphasise the role of the individual within the collective. They research the meaning of collective creativity and authorship, the role of the artist in society and the importance of the creative processes. They pay special attention to the research of graphic prints and painting, which have in their more recent projects outgrown the traditional frames of the two media and adopted the social function of art which discusses the role of the artistic creativity processes. Through their interactive projects they have also managed to actively include the public and bring them closer to the understanding of the authorship problem as well as provide them with an insight into the use of contemporary technology and scientific achievements in art.
This exhibition is especially important because it is nowadays almost impossible to see a solo presentation or a ‘historic’ overview of the work by a single author or group that would be closely linked to the development of contemporary technology and the developments in science and that tries to actualise the process as an artistic operation. These artists tend to present themselves exclusively through projects and never show their development over a longer period of time. It is therefore a question whether this is in reality a planned merger of science, technology and art or merely a fascination with the developing technology and scientific achievements. We can find the answer in some of their projects that appear completely different at first glance, however a closer look shows that they have interesting connections and a common thought process behind the conception of a work of art that is easiest understood if we step into it and experience it ourselves.
In 2007 they recorded a CD (Do It Yourself) which consisted of voice instructions that guided the listener through the process of creating a painting. This interesting project that was originally conceived already in 2003 makes us think about the concept of creating, painting, drawing, i.e. artistic creativity, while following simple instructions. Regardless of the fact that we are given instructions as to how to paint, the emerging painting overcomes and thrills us. We can see the painting emerging, how we are literary printing it line by line. In the skilfully conceived project the sound instructions can be understood as an illustration of computer software, to which we respond as an image producing machine. The process of recording or painting the thirty one lines lasts approximately one hour and is always a result of a randomly selected order (in the event that we wish to paint a number of paintings, of course). There are endless combinations of lines thus making it almost impossible for a painting to be repeated (even though it is theoretically possible). Such a mathematical (totally rationally conceived) painting is comparable to the series Modux Datascape, in which the paintings were created on the basis of calculating the collected data and then letting it down to the computer to generate objects and decide upon the number of layers that create the paintings.
Approximately halfway through the process we encounter a conflict in the instructions as we realise that the drawing process can be simplified, the form can be changed as can the colours be defined at the beginning. The automatisation of the painting process that has been with us from the very beginning is transformed into contemplation and a search for patterns. We discover sequences, logical continuations and we are disappointed if the instructions do not opt for the colour that we had foreseen in our mind and with which we would like to continue. However, if we radically and emotionally intervene in the process, we cannot bring it to an end and finish off the painting, thus we memorise all of our creative solutions, so that they can be used the next time we paint by instructions.
The DIY project is important if we want to get acquainted with the works of the BridA collective, for the experience of painting by instructions brings us closer to the ideas behind the collective and their projects. With the use of mechanical instructions they reduced the painting process into a description of the painting and brought the end product closer to the text, thus creating an analogy between the painting and the text. In this phase the artist was removed from the equation and the making of the painting was left to whoever decided to follow the instructions. It is permitted, maybe even desired, to add personal interpretation of the instructions, for this would represent a new personal and creative experience. The comparison of the numerous works that have been created with the use of these instructions could reveal the different ways in which we understand a painting, how it can be made, how long is it possible to follow instructions in a robot like manner, how long do we believe these instructions and when do we start to doubt them and start thinking about what we are doing and why. The research into the way information is passed on and the effect this has represents the core of the project that is repeated in various ways in their subsequent projects: Modux, Informational accelerator, Trackeds, etc., especially when they are interested in the treatment of the information itself, the manner of its preservation and passing on and finally also in the effect this has on the viewer.
How can we use the above described experiences to make sense of their video Lunch Break, which seems to be an error within the system? When performing the DIY project there comes a moment during which our concentration falls, when our attention to the extremely mechanical and rigid recording process escapes somewhere else, i.e., when our thoughts are not one hundred percent at our work, but we are merely following the instructions – we follow the conveyor belt, and this is when the mistakes can happen. During creative discussions and while conceiving art works we are certain to encounter the problem as to how to continue, how to develop the idea and improve it or make sense of it. When this happens we opt to search for additional knowledge, perform additional research, planning, etc. Or, we simply take a break so that we take our mind off what we are doing, and then rethink the situation with a clear mind. A similar idea can be found behind the video Lunch Break, which depicts spontaneous research into the technical and formal possibilities of filming and editing. If we take a closer look at the video that depicts the members of the group preparing for a lunch break we notice that it consists of two parts. The first part is similar to the DIY project in the sense that it is made from a static record, this time a video record that researches time and space in a way through which a number of temporally postponed records leave us in uncertainty as to what was recorded before and what later, what is in the foreground and what in the background. In the first part of the video the authors research the temporal and spatial dimensions, however in the second part this was built upon, for it is clear from the video that they started realising the possibility offered by such a recording. The members of the collective intervened into the recording with humour, for they started to perform unexpected actions – first they are sitting at the table enjoying their food, and then they sit on other people’s chairs, even though people are still sitting on them, at times all three of them sitting on a single chair and this turns the video into a sequence of unexpected actions – variables. The video can thus be linked to the DIY project as it has a controlled beginning followed by a less controlled and spontaneous action (similar to when we are painting following the sound instructions and various creative ideas that might improve or change the system creep into our thoughts). The video can also be linked to the series Modux and the paintings from the series Datascapes with which it shares the covering and modelling of space on the basis of variables, while the manipulation with information and the formal effect this has are completely comparable – the layering of surfaces is the formal starting point that becomes the conceptual base for the paintings. It would be wrong to conclude that Lunch Break was a side product of one of their larger projects, on the contrary – it is one of their major video works that helps us understand their projects in their beginnings, their conceptualisation and the research of ideas. In comparison with other works we could also set the thesis that the video emerged on the basis of the Informational accelerator – another project it can be linked with. Even though the Informational accelerator is more a formal depiction of the travels of information and its role in today’s society, it could also be understood as a futuristic tool for creating video works – especially the aforementioned Lunch Break. The video Layers, which through the layering of the picture and by merging various spatial and temporal video records researches the concept of space and time can also be placed into this segment. The videos Lunch Break and Layers can be linked to the series Trackeds and thus also with the project that followed.
The components of reality and computer generated information that builds upon this reality and makes sense of it, are researched in the work Les Mouches from 2009, in which they merged real slices of Karst prosciutto and a recording of flies flying around them. The effect of this fusion is that we can no longer recognise whether we are dealing with real or computer generated images. The play of passing on information as regards to what we are watching is so efficient and seductive that we find it easy to accept it. A similar situation was merged in the series Trackeds (HD photography and a computer generated drawing on its surface). It is only when we closely observe the playful and entertaining installation with the prosciutto and flies that we can see its real and virtual components that are merged in order to test our observation skills.
At the end we have to mention another video work in the opus of the BridA collective. This was created in 2009 in cooperation with Oppy De Bernardo. It is a simple form of a video record of a tractor driver who is followed by two individuals carrying bags in their hands that combines numerous solutions that were the subjects of their previous projects. The scene runs horizontally, with the tractor driver always in the centre. We can see the various layers of the moving horizon: the foreground passes by quickly, while the tractor driver in the centre remains virtually still. While observing the horizon in the background, the corn field and the hills, we can notice additional layers that are moving proportionally slower due to their distance from the camera. They use the type of shot that can often be seen in animated films or in home movies filmed from a train or a car. Due to its poetic and formal characteristics the video steps out from their opus, but still falls in line with their research of space and time as well as their research into the various forms of recording such information.
This exhibition of the BridA collective is not the usual overview of artwork, but depicts the development of technology and its levels that influenced the art and the individual projects created by the BridA collective. The exhibition is a depiction of the demystification of contemporary technology, interweaving of science, art and other processes linked to the production of art in the contemporary world. From one project to another they gradually reveal that the environment in which we live is not merely biologically determined, but is composed of various spatial and temporal views, stories from the recent and distant past, personal experience, fantasies and other informational reality that we reveal and analyse through layers.