EN - interview with ExSitu platform

Interview with ExSitu platform (April-October 2019)

  1. Noise of the Real, in the complete form of your original proposal, follows the Federation of Relations, presented in 2017 at the Jocelyn Wolff Gallery in Paris. You focus on changing our perception of space through the digitalization of reality. It is related to the digital memory and the intermingling of different realities. You often use the motif of labyrinth, the idea of movement, interaction, and you are asking for the status of different places, with intent to creating so-called "natural virtual reality".
    Can you clarify these terms associated with your artistic practice, from the "sculptural situation", to the notion of movement and describe the continuity or difference of the Noise of the Real from the Federation of Relationships?


I would not necessarily say that the work Noise of the Real was following the work Federation of relations. Rather it was haunted by the same theme. In this case it is simple question of ¨what is the role of human in our shared digital environment¨ (Let’s please skip the definition of humankind). I believe it is important to speak little more about the common ideas and differences. My work is coming from certain necessity of expression. What those two works had in common is my deep interest in reality, and what is happening with that concept when confronted with computation. Specifically how do we navigate, explore or experience the space under those new conditions. My work functions as interface for ideas that I am concerned about. They reach their state by exhibiting. Than they become ballast that I have learn how to live with, get rid of, or some in between relationship. That notion of interface by the way leads towards provisory vocabulary describing my works as sculptural situations. As the categories that we subscribe to existing art objects, situations installations are not fitting anymore for my works. I understand sculpture as category to be the most suitable form of data storage. In the past, I was working a lot with the existing public sculptures and monuments, so in a way it was easy to grasp computational thinking for me. As I understood those places . In that sense we could speak about sculpture as our connection with the past, as well as any other data driven machine. Its static presence in space is not enough of course as there are other elements in play, which I had to consider in my practice as well. In my work I personally prefer interaction that is a choice of the spectator. Not something that is forced or demanded by the situation itself. This passive quality can be described as a traditional printed book, which you know what to do with to enjoy it. It is there but waiting for you to ¨be opened and hence being activated¨ (clearly some of the books doesn’t want that and doing everything to scare everyone who tries to read them, in terms of graphic design or chosen language). Also if you try to think not in the traditional linear way, you get pretty soon to a diverse space that can remind you a labyrinth. That depends also how close you are trying to look. We could call it ¨problem of scale¨, which is further connected with the amount of your engagement. From there the idea of movement kind of evolve naturally. Along with my artistic practice that I do without having a studio (post studio? Don’t know the name). This feeling of studio-less is accompanying me since my studies, and I was comfortable about it for around ten years now. I love the freedom I can enjoy when not bound to certain space and certain set of tools. It is the best spot for reactive observer.

 

  1. Could you further develop the original proposal of Noise of the Real, in which you work with contradictory and in the same time complementary elements like collective and personal memories, local and global thinking, organic and artificial material, high and low culture?
    It was not possible to realize the originally intended work from technical reasons. How does the presented work differ from the original intention? Can we talk here about a fragment of the intended sculptural situation?

The work was not possible to realize due to financial situation. As no institution that was asked showed enough interest in supporting the project in the given time. But that’s how it goes with grants I guess. It reminds me experience with gambling, you enjoy it until you become dependent on it. This time we lost, but maybe next time..... Back to your question, the presented work was actually selection from test prints that I had to produce before starting the real production. As everything had to be prepared in advance of shipment et cetera. I used only the prints that come out in good colour disposition. Which was about one fourth of all the images that I printed. What was presented in Teatro Mella was totally different work from the original proposal. The idea for the sculpture was inspired by airplane seat made of and surrounded by images taken in spaces that share restricted access based on your identity. As support structure was used local bamboo sticks which reminded construction site (place that is in transition) or provisional interface/situation of something that was, and was not present in the exhibition space at the same time. As the pictures were printed on see through fabric, they didn’t have the dominant appearance of a traditional image. You could see the architecture behind or people walking around while looking at the pictures. In the exhibition space all this data become temporal part of the image. Teatro Mella was a really lively place as theatre has strong tradition in Cuban culture and it was interesting to see hundreds of visitors seeing the artworks and I was happy to exhibit in such environment.

 

 

  1. You use the term of "non-places", for places that cause doubts and uncertainties to identify them. Printed fabrics constituting the installation represent these non-places and at the same time part of your personal visual archive. Images took often through a window, or containing the reflections of other images, represent the places under the higher or lower security levels (e.g. photos of airport interiors e.g. in Prague), always almost without human presence. From the transparent fabrics, these images are suspended in the Teatro Mella's open space, on its windows, or intertwined in one structure. How do you place these scenes in the present Cuban reality?

Since long time ago I am always trying to take documentary photographs of situations without people. I somehow like those types of empty spaces, where you have figure out what is going on. For example if you see a big wave, either with people running away or surfer enjoying the situation gives you different clues how to perceive the picture. I guess that I like to share the same experience of solitude when visiting those place myself. Even though sometimes I have to either wait for a long time to take the picture without people, or visit the place more than once. This also gives me the time to study the space and its inner logic that often seems for different reasons inaccessible for the first sight. Taking out the referents, the decision of what the image is representing is then completely choice of the spectator.

My answer to your question about the relation of the work to the Cuban reality is going to have two parts. The first one is about the intention before I travel there. I wanted to create sculpture of situation that I am experiencing in my country thirty years after the velvet revolution, which I hoped would be completely out of the Cuban reality. I felt big responsibility given by the fact that I was the only Czech, from few hundreds of other artist exhibiting at the same venue, and I was playing with the idea of what would be appropriate presence at such occasion. From my point of view I was trying to express certain ambiguous feeling of unease about presence, which would sculpturally provide an imaginary seat and allow a way through a symbolic real into a space we locate underneath the consumerist layer of reality.

Now is the time to speak about the second part of my answer. It is connected with the direct experience of Cuban Reality from the position of temporal worker and not a tourist. I found the situation in most cases completely capitalistic in terms of individual behaviour in comparison to the established economic system. It just doesn’t have enough resources and freedom to show itself. It is tremendously difficult situation for the people who are living there only equipped with tool of recycling which you have almost everywhere present along with the expectations of the regime. I have had chance to meet people from Europe who were researching this state of things. I found it utmost artificial, as the whole situation in Cuba is not ecological or any other noble western idea under the term shared economy. It’s just people necessity to adapt in order to survive. If the outcome is then ecological, it is only in forced way. Not as decision (for example speaking about absence of agricultural fertilizers due to the international restrictions). Just the fact that I had a visit of the Cuban minister of culture with his assistants day before the opening, was showing degree of control /surveillance in Cuban reality. In that light my work got completely different context. Although what was also unexpected was the interest of the regular theatre visitors. Maybe coming from the need of personal encounters with contemporary art. Anyway, it was something really energizing to experience in person.


4. Local conditions involved communication problems, lack of all material, and the constant control by Teatro Mella employees, controlled by ministry of culture. You worked only with material found on the place. We are actually talking about constructing reality in real time and in a given place. The topic of the official Biennale, Construction of possible, is fitting.

Construction of Possible: Uneasy every time you try to construct something under these conditions but necessary now more than ever.


  1. You are a collector of images from all over the world that you accumulate in one place in the kind of Tran’s local way. How do you perceive the construction of the current identity?

I understand construction of current identity as a natural process within cultural boundaries rather than something that can be constructed artificially. We have to live our lives, and by that is how the identity emerges. Nevertheless what we can and should do in near future is to accept what is and is not part of us. Given different political, cultural, religious, scientific context might be difficult to create democratic consensus about everything. In this process of thinking in different scale, digital systems can only provide us with storage and processing vast data of what is creating us (etc.: bacteria’s, territory, education). The computational systems are not designed to present objective facts for us as some sort of ¨robot fortune tellers¨. What those machine can certainly do is that through their way of thinking (algorithms) they can affect our decisions about things. The world has changed once again because of the global presence of computational thinking and every present algorithms. Now we have to challenge the consequences and here we come back to the current construction of identity.

I hope that you get more answers while exploring my work.