MetaGarden:Ethanol (Spiritus Agens), Installation (3D printed objects, glass, steel, custom made electronics, alcohol, water)

Author: Tanja Vujinović
Production: Ultramono, 2018
Executive producers: Tanja Vujinović, Jan Kušej (Ultramono)
Production and PR assistance: Urška Comino
Software, electronics, objects: Tanja Vujinović, Borut Savski, Stefan Doepner, Roman Bevc, Bevec d.o.o.
The project was realised with the help of the Cultural Department of the City Municipality of Ljubljana
Project consultants: Jan Kušej, Lenart Krajnc, Derek Snyder, Urška Dremelj, Stefan Doepner, Borut Savski, Jelena Guga, Milos Roglić, Maja Kodre, Aleksander Rečnik, Aleš Rode, Maja Berločnik, KAP Jasa (Saša Iskrić, Janez Vizjak)
Installation uses a text-to-Morse code translator developed by Stephen C. Phillips, https://morsecode.scphillips.com/translator.html

* First exhibited under working title Spiritus Agens in exhibitions "Elixir Agens", MMC KIBLA, KIBELA, Maribor, September 2018, and "Elixir Distillers", Kapelica Gallery, October 2018

 The MetaGarden:Ethanol is about our close connections with Ethanol and its numerous versions. Contemporary world, hygiene, and our wellbeing are unimaginable without it. The circuit made within the installation continually processes diluted alcohol through active charcoal. In MetaGarden:Ethanol, diluted alcohol runs through Object A, which contains charcoal particles, and then drops into the container that preserves the Object B, which is immersed in the processed alcoholic “quintessence”. Using Morse code, Object B emits "a signal of life", in the form of the statement “I am still alive”, borrowed from famous conceptual artist On Kawara, who used this maxim as part of his art practice. Aqua vita, or the water of life, an archaic and generic name for all types of alcohol distillates, originated in the Middle Ages when it was used as treatment for the bubonic plague. Nowadays, alcohol is synthesised in various forms and used in the food industry, medicine, and various fields of research.

About the MetaGarden series of works

In “MetaGarden”, we actively engage in the post-digital panorama and our expanded nature, contemplating and recreating various technological amalgams of ourselves and our worlds. Vilém Flusser wrote about how futile the attempts are to artificially construct a dichotomy between nature and culture. His stance towards the nature, which we always comprehend through the lens of culture, contradicts the ideas of returning to the long forgotten, primordial “nature” or “source”, and undermines the prospects of objectively analysing the amalgams of nature-culture that we continually create.

Simulations are important for our understanding of the world in philosophical, scientific, and everyday sense, for they describe how models and maps stretch out over the layers of reality and explain the workings of the world. Without them, we would have a hard time understanding how mathematical formulas, laws of physics, anatomies of living organism or engineering structures function. In science, philosophy, and religion, there have always been different world ontologies and simulation paradigms that try to chart and explain how systems and networks of the world work. According to the Božidar Kante, what we now loosely call “nature” has long ago become an “organic machine”, but it still does not mean the complete transference of nature into “artifact”. Our physical environment is increasingly shaped by the capital, technology, and geopolitics, and these processes are being reflected in the so-called nature that we ingest or reproduce as lawns, gardens, and land or theme parks. The majority of domesticated animals, fruits, vegetables, and herbs grown in agriculturally advanced areas of the world are the fruit of planned manipulations of human resources, even if we exclude the work on genetically engineered species. Such cultivation highlights “non-reproduced nature”, which becomes a more important expression of value, representing something yet nonaffected by pollution or climate change. This process is part of the dramatisation of violence and excesses of technical reshaping that highlights the importance of nonhuman world for the maintenance of life. Different cultures give advantage to environments that, according to their opinion, contain important “natural” elements, not only for being aesthetically pleasing, but also for having a therapeutic role because they contribute to our healing faster than artificial environments do.

The MetaGarden addresses the questions of recreation and recycling. It deals with the construction of technological “other” by employing various anthropomorphic and abstract agents. The conceptual Objects A and B appearing in the project are inspired by the history of anthropomorphization and are, as Sherry Turkle would say, “objects- to-think-with”. Object A represents our striving towards the creation of a synthetic being, while Object B stands for the human being in transition – a robomorphic being, a cyborg-becoming-a-thing.

So far, ”MetaGarden” raised the questions of recreation and of different immaterial and transitory objects of both low and high technology. The future of wellbeing lies in the development of contemporary science and technology, as well as in our readiness to understand them and debate their many elements and implications. We often deal with the Pharmakon, fluctuating between poison and remedy, but also between the notions of clean and dirty, having in mind that the substances in our environment are the pointers of our homeostatic balances. The key questions regarding cleanliness and sterility are closely related to ecology and health and, as Mary Douglas states, they are transitory and culturally dependent questions.

Conclusions arising from the project so far are that various activities such as daily routines, usage of substances, and meditation were and still are used as methods of affecting and transforming one’s perception of the world and wellbeing. We are inspired by historical and contemporary examples of DIY biohacking and immersions into the rhythms of nature. By interacting with and incorporating various abstract and anthropomorphic agents, we try to recreate ourselves and intervene in our daily lives in order to find meaning and security.

After two public presentations of the installations (exhibitions "Elixir Agens", MMC KIBLA, KIBELA, Maribor, September 2018, and "Elixir Distillers", Kapelica Gallery, October 2018), and due to the nature of their development, I have decided to include them into a new, larger series of works entitled “MetaGarden”, which will be expanded in the future. The ‘Garden’ is a metaphor for the transitory encircled areas where installations envelope, while prefix ‘meta’ denotes the nature of these installations - they are transcending, and they reveal ongoing processes and changes. 


OPEN TEXT BY Jelena Guga, Merging of Code and Matter: MetaGarden by Tanja Vujinovic, December 2018. /// pdf ENGLISH ///