Ultramono: Research, Development & Production of Intermedia Art
Tanja Vujinović, Media Artist & Researcher
ULTRAMONO: Research, Development & Production of (Inter)media Art
MICRO STATEMENT: WORKS AS APPARATUSES FOR RETHINKING SOCIETY
My installations are apparatuses for the rethinking of society. Those apparatuses are composed of sound, video, drawings, objects, or interactive computer works that can be understood as anthropomorphic and abstract machines, and through which I explore the relationship between the human being and technology. I am especially interested in the “uncanny” side of technology, whereby (new) media technology is simultaneously my subject and my medium.
The work emerges from our ambivalent relationship with our machines and gadgets. Norbert Wiener wrote about how machines provoke uncanny canniness in humans, which is nowadays also applicable to virtual machines. Attractiveness of new technologies, dependence upon them and the closeness being created with them are just some among many current themes related to this close and complex relationship spawned through time among people and their gadgets. Anthropomorphic machines (as a connection of consciousness with technology) have always been present in art and culture. Human physiognomy, characteristics and behaviour were assigned to a wide range of objects: from deity figurines, to non-living entities, to toys and dolls for purposes as diverse as religion or play. Regarding the material infrastructure of the digital, I am interested in media carriers, heritage, data preservation and cultural memory. In my work I also explore the abstract machines, structures of noise or randomness that here serve as a vehicle towards mutations and the unexpected. Noise/randomness and their algorithms appear as both the substance and an organizational principle. The relationship between noise and signal, as found in information theory, also inspires my work.
Version No. 2, 4 January 2018, Tanja Vujinović
HUMAN BEING, OBJECTS & TECHNOLOGY
We live with objects that we have created with the help of technology. They surround us, we fetishize them and infuse them with meaning and technological power. We like our objects to be machinic, automatic, effective and within reach. Throughout history we could find our countless attempts of trying to upgrade our behavior to make it more machine-like; on the other hand, we are trying to infuse machines-objects with human-like behavior and reasoning.
Like serially produced objects, people are abstracted into uniform fashion styles, Zentai and similar alternative costumes, where systems of production of meaning affect, dictate and unify form.
Space between objects is just as important. This in-between space conveys tensions that objects project among themselves and in relation to the viewer. Boundaries usually define the beginning and an end of objects, and complexity rises when these boundaries are occasionally fused with either in-between space or boundaries of other objects.
ANTHROPOMORPHIC & ABSTRACT AGENTS
Thinking about synthetic life forms related to the fast development of technology is part of the long history of anthropomorphisation of non-living objects, including automatons with clockwork mechanisms, movable sculptures, and robots. Always provoking extreme reactions of both utopian and dystopian character, the rethinking of the long development of pseudo-life forms includes rethinking aspects of physical and digital technological being.
Throughout history we have tried to create forms of artificial life that would execute in our name the boring or monotonous tasks, extend our life, and extend our reach in intellectual, physical and sensorial terms. In mythological, physical, virtual, mechanical or the domain of programming of anthropomorphic, abstract machines, and their combinations, these creations appear to become autonomous, from antiquity to today. We pack them with data and meaning in order to have them execute tasks on our behalf. Anthropomorphic machines (as a connection of consciousness with technology) have always been present in art and culture. Human physiognomy, characteristics and behaviour were assigned to a wide range of objects; from deity figurines, to non-living entities, to toys and dolls for purposes as diverse as religion or play. Whether it is art, religion, play or the latest technological discovery or entertainment, these projections of ourselves toward the outside world and shaping these projections into definite or fleeting humanoid forms have helped us move forward. Sometimes shaped and devised to function like an organism, software interfaces or telecommunication systems are based on metaphors of the human body. Through the whole of history, including today we are packaging data in anthropomorphic forms (as well as combinations of anthropomorphic and zoomorphic ones) as part of the process of conquering and the humanization of our surroundings.
Mythological and religious statues and statuettes, homunculuses, Frankenstein’s monsters, automatons and robots, computer viruses and programmed personal assistants all belong to a wide but similar family of objects, ones gaining wider applicability and presence since they too posess inbuilt additional life in the form of computer programs. From benign algorithms to viruses, worms and Trojan horses, abstract digital machines are omnipresent, and their external shells, housings or bodies are combinations of static and mobile hardware and operational systems. Anthropomorphisation related to computer programs is happening on one level within so called Eliza effect, which got its name from the chat bot Eliza, and it tells us precisely that we subconsciously assume that the behavior of computer programs is an analog to human behavior and reasoning. On the other hand, activities within the field of visual representation of humanoid agents are described through the Uncanny valley effect of Masahiro Mori, where a roboticist evaluates the degrees of imitation of physical characteristics of 3D simulations of human physiognomy (and within this scope also physical robots supported by engineering and software), as well as the degree of our willingness to accept those simulations.
Abstract agents are also here, intertwined within our operating systems, in our software, invisible, but always present. They are small machines within larger ones, creating and sorting noise at once. In cyber-worlds they generate clouds, they form flocks and simulate groups of people. They search, collect and sort data.
Special focus on both abstract and anthropomorphic machines within my work is where these notions overlap and expand towards the technological uncanny, the contemporary media of memory, data storage, and the differences and similarities between human and machinic perceptual apparatuses.
THE TECHNOLOGICAL UNCANNY
Throughout history, the emergence of every new form of media has provoked a variety of ambiguous responses within society. From photographing ghosts during spiritualistic séances to searching for extra-terrestrial elements on communication channels or secret messages in the static noise of radio frequencies, such fascination and anxiety have brought about many obscure premonitions. Just as the technological “uncanny” emerged as a reaction to electrical tools, photography, and telegraphic communication, nowadays it appears as a reaction to the latest digital tools.
These streams and segments of contemporary technologies are located in computational black boxes, within programmed overlapping streams of algorithms, in deep webs of social media and other dark corners of the internet, within semi-functional left over satellites and other forgotten technological junk, in-between software updates and in archived software, among many other places.
Vilém Flusser has often tried to find room for human freedom and alternative models of functioning within our world of absurd robotized life where our time is mostly spent on feeding our apparatuses and being fed by them. He saw the great potential in alternative usage of our smart tools, a potential to liberate us "functionaries" from excessive work with our apparatuses and to grant new possibilities enabling us to engage in play. According to him, solutions are in experimental work, in our search of not pre-programmed elements within the apparatuses, and conscious attempts to create unpredictable information. Through experimenting, reflecting, and searching for the unpredictable, he saw the significance we could give to our lives as the only revolution left open to us within our world made of complex "playthings”.
In order to avoid the pragmatic and utilitarian mind-set completely occupying our lives, he discussed how playing and celebrating within play in contrast to games where there is always a linear path and a prize to be won at the end, one is included in the special texture that enables interaction, discovery, and inclusion in enriching experiences.
Play rituals are based on creations of special structures within the frame of the ordinary. They include distinctive gestures, special objects with assigned meaning, repetition, and openness towards the sensorial and emotional. Flexible spaces where play rituals are happening are temporary oases for contemplation and rethinking of the world.
Artworks as actions and installations form temporary zones with elements of both play and ritual. These zones have elements of reality, of non-reality, imaginary units and a variety of abstract and anthropomorphic machines.
RANDOMNESS & NOISE
The exploration of the poetry of noise is one of the most significant aspects of my work, where I explore the structures of noise or randomness that here serves as a vehicle towards mutations and unexpected.
Noise might be seen as a vehicle towards mutations and poetics within the digital and electro-acoustic world, where, as some sort of an agent of serendipity, it enables new discoveries. Noise as a primal principle, such as Brownian noise, is one of the structural rhythms of nature and social emergencies, and when transferred to the domain of the digital, it has long served as a tool in forms of various algorithms for countless generative tasks that might resemble organisational principles from real life domains of natural or social fields. Within artworks, noise appears as both the substance and as an organizational principle of various digital or physical elements. Noise can be understood as the specific part of the signal that is generated by the communication mechanism itself. The relationship between noise and signal, also inspires my work in a sense that all accidental discoveries and occurrences in previously defined routes of channel processing might represent a new road of development for the whole work or additional substance that adds to the richness of the structure.
Noise occurrences are an intrinsic phenomenon of every channel, virtual or analogue.
Within media arts the elements of noise are the side effect of each tool used, and sometimes they appear in works as either traces, substantial formal elements, or distinct accents with discursive roles.
Vilém Flusser acknowledged that the tendency of all information in nature is towards its diminishment. All information floats on the way to its own extinction. According to him, an impressive example of anti-entropic activity is biomass re-emerging in various shapes and forms, and through these processes of the reproduction of biomass, mistakes, which we can also understand as noise, occur occasionally and grant evolution through the mutation of copies.
Noise, as the negative pole of information, might serve an agent’s critical questioning of the quality and availability of information and its carriers within media arts and society in general. Taking into account the entangledness of information and its material base, the communication noise generated by both the material base of information as well as its users might lead towards a mode of liberation from destructive "techno-nihilism" through letting in the unknown, the instinctual and experimental content, and openness towards the not immediately perceivable.
As Arthur Kroker proposed, the essence of new media art lies in reversing the technological field. The theory of electronic art becomes the art of electronic theory and manifests itself through three "anti-codes". The aesthetics of "digital dirt" becomes the ontology of art, "technologies of otherness within everyday cybernetics" become the political focus, and "digital incommensurability" an antidote to the age of "ubiquitous" and "calm" technology. The resulting digital art, with its technologies of otherness, opposing the "will to virtual hygiene" evokes shocks of excitement through the cracking, humming, and digital static of microcircuits. As a leading and animating force of digital life, the art of "digital dirt" brings about, as Kroker puts it, waste, accidents, and liquid distortions in systems and mutations, data crashes, and noises in the machines.
My installations are apparatuses for rethinking of society.
Those apparatuses are made of sound, video, drawings, objects, or interactive computer works, that could be understood as anthropomorphic and abstract machines, through which I examine ways of perception and preservation of memory.
In my works I explore relationship between human body and technology. I am especially interested in the “uncanny” side of technology, and (new) media technology is simultaneously my subject and my medium.
The work emerges from our ambivalent relationship with our machines and gadgets. Norbert Wiener writes about how machines provoke uncunny cunniness in humans, which is nowadays also applicable to virtual machines. Attractiveness of new technologies, dependence upon them, closeness that is being created with them, are just some among many current themes related to close and complex relationship created through time among people and their gadgets. Anthropomorphic machines (as a connection of consciousness with technology) have always been present in art and culture. Human physiognomy, characteristics and behaviour were assigned to a wide range of objects; from deity figurines, to non-living entities, to toys and dolls for purposes as diverse as religion or play. Regarding material infrastructure of the digital, I am interested in media carriers, heritage, data preservation and cultural memory. In my work I also explore abstract machines - the structures of noise or randomness that here serves as a vehicle towards mutations and unexpected. Noise/randomness and their algorithms appear as both, the substance and as an organizational principle.
DISCRETE EVENTS IN NOISY DOMAINS
Discrete Events in Noisy Domains are a succession of closely related media artworks within which I explored our attachment to gadgets, ambivalence towards technology, and the Internet of Things phenomenon. Objects in the installations were collecting data from the spaces through multiple sensors, yet that fact was mostly ignored by the visitors due to their approachable interfaces.
For most of these works, I made custom software in Max/Msp/Jitter. For Oskop, I used custom made patch in Quartz Composer in combination with Audio Mulch. Within Blipstat, I used data sonification, and in Oscilorama data visualisation and sonification. All works equally question contemporary media channels, glitches, noise, and invisible data trajectories and contain custom or ready-made electronic devices to form a temporary network of some sort that included the visitors. They are, in a way, transitory mappings of data fluxes and their oscillations and trajectories. Sometimes they were materialised as random locations of info-dust or anthropomorphised data-emitters, ranging from audio-visual installations and reactive environments to installations in public spaces, allowing visitors and passers-by to participate in the audio-visual reverberations. Works that belong to the Discrete Events in Noisy Domains series, as generative temporary probes and as transformative structures, dissect some of the hidden layers of technology. The questions that these works open are, in my opinion, important and relevant questions regarding tweaking, networking, and sampling of contemporary media tools with all of their data-flows, channels, and grains of signals.
Environments from the Universal Objects series are non-narrative, endless surroundings made of three-dimensional objects. Some of them behave like automatons and perform minimal gestures. Most of these works are made in game engines and refer to the many questions this procedural, generative medium opens regarding its usage and the content it usually conveys.
Infinite space, abstract objects, or humanoid representatives are constantly drawing us back to their origin of raw, generated, digital materiality. These objects are simultaneously actual, real, present, and absent through their ethereal being.
The 3D objects are dynamic, transformative objects holding the possibility of infinite performative action. They act algorithmically – whether to propagate site traffic, advertise, seduce or represent us – while being our own digital ghosts and fetishes.
The medium of game engines and three-dimensional objects within the Universal Objects series involves exploration of the “matter” they are made of by opening them up, turning their structures inside out, and testing their clashing behaviours.
Exploration of noise has been present in my work for the last twenty years. Over that time the scope of approaches to analysis has expanded – from information noise as a cultural phenomenon to materiality of analogue noise, to noise versus signal in relation to anthropomorphism.
Various algorithms of noise might be understood as the base of the many elements of the digital world. Noise might be a tool that leads to new discoveries and mutations, subversively enabling insight into otherwise invisible streams of signals. Contrary to some other works where noise is almost totally abstract, within the Universal Objects series algorithmic noises, broken objects, their deformations and mutations sometimes gain humanoid shapes in various situations and dynamic environments.
The name of this cycle arrives from archetypical objects that are readily available within databases of objects – how users approach them, how they change and are filled with projected consciousness, with functions, and what roles they are assigned within digital worlds, and how those objects perform within these constellations.
Game engines are generative, procedural, virtual machines within which are numerous smaller machines operating behind the curtain. The larger part of this machine is invisible to us because it operates within a “black box” surrounding, usually of no interest to the average user.
Media art, the field in which I am active as a practising artist, offers the platform for analysis, critique, and the humanisation of technology while practically and theoretically dealing with media and information technologies. The contemporary media artist, who nowadays has tendencies towards involvement with various social and technological spheres, incorporates the further roles of "researcher, inventor, hacker, and entrepreneur" according to Stephen Wilson. Bruce Sterling understood electronic multimedia arts as "the nervous system of the information society, the laboratory of information science, the battlefield of information warfare, the marketplace of the information economy".
Umberto Eco understood that the work of art is a balanced and organic whole, while every perception of it is in a way a performance of the work in a fresh interpretation. Media artworks can be understood as oscillating events. Media artworks are, in the words of Roy Ascott, focused on behaviour and not form while enabling the interrogation of probabilities by the visitor/spectator/user. These resonating events provide fields of social interplay that hold potential for the generation of new experiences and knowledge, where full realisation of this potential is conveyed by the audience. Media art is directly related to contemporaneity. The complex contemporary world of the manic development of ever-new technologies, fast-paced production and consumption, and the unprecedented speed of information technologies and communication tools are directly influencing our lives and changing our environments. The pace of development and use of electronic gadgets and personal computers is set by the global industry, while our daily experiences are directly shaped by the ideologies built into the technologies we use.
Media art is just one of the many expressions for this area of human activity that has been in constant development over the last couple of decades and one which has roots in various art phenomena of the twentieth century, starting with early experiments of artists whose work is related to Dada and Bauhaus movements, Lettrists, sound artists, and the early video art of the sixties and seventies of the twentieth century.
Today, media art is a whole scope of works and approaches that open up questions of post-digital life on the Internet, everyday co-habitation with computers and gadgets, works that deal with questions of mixed and augmented reality, robotics, the Internet of Things, computer games, and various interdisciplinary projects that are forming unprecedented bridges between disciplines. As a relevant factor shaping our lives, new information technologies and computer systems along with all of the ideologies that they convey are exceptionally curious areas for analysis and consequently development of contemporary art.
Vujinovic Kusej, Tatjana. Info-Noise Art: Concepts, Tools, and Environments of Media Art, Ph. D. Dissertation, Postgraduate study program: Philosophy and Theory of Visual Culture, Koper, https://share.upr.si/fhs/PUBLIC/doktorske/Vujinovic-Kusej-Tatjana.pdf, January, 2010.
Vujinovic, Tanja. "Tactile Nodes: Aesthetic of discreet events in noisy domains", Leonardo Electronic Almanac, Vol 16, issue 4–5: Dispersive Anatomies, Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press Journals, ISSN: 1071-4391, USA, Sep 11, 2009.
Vujinovic, Tanja. Online artwork database of media artist Tanja Vujinovic “Ultramono”, http://www.ultramono.org accessed 29.6.2017.
Wiener, Norbert. God & Golem, Inc. A Comment on Certain Points where Cybernetics Impinges on Religion. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1966.
OTHER AUTHORS ABOUT MY WORK
Janez Strehovec: The Touch With Tact, MASKA, Performing Arts Journal, vol. XXVI, No. 141–142 (autumn 2011), pp. 101-103.; Translated from Slovene by Melita Silič. /// pdf ENGLISH /// pdf SLOVENŠČINA ///
Matjaž Brulc, Tanja Vujinović: Krajine šumov, Galerija Simulaker, Novo mesto, 4. 12.–4. 12. 2012 /// pdf SLOVENŠČINA ///
Petja Grafenauer, Ultramono: generative digital techniques, data visualisation, data sonification, modern electronics and black furry creatures, Ultramono #7, ISBN 978-961-92451-3-2 (pdf), Ultramono, Ljubljana, Slovenia, 2012. /// pdf ENGLISH /// pdf SLOVENŠČINA ///
Ida Hiršenfelder, Discreet Events in Noisy Domains, Dnevnik, Ljubljana, 25.9.2008. /// pdf ENGLISH /// pdf SLOVENŠČINA ///
Irena Levičar, Umetnost računalniških igric, Indirekt, Ljubljana, 11.11.2008. /// pdf SLOVENŠČINA ///
Duba Sambolec, Tour/Detour, Helium, a sound art series, Ballongmagasinet and NIFCA, Internet, 2002. /// pdf ENGLISH ///
Jasmina Cubrilo, Fictional Dictionary, second part, "Perfect Frequency" exhibition catalogue, DOB Belgrade, Belgrade, 1998. /// pdf ENGLISH ///
Discrete Events in Noisy Domains, catalogue
Photo credits: Jan Kušej, Tanja Vujinović, Claudio Farkasch, Sunčan Stone, Tanja Rojc, Nada Žgank, Viktor Bernik, Maja Vuksanović, Boštjan Lah.
Texts: Sanja Kojić Mladenov, Tanja Vujinović.
(Sanja Kojić Mladenov's text originally appeared in DEIND, Ultramono catalogue from 2013, Ljubljana, ISBN 978-961-92451-4-9)
Cover pages: Sumogen, Tanja Vujinović.
Publisher: Ultramono, Research and Production of Media Art
Publication #10, 2015
©Tatjana Tanja Vujinović Kušej /Ultramono, 2015.
Open publication HERE (23MB)
Discrete Events in Noisy Domains, catalogue
Photo credits: Jan Kušej, Tanja Vujinović, Claudio Farkasch, Sunčan Stone, Tanja Rojc, Nada Žgank, Viktor Bernik, Maja Vuksanović, Boštjan Lah.
Texts: Petja Grafenauer, Janez Strehovec.
ISBN 978-961-92451-3-2 (pdf)
Format: 70 pages, full color catalogue
Publication #7, 2012
Open publication HERE (18.5MB)
Ultramono: generative digital techniques, data visualisation, data sonification, modern electronics and black furry creatures
(excerpt from the text, Petja Grafenauer, Ultramono: generative digital techniques, data visualisation, data sonification, modern electronics and black furry creatures, ULTRAMONO, PUBLICATION ISSUE #6, 2012, pp. 2-6.; Translated by Sunčan Stone.)
"[…] In order to play we need toys, and in the last twenty years these have entered the world of contemporary art in big style. They follow the general trend of returning to play in adulthood. As they represent an important part of the Ultramono platform, which is used by Tanja Vujinović in the production of her works, their story will serve as an entry point into her projects. As digital technologies have a strong presence in her opus, toys are most commonly pushed aside and considered to be merely a means to reach the goal, and the projects are analysed within the frame of new media technological art. However, as regards their visual appearance and significance toys are central to, but by no means the only possible way of understanding her projects. It seems that this is why her projects provide the user with an easier understanding of technological issues such as the transformation from data to picture and sound and back again. On the other hand they also operate on the sensory level, a level that is much easier to access through toys and play, both of which lead the user to complex insights. […]
Tanja Vujinović operates in a field in which we can clearly see the intertwining of dark and electronic aesthetics through the research of transforming sound into images and other possibilities offered by the programming of various interfaces. All of this is intertwined with the intention to create the art of noise. Within her opus - which is tightly linked to contemporary technologies that the artist finds appealing - one should not contemplate her progress but the progress of her artistic opus, the development of the individual project, technology and its inclusion into the work of art, concept and aesthetics and the intertwining of all these factors. […]
How can one summarise the projects created by Tanja Vujinović? They are recognisable as a part of an opus with its chaotic dark noise aesthetics. Their interactivity is of key importance for the existence of the project itself – the interfaces generate the image and sound from data that is predominantly created by the viewer's presence –, and at the same time the sensory and conceptual part of the artwork provides the playful atmosphere found within the gallery. The high technology, which is in art usually perceived to be found in projects for 'geeks', where you have to enter the consecrated circle of knowledge on 'how it works', in order to understand the artwork, gains in its playfulness in the works of this artist. Playing with 'toys' that draw us in because of our nostalgic past encourages us to enjoy our play and their kinetics. At this we are getting accustomed to the images and sounds that are offered by the screens and microphones, and we also partake in their creation. Through play we understand how it works. We find this entertaining and suddenly a unique painting instrument appears in front of us, and this opens up new possibilities for playing with and enjoying art."
The Touch With Tact
(excerpt from the text, Janez Strehovec, The Touch With Tact, On the Superohm Installation by Tanja Vujinović, MASKA, Performing Arts Journal, vol. XXVI, No. 141–142 (autumn 2011), pp. 101-103.; Translated from Slovene by Melita Silič.)
"The Superohm project, exhibited in October 2011 at the Kapelica Gallery in Ljubljana, is part of the Discreet Events in Noisy Domains (fifteenth study) series, which first of all means that it is an event, and thereby the participant’s intervention in time, and there are also noisy domains – hence the effect of sound is an essential component of the event, which has been a constant in Tanja Vujinović’s projects. This event doesn’t only imply the temporal dimension; indeed, something happens only if we bear witness through intensive participation, which is, in the case of “Discreet Events”, a discreet one. This occurs when things are not just observed – which is characteristic of the spectator’s visit to traditional art shows – but rather when an intense and individualised relationship comprising a comprehensive sensory and emotional arrangement is established with them. Such an arrangement presumes the involvement of all of the senses, including touch incorporated in a kinaesthetic dispositif due to the fact that a static engagement of touch does not result in a lot of data. It requires a visitor’s/user’s circulation in the space of the installation, touching objects in motion, their acceleration and stopping, directing and loading.
What are the objects involved? They remind one of living beings, such as stuffed dog toys, as well as (completely harmless) reptiles and vivacious baby goats. They are fitted with sensors and capable of programmed and random behaviour alike; not smart enough to be real robots and too smart to be considered ordinary toys. They produce sounds (constituting noisy domains) and their movement is incorporated into an artificial life in the sandbox (playground) in which they are placed. They can be divided into three types: the largest and laziest, which are supplied with electricity in the centre of the sandbox, the dog-car toys (if pushed by visitors, they gladly move in a particular direction) and jumpy and tumbling stuffed baby goats, which demonstrate the most life (as if they were sort of spinning tops). Everything that is happening in the sandbox is being recorded by the cameras above, and the modulated shots are projected live onto the screen in the installation’s background, whereas the artificial life in the sandbox (based on interactions between various analogue and digital components of the system – objects, spectators, light sources, cameras, controller devices) generates a soundscape that one should listen to as well as try to affect it by the ever new kinaesthetic interventions upon the objects placed in the sandbox-playground. The video and sound maps generated on the basis of interactions between objects, visitors and smart devices produce data streams collected and processed by computer software.
Being a project of new media art, Superohm is a challenge to theory due to complex interactions between system components, which lead to artificial life based on hybrid states between the analogue and digital as well as the algorithmic. The components include optic sensors, stroboscopic and LED lights, video cameras, microphones and loudspeakers, computer components and mechanical parts in the stuffed object-dogs, baby goats and reptiles. This installation also features a modular approach – flexible components can be adapted to new settings in other spaces and it is also important that the author herself is a programmer in her projects. However, what the contributor of this text considers a huge challenge is to address the tactile perception established by this work.
Indeed, such perception is essential in order to pave the way from (un)usual sensory experience to intensive event, and hybrid objects in the form of stuffed dogs, reptiles and baby goats play an important role in this. They are dressed in durable, warm and touch-friendly textile (which reminds one of the neo-avant-garde artist Joseph Beuys, who also used warm materials, such as grease, wax and plush) that literally invites the visitor to touch it, caress it, until the eventual, resolute taking hold of these half-alive toys. Not only the kinaesthetic, but also the motor skills, of the visitor/user are addressed, because from the initial (timid) observation of things in front of her (when she first enters the gallery space), she passes on to a considerably more intense and investigative relationship with the environment and the objects within. The visitor/user starts taking away the strangeness from these things, which is accomplished through touch, which allows directness, the experience of materiality and incorporation of environmental components into her body schema (Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s concept). […]”
Discreet Events in Noisy Domains
(excerpt from the text, Ida Hiršenfelder, Discreet Events in Noisy Domains, Dnevnik, Ljubljana, 25.9.2008.)
“[…] Sounds in the tactile biotope Supermono 2/3 arise from two mutually complementary sources through which complex digital modules enable a nearly unrepeatable variability of sounds and pictures. The crackling noise base is randomly processed from the video recording of movements in the gallery through a computer intermediary into abstract sound and video pictures. The sound structures on the other side of the gallery receive and transmit signals from cute, black, doll-like objects, plush forms, in which sound sensors are hidden, whose reactions, however, are entirely dependent on play or interaction. Sound art often uses the reactions of the human body, which in this installation is encouraged by the cuteness and softness of the black figures. The installation is actually a toy for coming to like the sound. The artist is not seeking some great theme, but with the help of the hybrid forms she gently encourages visitors to face technology and the development of the mental, emotional, and poetic dimensions in the perception of space. […]”
Image of a Soundscape
(excerpt from the text, Barbara Sterle Vurnik, The Image of a Soundscape, Ampak, monthly magasine for culture, politics and economy, year 9, number 10, Ljubljana, October 2008. )
“[…] In her work she takes away the identity of the toys, and applies them in the project as anonymous bodies. By doing this she softens the serious and sophisticated world of technology, and also contrasts it with the hand-production of these soft “plushettes”. In their blackness, these are far from friendly toys, estranged and nameless. However, other technological toys, such as the “Teletubbies” and “Pikachus”, are often the same. One can understand the work also as the author's commentary on the impersonality of the contemporary consumer society which is polluting our lives.
The entire project is based on a complex concept and an even more complex technical implementation, which however are not perceived by the viewer, since the installation is clean and operates flawlessly. It is interesting for viewers because it opens up to them the unknown sphere of invisible signals and waves which literally permeates the atmosphere of our everyday environment. A wonderful chain of interdependent relations unfolds, which people determine in the gallery by simply entering it, and if they act in some other way, perhaps touch some object, a wonderful process of transformation occurs which results in the magical image of a soundscape.[…]”
Barbara Sterle Vurnik
A World of Little Sounds and Noises
(excerpt from the text, Luka Zagoričnik, Svet malih zvokov in šumov [A World of Little Sounds and Noises], Delo, Ljubljana, 26.9.2008)
“[…]With Tanja Vujinovic’s current sound installation (co-produced by Zavod B-51 and Zavod Exstat), sound art, which has been presented in Kapelica Gallery for many years, became an integral part of the Ex Ponto Festival. Recently the Gallery also garnered great praise from those knowledgeable about the field as well as from the audience and organizers at the prestigious Ars Electronica Festival for part of its program on contemporary sound art from various sources. One proof that the artists who have presented their works for many years in the framework of the mentioned gallery are connected to contemporary sound art and trends regarding this type of art not only in Europe, but also more widely, is the current installation "Supermono 2/3”, which is divided into three central parts, each by itself forming a fragile sound system of subtle noise and synthetic sounds. These connect us to the infantile world of children, to the world of moving toys, and all the surrounding sounds that motivate us to interact; and in the vice of modern technology they emit their own sounds or operate as a modular sign of our movements, touches, and echoes. In another area we encounter an intertwining of the video- and audio-signals, which, amplified and modularized, reach out to us from small mono-bodies. Each part of the installation makes us a part of its own world of small sounds and noise, while at the same time it embraces us in the central area in a gentle and delicate cacophony of sound, which at its core wonderfully validates the title of the cycle: ‘Discreet Events in Noisy Domains’, and in a special manner unveils the beauty, playfulness, and sparkle of ‘noisy domains’, opens them up, and on the level of interaction and the participation of the visitors, offers to each of them their own sound sphere, which is presented to them coated in a soft, enticing plushness. […]”
Non-central domains: video art in Slovenia after 2000
27. 02. - 03. 04. 2008 Curators: Petja Grafenauer Krnc and Igor Španjol, excerpt from the text
“[…]Tanja Vujnovic’s projects are based on an expanded notion of sculpture that connects technologically objects, sound, and images. Her spatial interventions depend on radio waves, television frequencies, and algorithmic processing of sound and visual signals in public environments. She uses video to construct rhythmic images and sound-based micro-worlds.[…]”
Tour / Detour
(excerpt from the text, Duba Sambolec, Tour / Detour, Helium, a sound art series in 5 parts on the internet, Ballongmagasinet and NIFCA (http://www.ballongmagasinet.com/helium), 2002.)
“[…] Dialogue is polluted with noise from frequencies that are traversing the atmosphere. We hear the sounds from a café, particles of statements, which come and go in waves. Therefore it is hard to follow the utterances of two artists, Marcel Duchamp and Herman Nitsch. We find ourselves in a situation that is similar to a disturbed hunter who is trying to catch the prey of his interest. However, there is no such thing as a pure-ideal situation. The messiness of the sound is aggressive. The bombing of our capacity to perceive what is going on is even increased by the equally important sounds of everyday compulsive activity, such as the sounds of dishes being washed. As a counterpart, we may rest our eyes on the images of beautified kitsch details from one's home, (the words kitsch and kitchen sound so similar), which do offer comfort and visual pleasure that nurture people's needs of integrity. You might feel safe when you have at least something to rest your eyes upon and consequently, you think that you are in control.[…]”
Fictional Dictionary, second part
(excerpt from the text, Jasmina Čubrilo, Fictional Dictionary, second part, "Perfect Frequency" exhibition catalogue, DOB Belgrade, Belgrade, 1998.)
“[…] The poetic moment in which an image is dimmed until it can no longer be recognized, in which, in the electronically defragmented structure, the contours of given elements are barely outlined, is repeated as unpleasant sound vibration of mixed radio-stations. For a message to be comprehensible, it has to refer to a reality shared, at least in part, by both a sender and a receiver. This reality creates context. An ideal situation is considered when a message gets undamaged to its destination, and read according to the intentions of its sender. However, just as a sender is unaware of all the aspects of his/her message, a receiver reacts to messages sent from his/her own reality/context and preoccupations. The “Perfect Frequency” is an affirmation of theses that what we perceive is not always that what we see, and that what we hear is not always what we listen to. In both cases, positions establishing a platform of our speech are important, and they condition the final selection. (Im)possibility of decoding of the read-in contents make communication more difficult or easier. Thus, broadcasting difficulties are not just conditioned by technical limitations only of transmitters and/or receivers, but their origin and existence can be an effect of various levels of needs, demands, wishes, concentration, information, interest, permissiveness... So, “Perfect Frequency” is the moment of the perfect noise deconstructing all ideologies, that is to say, a critical field induced by thee actual network over-burdening, as well as by an impasse through its dense plexus. Anyway, the very collages of the stills taken from the video project, suggest that these circumstances have transformed each and everyone of us into incomplete sentences, hovering around, mostly, parallel contexts."