Thursday, December 29, 2011

Drawing in the Age of Electronic Expressions, LEAP, Berlin, 28.01. - 05.02.2012


With works by Sanela Jahić (SI), Takahiro Yamaguchi (JP), Julius Stahl (DE), Daniel Franke (DE), David Bowen (US).

The exhibition DRAWING IN THE AGE OF ELECTRONIC EXPRESSIONS is part of Transmediale & CTM’s Vorspiel, January 26-29.


VERNISSAGE: Saturday 28 January 2012, 20.00
All participating artists will be present.
With Performance by “Sanela Jahić - Fire Painting”.

Further Performances of “Fire Painting”:
Saturday 4 Feb, 21.00

Exhibition dates: 29.01.2012 - 5.02.2012


The exhibition “Drawing In The Age Of Electronic Expressions” deals with visual art techniques – in particular painting and drawing – and how the role of the artist has been transformed by the impact of digital technology, so that ”the fate of image is from now on numerical” (Edmond Couchot) and the significant areas are now scattered in bits and bytes, until only “point universes” (Flusser) remain. Can the producer leave the surface and program equipment, with data controlled by insects and machines, which in themselves turn into the actual producers or synthesize sounds into images?

In their attempt to avoid the classical visual image, which would mean to “hang pictures on the wall”, the artists re-interpret this gesture in a new way. Even when their works do not produce something visual, an image appears to be their only possible form. Both sound sculptures and performances that include many amenities, fire-spectacles or housefly-installations experimenting with controlled “randomness”, all these works deal with the movement of drawing, letting this technical spectacle become the ultimate image itself.

Within these subjects, the role of the artist gains more and more importance. The different interpretations of the observer not only provoke the question “Who is the artist?”, but also reiterate it over and over. In this constellation the image neither represents a result nor a starting point. It appears to be much more a“porous membrane”, both present and obsolete; dominant and invisible at the same time. In this manner, the exhibition focuses on the artist and not primarily on the artworks, expatiating upon the whole system as machinery. In this act of transformation, software and art switch places. A “drawing machine” develops and at the same time the artist steps back – deliberately. In this position, literally “vanishing”, he/she paradoxically becomes more dominant than ever. By keeping a physical distance to his/her artwork, the artist re-interprets his/her role and maintains a boundary to him-/herself through self-observation. This act turns a form of non-existence into powerful presence.

 Photo: Loukas Bartatilas

Images from the exhibition:

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Sanela Jahić: Cerebral Values of Mechanic Beauty, text by Ida Hiršenfelder

Text by Ida Hiršenfelder, published in Passengers from the Absolute to the Relative (Publication Studio):

Sanela Jahić
Cerebral Values of Mechanic Beauty

─ »With the unyielding and rigid mechanic mind-set that is ill-suited for modern fluidity, I am an emotional and cognitive dogmatist plagued by closed-heartedness and closed-mindedness.« (Sanela Jahić: Guide to perfectionism, in Excerpts on Fire Painting,

In the following passage I would like to think about some of the aspects of the intrinsic value in art works by a young yet prolific and intellectually rigorous artist Sanela Jahić. It would be wise to start with short descriptions to use as a guide in further reading in which I will attempt to show some of the possible entry points to the interpretation of her complex constructions. The short descriptions are going to be comprised mainly of technical details, functionalities, reference points and direct narratives, strongly relying on the texts published on the artist's blog and conversations at her studio. Her works are purposefully conceptualized to appear as though they are offering “a potentially infinite plurality of interpretations, that are open in their meaning, and do not impose on the spectator any specific ideology, or theory, or faith.” If we are to understand this quote that the artist takes from Groys correctly, this can be sometimes a bit misleading for it is easy to get carried away when contemplating her usage of utterly universal elements like fire, mirrors, masks, reflections, holes and caves, holographic images and visual illusions. These building blocs are as “memes” as parts of the collective unconscious, saturating every fiber of human culture that the artist reinterprets by leaning on numerous references ranging from mythology, religious iconography, films, fine art history, classic literature or politics; anything that would stimulate her cerebral endeavors. In the following list Dogma II, Scanner III & Pendulum and Fire Painting are the milestones presenting the most important aspects of her work.


Dogma II
(2004-2005) is exhibited in a dark space, the image only illuminated by an optical reader. The scanner with neon light gradually unveils the mystical picture concealed in the dark. It shows two interlaced images, reflecting the artist's experience of growing up in bipolar cultural background of a rather conservative small Catholic town in a Muslim family. The machine presents the images as an illusion or a hologram. The artist attempts to uncover and demystify the two polarities and to do away with religious beliefs all together. The front surface is framed at both ends – above and bellow – by the image of raised hands at an Islamic prayer. The mid-image is a found footage of the devil's hands peeling an egg taken from a film Angel Heart (1987) quoting: “You know, some religions think that the egg is the symbol of the soul.”1 The brain behind the surface is a rigorous mathematical logical construction of the machine, reined by an algorithmic process. Another quote from the film comes in handy:“They say there's just enough religion in the world to make men hate one another but not enough to make them love.”2 Dogma II was first exhibited at Illusions from the Remotest Times.

Roots and Rupture (2007-2008) was an intimate performance and installation in the wild. The artist came across a fallen beech tree crossing her path when strolling in the forest. She searched for the hole where the tree had been unrooted. It had appeared like a painful wound in the soil. She has found analogy between the tree and the attempts to painfully rid oneself of the roots of the tradition. She has deepened the hole for her body to entirely fit into it and covered herself with the roots. The process lasted for three months. Latter, one of the images from this piece became the carrier image for Scanner III.

Scanner III (2005-2008) is a mechanic installation. An abrupt vertical movement sets in motion a horizontal set of LED diodes that are programmed to emulate a photographic matrix in time. With the help of a Slovenian company for electronics and software development she calculated the space-time continuum. The color of each LED diode would change according to the distance it makes in relation to the speed of the moving of the scanner and to the color relation in the matrix of the carrier image. The picture from Roots and Rupture performance appears in a flash like a holographic or a de-materialized image. It projects the hole in the ground intertwined by tree roots indicating a space where a tree was unrooted. The installation goes hand in hand with Pendulum (2007-2008) that is based on the same key principles producing an illusion of the image as well as making a contemporary interpretation of kinetic art sculpture – specifically the later refers to Duchamp's Rotorelief. Both machines are constructed using two literary references: the pitch black pit in Scanner resembles the end of Edgar Allan Poe's The Pit and the Pendulum (1842). The beginning of that story is portrayed in the movement of Pendulum swaying from side to side, while the image appears not by swaying but by powerful circular rotation of LED diodes. Needless to say, the algorithm for calculating the distance in relation to speed in a circular movement is even more complex than the one where the movement is vertical. The image is simultaneously appearing and disappearing. It is likewise based on a literary reference interpreting the brutal machine in Franz Kafka's The Penal Colony (1914). It shows the artist's back scared with a harrow in the same way as The Officer in The Penal Colony inscribes the laws into the bodies of The Condemned, as society inscribes its rules onto our identities. A detailed interpretation of the two mechanisms can be found in the text In Medias res.

Two Faced Mirror (2007-) is a mechanic object. A mirror is framed in a gold baroquesque ornament equipped with a sensor and back-side mechanism, which would slightly break the angle of the mirror when the observer approached it to make the reflection disappear. At first, this is an eerie encounter, reminiscent of a popularized film iconography of soulless monsters trading humanity for eternal life. One could draw analogies between baroque ornament and contemporary kitsch. Perhaps recognize the dispersed subject in pop culture who is adhered to the repression of design or cosmetic and surgical industry, where form has completely devoured any need for content or intellectual reflection and resulted in producing idiotic slogans like Franco Moschino's Ceci n'est pas une boutique. But a more precise reading of the piece would imply to Gilles Deleuze's The Fold (1988) where he developed Leibniz's baroque philosophy and identifies it as the key concept to understand contemporary science and art. The contemporary world is comprised of folds that contract space, movement, and time into limitless patterns that are constantly in the process of becoming. So is the contemporary subject, signified by multitude of identities in motion.

Mask (2008-2010) is a series of three mirror masks inspired by Bauhaus theater and dance director Oskar Schlemmer. It is a continuation in the artist's exploration of the fold. The mask is built to protect the artist from the intrusive fragmentation of the contemporary subject. It is the direct reflection of the world without any signification of the person wearing it. Mask is allowing her a complete fluidity, not burdened either by age, beauty, social status, gender, race, religious belief or any other signifier.

Fire Painting (2010) is a cybernetic construction. It is composed of a set of 16 pumps creating pressure and pushing a lavish green color kerosene oil mixture through the nozzles when the valves are released. The kerosene is sparked to combustion creating a formidable brilliant flame. The combustion is controlled by subtle movements of the sensor glove worn by the artist/participant/viewer. One is literary playing with fire. The idea is built on a paradox of tactile handling of this primal element, using it as color on a canvas like an action painter. The participant controls the image yet it constantly alludes him or her. Fire is the ultimate intangible and unstable light-based medium, therefore any digital or electronic image can be emulated in its light (screens, projectors, televisions). In fact, the 4x4 nozzles function like 16 pixels image. Tinny gestures with the glove trigger forceful and unpredictable changes mesmerizing one to a stand still and bringing one to a complete rapture. Again the artist strives to capture the gaze, to catch the time of the moment. Furthermore, the entire construction is supported by a completely translucent “bodiless” containers custom made out of glass. Jahić radicalizes the painting much further from a simple translation of time-based art into an analogue medium. She eliminates the carrier of the image entirely. The only carrier is the mathematical algorithm that translates movements of the sensors into opening of the valves causing combustion. She herself explains it as an interest in the possibilities of formalist questions of modernism in contemporary art; that of the vibration of the color and that of the frame of the painting, only that she adopts a much more mystical turn using fire that is visually intoxicating and hallucinatory. There is no more frame, no more edge, just endless folds of infinite becoming of the image.


1. Aesthetic Perfection

“The machines for cynics and perfectionists” – as Sanela Jahić calls them – perpetuate the rigor of her obsessive endeavor to be precise in the way she treats an idea in visual and mechanic aesthetics. The machines, the objects constitute a seemingly impossible image. They are based on paradoxes and the work of Sisyphus, bringing forward a strong conviction that the intelligence of the machines is defined solely by formalist aesthetics and impeccable performance. These immaculate devices defy the postulates of aesthetic solutions of the DIY principles which are supposed to display the crude unsophisticated manner in which it is built. Her mechanisms are characterized by a relation of the membrane usually represented in an illusory holographic light image (as in Scanner III, Pendulum, Fire Painting, Knitting Machine), and the intricate logic that is governed by the pure mathematics of the mechanic functions and the program language. The obvious difference of the visible membrane and the hidden core is not a duality but an individual form of life much like a cybernetic organism. Her constructions are living entities that fold and unwrap in numerous images created on the membrane of the eye. One cannot differentiate the visible membrane “the outside” from the hidden structure “the inside” for they both play its own accord, as Deluze puts it: “The simplest way of stating the point is by saying that to unfold is to increase, to grow; whereas to fold is to diminish, to reduce, to withdraw into the recesses of a world. Yet a simple metric change would not account for the difference between the organic and the inorganic, the machine and its motive force. It would fail to show that movement does not simply go from one greater or smaller part to another, but from fold to fold. When a part of a machine is still a machine, the smaller unit is not the same as the whole.”3

Each cultural reference and each string of thought that Jahić knits into the fabric of an individual piece would produce a set of folds that make the work an ever expanding plane of associations and interpretations. Using elements like fire in the Fire Painting produce all the related meanings symbolizing purification, destruction, life, illusion and so forth. The Mechanical Book would like wise be connected to anything related to history, memory, language, meaning, linearity. The Mask would be interpreted as a reverse mirror stage in psychology, a critique of the ideals of the beauty in contemporary society or a critique of the social identities all together. The works are all of these things and neither of them, for they are constantly changing the meaning depending entirely on the observer. In this aspect the simplicity of form and errorless functionality is necessary to enable a complexity of the meaning. For Jahić an ornament remains a crime, because it obscures the pure functionalities of the piece. She is inclined to demand an impeccable perfection without the “human” factor. That is why she would often label them as Utopian, for such an endeavor is bound to be disappointing, yet she never gives up. Like Prometheus she is stealing the fire from the gods (idealism – the membrane) and gives it to humans (realism – the mechanism). Furthermore, it is imperative that the machines cannot be entirely flawless, for they indicate an impossibility of a complete rapture, for only pure logic is entirely sure of oneself. The artist's references to Utopian tradition is perhaps best recognized in her usage of avant-guard imagery of the Bauhaus (Oscar Schlemmer's mask) or kinetic art (Duchamp's Rotorelief). It is of some importance that she had concluded her masters thesis in Weimar where the sounds of Bauhaus school still resonates in the Academy hallways.

2. A Glitch in Time
The focal point and the prevailing material for Sanela Jahić's obsessive works is a strong sensation there is something wrong with our perception of space, or time, or both. But the crucial point of the perception of reality are not space-time, but speed. Light that appears in virtually all of her works is a form of electromagnetism that travels with speed of approximately 300 million kilometers per second with a small delay. Not that she would necessary utilize her art to understand physical laws, she is only attempting to interpret the given reality or her profound doubt into its objective existence. An important aspect of her numerous works is “time dilation” – a term from the theory of relativity. It states that the faster the object travels the slower the time would pass and if it would travel with the speed of light, time would come to a deadlock all together. Sanela Jahić shows the tendency to speed up her mechanic objects and capture the gaze to an almost mystical standstill. One of her methods would be the undertaking of strenuous and enduring processes of production, another would be the implementation of most absurd materials or ideas. This of course depends on the immediate reception of the work, therefore any attempt to capture it into a document is to some extend a failed experiment.

Most of these works are also based on a photographic image that enhances the idea of a non-linear perception of time. By a multitude of media translations and repetitive sequences or loops of the image she induces the internal dialectics of the work and the image that always bears the ambiguous or connotative complexes of symbols. She explores how to activate an image into movement that would challenge the frequency of the eye which is otherwise highly accustomed the perceiving digital light emission. How would the picture move without being enslaved to the known formats? “The time reconstructed by scanning is an eternal recurrence of the same process. Simultaneously, however, one's gaze also produces significant relationships between elements of the image. It can return again and again to a specific element of the image and elevate it to the level of a carrier of the image's significance... The space reconstructed by scanning is the space of mutual significance. This space and time peculiar to the image is none other than the world of magic, a world in which everything is repeated and in which everything participates in a significant context.”6

Thus time, memory and history are consequences of technology, the relation between reproduction and mimesis, images and history, remembering and forgetting, allegory and mourning, and visual and linguistic representation. If we are to set the beginning of history at the time of the beginning of writing, we now find ourselves again at the point where the linearity is dispersed. We are in a perfect condition to have a complete historic amnesia. “The true picture of the past flits by. The past can be seized only as an image which flashes up at the instant when it can be recognized and is never seen again... For it is an irretrievable image of the past that threatens to disappear with every present that does not recognize itself as intended in it.”4 All the works to some extend deal with the function of language and ideologies some a bit more then others like Dogma II, Pendulum, Speaking Void or Mechanical Book. For the later, it is perhaps worth to note that the book does not so much attempt to criticize the gradual pervasion of the digital book, reading in a hyper text environment, and the death of hard copies, but the death of content, of the ideas being lost or intentionally forgotten. 

3. The Sounds of Aggression

Aesthetic perfection of artistic machines constructed by Sanela Jahić in close cooperation with her partner Andrej Primožič represent a Utopian paradox, but there is another part of them that indicates a Dystopic view of the technological achievements. The horizon of the work is “tuned to a dead channel”5. The rhythm of her work is often gloomy and disturbing as though she is writing science fiction of the current times. The machines are cold and discomforting i.e. Mask. Some of these organisms are specifically violent and arbitrary. They react according to their own design and are not to be toyed with. This is true for Dogma II and even more for Scanner III and Pendulum which are in fact switched on by the visitor, but apart from that the visitor would have no control over their perpetual and malevolent movements. Scanner III moving swiftly cutting brutally through the air like a guillotine and Pendulum swinging and rotating endlessly, swishing by like the horror of Poe's story. There is another point to this violent behavior of the machines that becomes very evident in The Fire Painting, The Knitting Machine and The Mechanical Book – the importance of sound and rhythm produced by the mechanism. Most subtly it is manifested in The Fire Painting where an experienced painter like the artist herself makes a very carefully structures experimental sound composition produced by the subtle noise of combustion and opening of the nozzles. An inexperienced painter – a random visitor – usually does quite poorly in that respect.

The aggression and the noise of the machine implies also a political agenda that is present as a fiber in all the works but is never quite outspoken. Feminist and political critique is latently implied but never a starting aspect of the utterance. For the artist the epistemological question of the perception and her interest in the pure form of art always stands as the initial point of interest. All other interpretations are second to this. Nevertheless, the initial idea for the Fire Painting was to be performed by politicians to observe what sort of devastation their smallest movements and actions cause. This was quite a humorous expression of the artist's doubt of the benevolence of “democratic” system. On the other hand, she shows a lot of interests into the ideas of socialism, social sensitivity and egalitarianism. In hacking images and ideologies in Dogma II, Knitting Machine and Mechanical Book she takes in account the conclusion of French critical film theory that the ruling ideology is not only present in the technical image produced via apparatuses, but is installed in the very device – into the camera. Jahić moves her Fire Painting performance outside of the gallery not only to attract various audiences but also to loose the frame of the gallery setting entirely. First, she erases the brim of the picture. Then, gets rid of institutional carrier of art all together.

Likewise, her atheist position can be associated with most of her work. Stating, that religious believes are for the weak, for the past, and a nuisance inhibiting the future of humanity. For the Future is the Machine, strict and structured. Flawless. The hope for the future is drawn from the Utopian dream of a scientific future, rather the angst for the machine controlled society. In this deliberation it is possible to note another cause that had led her to pursue a highly polished and superb aesthetics. Each of her attempts at a perfection expresses deep respect for the technical achievements of the civilization. She is not discriminatory of any of these efforts, but rather equally values computers, machines or the development of fabricated materials like glass. In the piece Mask one tracks a long history of reflections dating far back to the first polished copper mirror 4000 BC in Mesopotamia, to the invention of glass mirrors, to its demise in the gloom of the medieval castration of Narcissus, to the renaissance painters like Velasquez or van Eyck looking for their own image in the back of their commissioned portraits, becoming aware of their “artistic genius”. Jahić subverts this idea in reflecting the entire space making only herself disappear.

It is perhaps not entirely insignificant that the mirror has been attribute to the vanity of a woman. The artist – being a women herself – does not overtly deal with women issues, but this is nevertheless strongly present in her work. Women portrayed with a mirror in fine arts were intended for the male gaze while simultaneously being morally judged (depictions of Venus with the Mirror by renaissance artist like Rubens, Titian, or Velasquez). The eerie Mask completely subverts the notions attributed to the view of oneself. The Mask is non-genderdized, ageless, classless, raceless, religiousless, stripped of any social signifier. If feminism is a project of self-reflection and asserting one's own position in the world, what happens when it becomes a total reflection of the world? The Mask in totemic rituals reveals the force of a uniform subjectivity, that is possible only in the symbolic order and not on the level of everyday life. In Mask the subjectivity becomes an endless fold and simultaneously disappears. Same happens in the Two Faced Mirror. The intention of Jahić is to give an individual open possibilities rather then another set of signifiers. 

– Text by Ida Hiršenfelder

1 Parker, Alan: Angel Heart, 1987
2 Ibid.
3 Deluze, Gilles: Guba, Študentska založba, zbirka Koda, 2009
4 Flusser, Vilém: Towards a Philosophy of Photography, Reaktion Books, 2007
5 An expression used in Gibson, William: Neuromancer, 1984.
6 Lowy, Michael; Turner, Chris: Fire Alarm: Reading Walter Benjamin's "On the Concept of History, 2006

Friday, November 25, 2011

Pixxelpoint 2011, 12th International New Media Art Festival, Nova Gorica - Gorizia, 2.-9. December 2011



Link to the festival program

Link to the Pixxelpoint 2011 exhibition catalog

Photo by Sendi Mango / BridA

The link to my radio interview regarding the Pixxelpoint Award 2011, among other things (in Slovenian language):

Monday, November 14, 2011

SOCIOKINETIKUM, Galerija Ivana Groharja, Škofja Loka, 17.11.-11.12.2011

Večji del  umetniške produkcije Sanele Jahić, ki smo jo v zadnjih letih imeli priložnost spremljati na številnih ključnih slovenskih in mednarodnih prizoriščih sodobne umetnosti, že vseskozi nastaja v zelo zahtevnem območju konstruiranja zapletenih umetniških strojev in naprav.  Njen, navidezno prevladujoč svet tehnoloških eksperimentov pa je vse prej kot le svet tehnologije  »per se«. S svojimi stroji ima umetnica nek, skorajda Kafkovski odnos.  Vizualno in konstrukcijsko delikatne naprave/objekte namreč Jahićeva že nekaj let razvija  predvsem v sociološkem kontekstu pa tudi likovnem smislu  raziskovanja  pojma in pomena slike/slikovnega. V svet strojev, za katerega naj bi sicer veljal značaj nezmotljivosti in brezhibnosti, avtorica nenehno razvojno posega v smeri njegovega vedno novega izpopolnjevanja. S tem vanj vnaša  element človeškega faktorja in s tem možnosti napake  ter določeno krhkost pa tudi možnost popravkov ali regeneracije nekega stanja. Tehnologijo avtorica torej izrablja zlasti v smislu raziskave samih  procesov, skozi katere se preko različnih medijev proizvajajo v naš svet fenomeni podobe/videza/pojavnosti, ki je prav tako krhka in v svojem bistvu spremenljiva. Na ta način avtorica posledično tematizira  ključna vprašanja  povezana   s pojmi človekove percepcije kot take in slike kot mnogo bolj razširjenega vizualnega polja od zgolj  »iluzionističnega okna« ali »ekrana«, ki ga je nekoč umetno uokvirilo klasično slikarstvo. A pri tem se Jahićeva ne odreka (klasičnim) slikarskim vprašanjem, mnogim prav s tem ostaja zavezana, le da se jim v iskanju in nenehnem prespraševanju avtentične narave slike skuša približati  iz drugega zornega kota. Zato tudi sam koncept projektov temelji na istočasnem sprejemanju a hkrati tudi preseganju obstoječih omejitev. Torej na tistem produktivnem eklekticizmu, ki omogoča sveže/drugačne umetniške spoje.

Avtoričino strukturiranje projektov tako namenoma  temelji na zavestnem kombiniranju zahtevnih in sofisticiranih sodobnih mehanizmov s  preverjenimi starimi tehnologijami. To omogoča odkrito soočanje ne le prednosti ampak tudi slabosti različnih praks in rezultira v učinkovitih hibridnih rešitvah, vključno z njihovimi možnimi napakami. S tem seveda Jahićeva predvsem  formalizira svojo osnovno vsebinsko vodilo, saj se v resnici preko vseh teh hi/low-tech strojev  podaja v še mnogo bolj poduhovljene in poglobljene teme. V, danes oddaljen in tihi svet Platonove votline, kjer ne razdeluje več toliko likovna, kot že bolj filozofska vprašanja. V svet razmišljanja o razmerjih in nasprotjih, o izvornem v obsegu ideja-slika-iluzija-resnica-predmet-podoba. In ker so njena stališča  zavestno tako polna tistih lastnih notranjih kontradikcij in nenehnih prespraševanj, bi lahko rekli, da so blizu celo konceptu t.i. Objektivne misli (Bachelard). Pa tudi umetniški produkciji zgodovinskih avantgard, ki so prav tako prakso ustvarjanja navideznih vizualnih nesporazumov že takrat prepoznale  kot vitalno  pogonsko gorivo umetnosti s specifično estetiko.

Jahićeva  razmišlja v smeri kritične in pametne uporabe tehnologij in strojev  v smislu poskusa preseganja ustaljenih konceptov, raziskovanja nerešljivega, širjenja našega obzorja, kot je vrednote take  prakse poudarjal tudi Meštrovič (Nove tendence). Torej po načelu sprejemanja znanega z željo po kontinuiranem spreminjanju. Njena slika zato, tako kot nekoč Malevičeva, danes (ponovno/še vedno)  ne želi biti tisto lažno okno in prevara, ki z iluzijo neke naslikane podobe  prekrije pravo resnico o njej kot ploskovitem kosu platna, premazanem s pigmentom. Jahićeva želi »zgolj« po/kazati  na njeno pravo resničnost, seveda na njej  lasten in inovativen način. Svojo sliko namreč gradi iz, za klasično slikarstvo, nenavadnih elementov kot sta npr. ogenj in svetloba, ki pa ju razume kot možen alternativni slikarski material. Želi pokazati njihov videz, tak kot je v resnici -kot sta to reševala že Bauhaus in konstruktivisti in  miselnosti katerih je tudi sama, zaradi širine in odprtega, vizionarskega pogleda v prihodnost tako privržena. Paradoks pri tem pa je, da je ta videz zelo težko uloviti, omejiti. Netaktilne, nestatične, pretočne oblike podob, zgrajene iz efektov svetlobnih sevanj, preko teh strojev, v zelo kratkih časovnih intervalih nenehno nastajajo in izginevajo. Njihov fluidni videz je nemogoče ujeti v nek stabilen okvir, ki bi nam omogočal  fiksacijo pogleda na njen videz. Tu pa nastopi trik, saj s poskusom razkritja slike in njene materije,  v vsej njeni avtentični »goloti«,  pride prav do  tistega paradoksalnega, nasprotnega efekta, ki ga avtorica pravzaprav v resnici išče in tudi uporabi kot osrednje gorivo svojih projektov. Ker gre za nematerialno sliko, ki je v svoji izginjajoči in spreminjajoči se naravi neoprijemljiva, le ta učinkuje prav tako iluzorno. A dejstvo, da nastala podoba ni mišljena kot prevara, ampak je resnična in avtentična ter ima celo svoje »napake«, celoto postavlja v čisto nasprotno luč od pogostega siceršnjega  slikarskega iskanja laži. 

Kontinuirano gibanje in spreminjanje vseh teh polzečih slik, ki jih proizvajajo avtoričini stroji in naprave, daje celoti še dodatno vlogo vizualnega dogodka. Razumemo ga lahko tudi kot sklepni avtoričin samo/ironični komentar, ki pokaže, kako  dvoumne in relativne pomene pravzaprav  nosi vsakršna ideja slike kot take; tako v kontekstu terminološkega konteksta besede kot v simbolnem kontekstu obravnavanja podobe. Eksplicitna prisotnost konstrukcije stroja kot nosilca in okvirja iz/preko/v/na katera se pretakajo slike oziroma njene substance, nakazuje prav to relativnost. Bodisi, da gre za avtoričino Ognjeno sliko, za Sekalce, za Skener, za Masko, za Mehanična knjigo ali druge, ki bi jim po Groysu lahko rekli celo »paradoks-objekti«, Jahićeva v njih nadgrajuje stare resnice. V nenehni veri v smisel sprememb išče nove, saj ve, da ne obstaja le ena sama. V kontekstu razstave, ki je zasnovana kot poskus prereza avtoričinega dosedanjega ustvarjanja, se slednje tako lahko končno pokaže tudi kot povezovalna, večplastna zgodba vseh njenih projektov, hkrati pa njen Platonistični odnos do sveta prav na ta način pride še posebej do izraza.


Dizajn: Tina Brezovnik

Thursday, October 20, 2011

V sodelovanju s Stefanom Doepnerjem: Mehanična knjiga // In collaboration with Stefan Doepner: Mechanical Book, Galerija Kapelica, 25.10. - 15.11.2011


Galerija Metropolis, Kersnikova 6, Ljubljana
Otvoritev: torek, 25. oktobra 2011, ob 21.00 uri

'Mehanična knjiga' je sistem plastičnih cilindrov, ki se posamično dvigajo in spuščajo na podlagi matrice elektromagnetov, ki je pozicionirana pod tuljavami cilindrov. Ko se tipke Mehanične knjige premikajo navzgor in navzdol, njihove kombinacije tvorijo posamezne črke, zaporedje teh besede in niz zadnjih stavke. V knjigo umeščena kinetična, mehanična dimenzija narekuje ritem branja. Do kod lahko posameznik sledi določenemu načinu prikazovanja in razbiranja besed, izpisovanja in brisanja informacij, vsebine? Koliko se ob tem ohrani v spominu? Ker je izpis besed oz. informacij vključen v proces avtomatizacije, se lahko zgodi, da se branje knjige ujame v neskončno zanko ponavljanj. "Kot vsak stroj tudi 'Mehanična knjiga' včasih stori (ne)namerno napako in vsebina se spremeni..." (1) Morda je vanjo načrtno vgrajen 'defekt' kot podrejen faktor. Knjiga je spremenljiv objekt, konstruiran aparat.

(1) Polona Balantič: 'Podvojen Prešernov x in slovenska tehnološka umetnost',, 28.6.2011

Strokovna podpora:
Andrej Primožič, f18institut / cirkulacija2, Katja Sudec


Projekt so omogočili: Ministrstvo za kulturo RS, MOL - Oddelek za kulturo, Občina Škofja Loka, Veleposlaništvo Republike Slovenije v Berlinu

# Galerija Kapelica - Galerija za sodobno raziskovalno umetnost



Link to HD video.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Muzej robotov // Robot Museum, Umetnostna galerija Maribor, 29.09.–06.11.11

UGM l Maribor Art Gallery, Strossmayerjeva 6 and RSR | Rotovž Exhibition Salon, Trg Leona Štuklja 2
Opening: Thursday, 29 September 2011 at 19:00 in RSR with performance Fire Painting by Sanela Jahić  

Authors: Srečo Dragan, Stefan Doepner, Luka Drinovec, Luka Frelih, Sanela Jahić, Zoran Srdić Janežič, Boštjan Kavčič, Nika Oblak & Primož Novak, Borut Savski, Sašo Sedlaček, Maja Smrekar, son:DA, Robertina Šebjanič, Igor Štromajer in Branko Zupan  

The exhibition Robot Museum includes fields such as interactivity, robotics, informatics and multimedia. It’s the first comprehensive exhibition of this part of contemporary Slovenian art. The project involves exploration, production and exhibition of robots and their cultural content, as well as software-art, intermedia installations and performance. The word robot means a machine controlled by computer and programmed to move or perform specific tasks. This universal term was first used by Czech writer Karel Čapek (suggested by his brother Josef Čapek) in his play R.U.R (Rossum’s Universal Robots, 1920). In industry robots perform repetitive tasks or carry heavy loads. Some are designed to work in dangerous situations or they explore space and sea depths. They are equipped with sensors or video cameras and are even programmed to make decisions.  

Until recently Slovenia hasn’t devoted much attention to robots and their contextualization in fine arts. This exhibition is based on previous researches and theoretical placements, and presents a transition from kinetic to cybernetic art. It will also raise questions about placement of robots as new media products in the field of arts. At the same time it will establish a bridge between science and art which are subjects of separate disciplines, but in the case of robots they represent an indispensable link.  

In the Slovenian arts for the last twenty years robots appeared in artwork of artists like Srečo Dragan, Dušan Bučar, Luka Drinovec, Borut Savski, Stefan Doepner, Boštjan Kavčič… So far there have been fifteen projects related to robots (Sašo Sedlaček, Robertina Šebjanič, Luka Frelih, Maja Smrekar, Igor Štromajer, Nika Oblak & Primož Novak, Zoran Srdić Janežič, Branko Zupan, Sanela Jahić...). Most of the artists were participants of the International Festival of Computer Arts (1995-2008) and unfortunately some of their older artwork is lost.   

With this project Maribor Art Gallery and MKC Maribor would like to present phenomena of robots in the arts and culture. The exhibition aims to encourage connection and dialogue between technical culture, its development and artwork, while developing innovative transfer of knowledge and skills.  

Concept by: Jože Slaček
Curator: Meta Kordiš
Co-production: MKC Maribor  

Photo by Ivan Leskošek Copyright Umetnostna galerija Maribor
Photo by Ivan Leskošek Copyright Umetnostna galerija Maribor
Photo by Ivan Leskošek Copyright Umetnostna galerija Maribor
Večer, sobota, 24. september 2011, članek Meta Kordiš, kustosinja UGM
"Umetnostna galerija na drugem koncu Slovenije bo utripala v digitalnih impulzih. V Mariboru bo ob 19. uri odprtje razstave Muzej robotov, ki jo je zasnoval Jože Slaček. Povprašali smo ga o njegovem zanimanju za to področje." + "O vlogi kustosinje pri tem projektu pa smo povprašali Meto Kordiš." (Radio Študent, Kulturne novice, 29. 9. 2011, Zora Žbontar)

22.10.11  GUIDED TOUR / ROBOT MUSEUM"Along with the guided tour, Sanela Jahić will execute the performance Fire Painting (2010). It is a cybernetic construction, which is composed of a set of 16 pumps creating pressure and pushing a lavish green colour kerosene oil mixture through the nozzles when the valves are released. The kerosene is sparked to combustion creating a formidable brilliant flame. The combustion is controlled by subtle movements of the sensor glove worn by the artist. She is literary playing with fire. The idea is built on a paradox of tactile handling of this primal element, using it as colour on a canvas like an action painter. She controls the image yet it constantly alludes her. Fire is the ultimate intangible and unstable light-based medium therefore any digital or electronic image can be emulated in its light (screens, projectors, televisions). There is no more frame, no more edge, just endless folds of infinite becoming of the image."  

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

"Passengers from the Relative to the Absolute", Publication Studio and Appendix Project Space, Portland, OR

Portland, Oregon. They say young people come to retire here. This summer a close friend of mine, David Knowles, invited me to come to Portland for what panned out to be a working vacation. David is the art director and print designer at Publication Studio, a laboratory "maker of special, constructed-one-at-a-time-by-hand books sold all over the world" with great philosophy on publication: "What PS makes a lot of, what we are growing, is "publics," not print-runs. Publication is the creation of a public. A public is strangers who have found common ground. It might be a public square or a community garden or a book - public space is any place where all are welcome and all who arrive have equal claim. For us, that's the space of literature. We make books as a kind of public space; and we extend that space into a digital commons (all our books can be read free and annotated online); we also host the social life of books."[1]  David designed and put together a really nice book about my work. The book is entitled Passengers from the Absolute to the Relative. From the Publication Studio site: Sanela Jahić, an emerging Slovenian artist, has documented her work in Passengers from the Absolute to the Relative and discusses the boundaries and dynamics of contemporary painting practices in relation to her mechanical image-making machines. This publication encompasses a broad survey of Jahić's work with machines, mirrors and masks and features essays by Urška Jurman, Ida Hiršenfelder and Alen Ožbolt. Passengers from the Absolute to the Relative is going to go to the NY Art Book Fair, a copy of it was sold to MoMA and there is even one on the shelf at Yale University! (You can check some of David's other design work and activities here & here.) 

Publication Studio + Book Launch and Artist Talk

Passengers from the Absolute to the Relative by Sanela Jahić

92 pp.
8.5" x 6" x .25"

ISBN: 9781935662778 (permalink)
hashtag: #pftattrPubStud

The book was published on the occasion of my first exhibition in the United States at Portland's Appendix Project Space. David got me into contact with Zachary Davis and Travis Fitzgerald, who, together with Joshua Pavlacky, are the co-curators of this venue for the production and display of contemporary art, performances and project-oriented, experimental installation works. In Kinki Magazine, Travis explains the character of Appendix: "We're less interested in tangible end products of an artist than with having a dialog with him/her. That's why we invite our artists to spend three weeks with us, to exchange ideas with one another, to discuss and develop the work." Zachary sees Portland as a magnet and emerging platform for young art: "There's an energy here that deliberately breaks the established rules. We haven't experienced it in other cities in the US." According to Travis, it's also much easier to meet people here. "The people I know in New York tell me that it's extraordinarily difficult to make contacts there, because nobody has time. Everyone is constantly under stress, fighting for survival. In Portland it's not so hard, because it's cheaper here. We can manage, for instance, to rent an entire house and have enough space to expand into a studio and exhibition space." Appendix was deliberately conceived as a non-commercial space. The team finances it themselves. The Kinki Magazine article concludes: "In contrast to the 'American Dream', the Portland art scene shows a different face of the USA, far from megalomania and profit greed. The increasingly industrial-appearing art market in defiance is developing an avant-garde here who, as a consequence, can live out their ideas. That suggests that the saying 'Land of the free, home of the brave' has not quite lost its meaning yet." Zack and Travis think out of the box. Think different. I spent two amazing weeks at Appendix. 

Zack prepared a short description of my work for the press release: "Distilling the essential powers claimed by various modes of creation —painting's living evidence of touch, or the power of the word to remake the past—Jahić creates for herself situations of enhanced mechanical advantage. At one time, the hand held the charred stick, and the stick touched the world. Here, embodied in elaborate engineering, and suspended at a theoretical distance by inanimate causal series, the basic interaction is elongated and radically transformed."[2] 
The opening of the Passengers from the Absolute to the Relative show was electrifying. The place was packed! After I gave my Fire Painting performance, this time with two pixels only, two people from the audience were invited to try and orchestrate the machine's response for themselves. The first participant was terrified of fire. I ensured her the machine was perfectly safe, but that didn't help her overcome the nerves, or the phobia. Her hand, now wearing the glass data glove, was trembling in the air, timidly pointing at the apparatus. The fingers bent and flexed, stumbled uncontrollably, which translated into agitated, sudden jerks of fire explosions in front of the transparent plane. The audience stayed with her, encouraging in exclamation: "Come on, you can do it!" The following partaker was fundamentally different. He was good, as good or better than me, despite this being his first interaction with the machine. "It's like playing a piano, isn't it?" His reciprocal synergy with fire was gentle, sensitive and smooth, a getting-to-know-one-another relationship between the fiery image and himself. Rather than huge outbursting blasts, the skillful and explorative touch inspired numerous variations within flames, creating wisps of fire paintings that differed each time. I was impressed. The two actions came from two diverse types of interaction, resulting in two memorable performances.

Photo by Edward G Sharp

Photo by Jamie Marie Wälchli
Portland is lovely in the summer. There's Cannon Beach nearby, where a lot of the ocean footage for the movie The Goonies was shot, vibrant music scene with Nice Nice, White Rainbow, Brainstorm, a Patrick Phillips classic that is the Potka and Snoop Dogg story, tacos and burritos, discussions on sci-fi and action superhero movies... The vibe here is open - people look at you, talk to you, and are incredibly friendly. A juxtaposition to the chilly vibe one can find in some too manicured parts of Europe. Thanks to the authors of the essays in my book and Manuel for a late night debugging session. Thanks to Travis and Zack for the opportunity and all their help. And thanks to David who encouraged and facilitated this visit and its working agenda in the first place, and my boyfriend, Andrej, for joining me on the ride.