Sonja Grdina

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Artist and media critic Alessandro Ludovico interviews the three artists named Janez Janša. It’s no coincidence that they have the same name and not by chance that they share it with the former Slovenian Prime minister: they deliberately and officially changed the names they’d had from birth to Janez Janša. They also joined the right-wing SDS party led by their homonymous counterpart. After that they experienced a “visible disappearance” from having canceled their previous names but simultaneously having gained huge visibility thanks to their radical gesture. Changing your name is similar to dying: it affects more people other than just ...
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During the last 15 years – when technology has become more natural and habitual, thus causing people to lose control over it – an emerging scene of network practitioners from different fields has been actively involved in building alternative networks of communication and file sharing. Among the practitioners of this DIY networking scene, a growing number of artists have been playing a crucial role as facilitator, mediator, and commoner of knowledge and experience. The artists have been offering tools of understanding based on their will to expose and make accessible opaque systems in an effort to empower people. Daphne Dragona ...
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Art critic Ida Hiršenfelder interviews Trevor Paglen, a radical geographer with an academic background, muckraking author and outlaw artist who has been exploring the secret activities of the U.S. military and intelligence agencies for several years. Hiršenfelder and Paglen discuss here four projects: Simbology (2006) – a collection of insignia and patches used in secret operations, Missing Persons – a list of fake names used to cover up CIA agents in the war on terror, Code Names – a catalogue of words, phrases and terms employed for active military programs, and Limit Telephotography Project, which unveils the geographies of classified ...
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Domenico Quaranta, art curator and critic, writes about the 2004 project Evidence Locker by Jill Magid, now part of the permanent collection of the Whitney Museum of New York. Jill Magid is a visual artist who has focused her work since the beginning (the end of the 90s) on surveillance infrastructures and the relationship between observers and the observed. In Evidence Locker, she has built an epistolary romantic relationship with the City Watch System of Liverpool – the largest video surveillance system in all of Britain – bringing into being a story in which love and seduction become tools for ...
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The journalist and dramaturg Andreja Kopač and the media art critic Ida Hiršenfelder here discuss the unique aesthetics and discursive strategies in the work of Neven Korda. In his career that spans three decades, Neven Korda has created a range of specific performative practices that emerge at the intersection of the textual, the visual and the musical. With his projects, Korda has been emphasising the importance of theatre both in its nature of communal space as well as in the appropriation of the performative that it allows. Every instalment or performance unravels and deepens his intentions, namely searching for the ...
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Régine Debatty, Belgian curator, critic and blogger, writes about the art of Evan Roth, focusing on his TSA Communication project. Evan Roth is a graffiti artist, a hacker and an open source coder. He believes in the free circulation of anything that is digital. His works with F.A.T. lab steer attention onto the fantastic five – Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft – and related issues with humor and a mix of digital and analogic practices. In TSA Communication, he has taken his artistic creativity inside one of the most controlled and liberty-killing places in our contemporary world: airports and airplanes. He ...
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From the first human artistic expression in cave paintings until now, black has been constantly reinvented by art. Like other 20th-century artists (Rothko, Malevic, Klein) before him have done, Belgian Frederik De Wilde explores the nature of colors and produces monochromatic works, but focusing on black in a radical and scientific manner. In Hostage, as art historian Elise Aspord explains, he has created a material made up of a vertical alignment of nanotubes of carbon that can absorb almost all rays of light, thus giving a new universal reference for black. This work is the result of a close collaboration between scientists and ...
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Historians divide geological eras into different “ages”, and we can say that ours is the Plastic Age. This human-generated organic material is now part of the natural world, as the Great Pacific Plastic Patch shows. For Daniela Silvestrin, a cultural manager and curator specialized in bioart, this is where the artistic speculation of artist Pinar Yolas starts. What if life started today in these plastic wreck-filled oceans? What kinds of life forms would emerge out of this contemporary primordial ooze? Yoldas’ Ecosystem of Excess is the answer to these questions. She makes us face the issue of climate change, imagining the post-human world ...
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The 15th century Voynich Manuscript, Kandinsky’s abstract painting with a secret encoded message, militant jihadists using porn images for hidden communication and most recently computer malware embedding virus code into images on infected computers (and perhaps this text too) are examples of steganography, which can be also found in Amy Suo Wu’s works. By using Cardan Grille, substitution ciphers and camouflaged text within text in combination with invisible inks, Wu’s works are more than just highly enjoyable pieces of visual art and calligraphic design. As a combination of exhibition works, toolkit manuals and workshops, they are also pieces of practical ...
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A mysterious and controversial technology is among us: the blockchain. Constructed by unicorns piecing together the necessary building blocks of code, cryptography and incentives, it can lead humankind to Utopia, or to the Final Solution – the End. If it’s true that “It Is Easier To Imagine The End Of The World Than The End Of Capitalism,” as a popular bumper sticker warns, the artist Jaya Klara Brekke, currently pursuing a PhD on the political geographies of blockchain infrastructures, invites us to come back from elsewhere in the future to stay here and now, and not to fear indeterminacy. Written ...
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“What the Internet stood for, for a long time, is something that I’m still nostalgically supporting,” said Constant Dullaart in an interview. The Dutch artist, lecturer and curator grew up in an age of the Internet “designed to be used by everyone”. In its first years, the Internet proved to be the place of warm, authentic relationships, the place where one looked for friends, not followers, and where one engaged in peer-to-peer discussions, not in simply adding a number to a stack. Now we work in corporate backyards and, especially in social network environments, we are very easily and almost ...
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In 2010, drawing on Richard Grusin’s theory of “premediation”, the Italian artist collective IOCOSE – specializing in pranks and hoaxes – released the video In the Long Run. The video is the realistic reconstruction of the media event “death of a star”. It was realized following the ritual rules of news format displayed in such cases, staging the death of Madonna as narrated by the BBC. As the art curator and critic Domenico Quaranta explains, there is a long tradition of fake media events, the most famous being The War of the Worlds by Orson Welles. In the Long Run, however, differs from ...

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