Nikola Brabcová: Water Lily Tea
12. 6. – 7. 7. 2019
opening: 11. 6. 2019 from 6PM
workshop with Michal Klodner: 25. 6. 2019
curator: Gabriela Kotiková
in collaboration with Michal Klodner
GK: In Michal Klodner’s text, which is a part of this exhibition, the author (put very simply) speaks about the fact that it is necessary to change our consideration of technologies and their use. In a sense that it is important to create another way of communication than the one which is imposed on us and use technologies to create our own independent structures called enclaves and islands, which will better and more naturally answer to more liberal communication. Do you believe in this possibility to create a more liberal environment through the use of technologies?
NB: I think that it is important to create alternatives to the huge commercial and powerful structures and institutions and also to penetrate, influence and disturb them. To be able to use well the digital space but also take care of relationships between people through communities and associations. I think these structures should not be too closed and they should work on being as open as possible and accessible to all who are interested in them, as Michal writes in his text:
“And depending on how welcoming and open they will be, but also how stable and protected from the manipulation of trolls and parasites, they will spread. This is not about expanding control or the number of affected people! This is about creating organisms, creative and viable structures, growing through their surroundings and eventually into the complex semiosphere of our planet.
At the same time, however, it seems important to me to try to understand these media strategies and expose what we close ourselves in. We are used to moving within the scope of the beaten paths and we cease to be alert about how the systems function or who is controlling them, making money on them and how they manipulate us. I would like to know how media deform our way of seeing and what they present to us as the reality. I think the main problem is that they penetrate everything and control marketing strategies, which push us in the direction of their higher profit and they abuse everything including politics.
In his text Michal Klodner also mentions the words of Jussi Parikka, theoretician of media archeology, who offers a post-structural perspective of complex dynamic systems and he depicts phenomena like computer viruses as endemisms of the digital sphere. Can we say that it is possible to look at new media and compare them with natural structures?
I think that technological systems more and more function on the bases of natural structures and they perhaps try to simulate how we think and at the same time they influence our thinking even retroactively. When we move within the boundaries of a computer, we jump from one page to another, we communicate, we work in certain programmes, we read the news, we watch videos, we use the phone, we receive information from social media, and all of that is organized somehow. We see the world through that. The Internet can bring us closer to a large amount of information that we deform in a certain way, however. We have the tendency to believe this information and we forget that there can be other points of view that don’t get to us. We can click on the computer and see the whole world, and yet it is so hard to understand it. We are closed in individual subjects and we are not capable of looking outside of them to see where from and how things come to us.
Perhaps something so different from a human like technologies help us understand better who we are and how we function, but as a whole I think that we do not need them to understand the deeper connections. I think that we know it or at least suspect it and technologies can actually put a distance between ourselves.
Our lives are now inseparably adherent with the Internet and new technical amenities constantly keep coming. Do you think that their increasingly faster development will help to solve the current problems in the world?
I don’t think it’s necessary to constantly develop so many new technologies, to use them to improve human mental and physical abilities or that this would help to solve the ecological crisis. Production of all these new technologies consumes other mineral resources that we continue to extract. It is necessary to start to regulate and limit our needs at the expense of profit and prosperity.
We should see the world in its entirety as a system where everything is dependent on everything else, we cannot continue to indefinitely extract oil, coal and other mineral resources, ruin the soil and pollute water. We are already in the stage when it is problematic to extract these resources, the oil pinnacle is long gone and I think that even electric vehicles won’t solve much because they are dependent on more mining.
In your work on this exhibition you create some sort of an interconnection between natural and technological systems. It is a paradox, however, to interconnect nature and technologies that are in their essence not ecological.
I’m interested in paradoxes, because they help me emphasize how things function. Creating a film, installation or even a text is my way of thinking about things and formulating thoughts during a live process and at the same time sharing them with someone and reflecting on them.
For me the starting point for this installation was the idea from the book A Geology of Media about how media that appear to be intangible are actually tangible and to what extent they burden the environment. How many cables and fibers, screens, speakers and broadcasting towers surround us and what are they actually made of? I have thought about how absurd it is to spend so much time every day observing the world through telephones, computers and tablets…
I would like to turn the attention back to the viewers and allow them to enter the fragile constellation of relationships between objects and the video in which I used some quotes from the book by Radomil Hradil about the soul of a plant. I’d like to direct the view towards materials that surround us daily and rouse the impression that all is taking place just like at home on the carpet or on the kitchen counter, that we are looking on the phone while we drink water lily tea…
Gabriela Kotiková, Nikola Brabcová
transl. Vanda Krutsky
Artificial intelligence joined with biotechnology and global computation. Some consider this as progressive development towards the trans-humanistic utopia, while others see the terrifying future of our planet’s destruction. However, technologies are not one unit, they are a part of wider systems – media. They are the material part of gradually developed practices of thought and human relationships. When we see how artificial they are, detached from the nature and estranged from our understanding, we must realize that they have been created as such by our institutions. They have been summoned by them and financed in the development stage, approved, normalized and regulated. These processes reflect the current cultural image of the world, the perceived social reality and other intangible levels established by the means of communication. Therefore, if we want to understand the impact of technology, it is necessary to see it as a part of media strategies.
Media are made up of three parts: technologies, institutions and language that they use. Just like television or the Internet cannot manage without technologies, thanks to which they work, they also cannot manage without the institutions: a single TV channel would not exist, we would not be able to use our mobile phones since they would mutually disturb the transmitters and the receivers would not understand the signals. We would not be able to access any web page because the computer would not find it without the registered address and domain system, and it would be impossible to interpret data without the HTML language. The fact that media function and that we understand them is a result of an agreement. Actually, there are many collective agreements across societies. And the communication of a pertinent language of images or sentences is developed and limited by organizations – schools with approved teaching programs, boards for broadcasting and ethical codes, publishing house editors, grant committees, courts, artistic awards and censorship.
Technology – organization – language is a triangle with interconnected pinnacles, where one is defined by the two others, it influences them and is dependent on them. No media can exist without one of these three foundations.
Development of media language generally pertains to artists. They are not always the most famous ones, however. An entire history exists on how artistic language did not start to develop until new technologies for possible ways of communication started to be researched. Searching for a new process and ways to use instruments: how to communicate something that was not possible with former methods. The original artists are developers, whether they were photography chemists or hackers. They are doing something that most people do not know, do not want to understand and their success is linked to the social emancipation change.
Denaturalization is not at all a technological problem by-the-way. The relationship of communication symbols that we use – labeling words and iconic images – towards reality or nature, is denatured. Denaturalization is an epistemological problem of the language. It is either too difficult, abstract from reality, detached language, or a language not developed enough and not sensitive enough towards the events that we want to express. Technologies are mechanized or algorithmized thinking, expressed by a language: no plans, codes or tables could exist without the language that is behind them. It is true, however, that the denaturalization of the perception of symbols and related language is technologically supported.
We can hardly blame technologies or the actual developers who came with the answer for the need of social change for the fact that the administration of institutions incorrectly defined the purpose or consequence of this change, or that power structures and their interest to maintain themselves led to the use of technologies again in the same feudal way.
The mistake causing the threatened development is to give up the active approach to forming media – to request the change from someone else: not forming organizations that share the consensus of seeing the ecosystems of nature and human relations. The mistake is to try achieving this consensus, while naively using media and technologies that are in the hands of the powerful: they will not make it possible to spread the needed language and they generate only the pre-defined social structure of society, beneficial to its owners. They try in vain to succeed in the media world controlled by them. The mistake is to try to ignore the developers who create technologies as participative artistic text: and not to adopt it.
It is pointless and silly to wait for a fundamental epistemological change or revolution – and in the meantime, before it happens, to use and support in conformation the technologies adopted by capitalism, to compete for success with media that has elaborate ways of making the unwanted marginal. So much has been said about how the ways that we are forced to communicate with have significant impact on the thoughts we are able to express. Postman, McLuhan, Chomsky...
We have the freedom to diversify technologies as well as media. Everyone how they want to, can influence his/her consideration and use of technologies – connect with others and create independent enclaves and islands. And depending on how welcoming and open they will be, but also how stable and protected from the manipulation of trolls, they will spread. This is not about expanding control or the number of people covered! This is about creating organisms, creative and viable structures, intergrowing through their surroundings and eventually into the complex semiosphere of our planet.
media ecology and post-media time
Neil Postman came with the notion of media ecology already back in 1968. It is based on the fact that mutually interconnected system of media touching all areas of human life, has a huge ability to control and defines how a person acquires and processes information. Hegemonic discurses maintain control over the indoctrination of individuals and social change is subject to them. Therefore, it is necessary to pursue these relationships between media or between humans and media.
Media do not exist in a vacuum. They are mutually interconnected and it is the deciding factor of great complexity of media structures. The vocabulary of ecology is used here “because it is one the most expressive languages that can be used to indicate massive and dynamic interrelation of processes and objects, beings and things, models and mass”, writes Matthew Fuller in Media Ecologies.
Jussi Parikka, a theoretician of media archeology, offers a post-structural perspective of media as complex dynamic systems, and he depicts phenomena like computer viruses as endemitsof the digital sphere. In his book Insect Media from 2010 he expressed the idea that media are radically inhuman constructions of animal, often insect models of interaction of the environment that humans embody. It is an old theory that insect interaction is based on symbols and their cognitive affection for them, neurobiology also adds plants to this. So far, however, no artificial intelligence or super computer has been able to model the cognitive interaction of a bee swarm with flowers on surrounding meadows. They are pitifully insufficient for that.
Medium based on a system of fixed social mechanisms can mature to a point when it reached the top and ceased to develop. However it’s structures exist in a semiosphere which exceeds media, coordinate them and provide even wider scopes. Media is surpassed by a more advanced form that will possess it and with its new way of application will pull its contents from the original links and tie them to new ones. Technologies of a higher order are able to grasp the inner complexity of media, public is activated and wipe out the inconvenient mechanisms of institutions. It is possible for the succeeding post-medial structure to preserve the character of original media, and if possible, to truly reproduce their semantic systems. Medium, however, is often anchored in a certain social paradigm and paradigms change from time to time.
Media have limited time and life cycle, in which they are able to effectively distribute their products. If they get to a different environment than was historically typical for them and their operation is determined by other social powers than those that formed them and held them in the sunlight, then they find themselves in a post-media phase.
Félix Guattari wrote in 1990: “The element of suggestion, even hypnotism, in the present relation to television will vanish. From that moment on, we can hope for a transformation of mass-media power that will overcome contemporary subjectivity, and for the beginning of a post-media era of collective-individual reappropriation and an interactive use of machines of information, communication, intelligence, art and culture.”
Post-media forms are coming back to pre-media. Hegemonic symbolic power is receding to the background of collective, community, group and personal individual processes, they are disappearing and being replaced by ecology. Media content and structure are ripped up and organized according to new rules that have greater respect for the natural organization of natural and social structures.
The interference areas of pre and post media forms are so extensive that the borders are often unclear and the culture of their interactions has deep sensitivity. They are different in the sense that pre-media forms are completely untechnical, only physical and oral, while post-media is based on the experience of technologically accelerated and modified reception: however, already collapsed, pre-emptive and without institutional control. The circle is being closed when media whichthrough the processes of coding, construction and production arose from the uncertainty of pre-media, at the end of the cycle are broken again, deconstructed, brought nearer to the body and transformed through it in the circle of feedback. Multitude of such cycles with varying intensity is going on simultaneously,, through individual and collective organisms, for whose the techno-structures generate semantic worlds they are entering, co-creating and following and this modifies again their semantic automatisms.
We need the most advanced technologies in our own hands. Ungovernable viral technologies.
transl. Vanda Krutsky
The program of the Jeleni Gallery is possible through kind support of Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic, Prague City Council, State Fund of Culture of the Czech Republic, City District Prague 7
Partners: Kostka stav
Media support: ArtMap, jlbjlt.net and UMA: You Make Art