An interactive installation that transmits visitors’ heartbeats into the exhibition space; a sculpture that assumes the characteristics of an instrument in interaction with the audience; a work in which image and sound are deliberately asynchronous, serving as a possible template for perceiving false realities; an examination of the plausibility of applause – all of this is presented by the installations of this year’s MBZ:
Two seconds by Bojan Gagić (April 10-24, Ilica 77, in collaboration with the Ilica Q’Art project)
Heart Tube by Vitar Drinković (April 16–May 3, French Institute, in collaboration with the French Institute and Kontejner)
Keep Calm and Fidget On by Ana Horvat and Iva Ćurić (from April 18 in the Croatian Music Institute)
A-plauzibilno / A-plausible, by Višeslav Laboš (May 27 at the Contemporary Arts Museum foyer)
False Emotional Records
Bojan Gagić, the author of Two seconds, describes the work:
“The project is composed of one microphone placed on the street (Ilica) which reproduces the sounds of the street in the closed space with the window overlooking that same street. The difference lies in the fact that the sound is two seconds behind the image. The people, cars, trams… The asynchrony of the image and the sound serves as a possible template for perceiving false realities.
The visitor is sitting on a chair in the closed space and is looking outside the window. He/she takes the headphones which have a dual function – to annul all other possible sounds in that space and to enable the visitor to only listen to what comes through the microphone that is placed outside. In this case, the time shift is created using software (BrainModular Usine Hollyhock), but it could be any device that has the possibility of creating delays. The presentation of this work was supposed to take place in the Greta Gallery during the first week of the first lockdown, and it was supposed to be the start of the new (unrealised) programme entitled The Last Monday because it was supposed to take place on the last Monday of each month. It was created for the Greta by Boris Greiner and Boris Cvjetičanin.
In the background of this story lies the neuropsychological functioning of the auditory apparatus of mammals, that is, the perception of the reality in which the auditory stimulation is faster than other stimulations, which leads us to the conclusion that our emotional perception of the world is primarily auditory. Our ears save us. (Daniel Levitin: This Is Your Brain On Music).
Although there has been a lot of talk about music therapy in the last fifty years, it basically gave poor results up until the discovery of the mirror neurons, when the approach changed. The scientists realized that when we hear a sound of, let’s say, 440 Hz, our synapses vibrate at 440 Hz, but only if we simultaneously see the sound source, this can lead to partial recovery of synaptic connections. For example, when people who had a stroke, and one part of their body is disabled, only listen to the violin, it will not provoke any change in their body. However, if they are present at a concert where someone is playing violin, live in front of them, it can help them regain, to a certain extent, the function of the joints of the wrist and hand that are disabled. For the same reason, in the last couple of years, Germany and Switzerland, for example, started a project of treating dementia in nursing homes which gave excellent results and it basically consists of some kid playing acoustic music of their youth to the sick people.”
Gagić associates the deliberate delay in his installation with the current situation and the living conditions here and now:
“We are being consumed inside out by the daily injustice, earthquakes, pandemic, poverty, stupidity, apathy, nonsense. We are lagging behind our own selves and when it becomes our everyday life, the perception that something is wrong disappears. The emotional records become false. We lag behind the image – we are two seconds late. It is more than enough to make everything wrong.”
Bojan Gagić (Zagreb, 1969) is a multimedia artist, author of ambiental installations, performances, computer graphics, music for experimental videos, phonograph records and videos. His short poetic writings were published in most of the Croatian literary magazines. In the last couple of years he has been systematically engaged with field recording and experiments related to the relationship between body, space, sound, memories. He is also a technical leader of various theatre, film and music festivals. He lives and works in Zagreb.
We Share the Same Heart
HEART TUBE by Vitar Drinković is, as the author explains, “an interactive installation that transmits the heartbeats of four individuals simultaneously into the exhibition space in real-time. The sculpture explores human communication and interconnection through a simple biological process, focusing on the heart as an organ that is extremely affected by external stimulation and inner processes. The functioning of the heart makes all the physiological and psychological changes momentarily, directly and unwittingly visible through deviations of the rhythm. These deviations amplify and become visible when the heart sounds and their rhythm are transformed into light and strong, tactile vibrations. The intensity and the rhythm of light and sound in turn have an effect on the functioning of the hearts of the people connected through the sculpture, creating a „communication loop“ and a sort of interconnectedness in the cybernetic sense. By experimenting with the interface of technology and the biological, the work speculates on the possibilities of creating new, different ways of communication and perception- based on direct and uncontrolled biological processes.
Foto: Alex Drvenkar, Darko Skrobonja, Zvonimir Ferina
Drinković initiated the research for this project in 2013, working on his master’s thesis Interactivity as a Medium Making Sense and further developed the idea during the residence in Pilsen, the European Capital of Culture. The Kontejner Art Bureau ordered further development of the concept and, with the support of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia, the current version of the work was created.
Drinković concludes: “The work is experimenting with a new kind of openness distilled by its interaction, the one that derives from our body through unconscious communication. In the world extremely lacking trust, a new, transparent approach might be necessary; the approach of empathy, understanding and responsibility for ourselves and the world. Our impact on the world as a human race is too strong and we should take on the role of the guardians instead of being exploiters. What we do to each other and to the world we are creating for ourselves, we are globally inevitable, intertwined, and we share the same heart ever if we are not aware of it.”
Multimedia artist Vitar Drinković (Zagreb, 1983) graduated in Sculpture from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb in 2008. and in Animated Film and New Media in 2014, from the same Academy. He says his work lies at an intersection between technology, science and art, and by employing different interactive sculptures, gadgets, inventions and installations as intermediaries of communication, he creates new contexts for the sensory and cognitive perception of daily life.
The Sound-Activating Audience
Composer Ana Horvat and visual artist Iva Ćurić created the interactive sound installation Keep Calm and Fidget On specifically for the MBZ 2021. Interactive playful installations, such as this one, are one of their common areas of interest. They say that their new work is “a sound installation framed as a metal sculpture which assumes the characteristics of an instrument in interaction with the public. The sound is activated by the lifting and the lowering of iron rods of different sizes, inside the cube and outside of it, and that sound modulates as the shape of the object changes. The audience interacts with the work, thereby activating certain sound and creating a number of sound images.”
The installation Keep Calm and Fridget On will be realized in technical collaboration with Miodrag Gladović, in charge of the software and Vedran Relja, in charge of the construction of the installation.
Ana Horvat and Iva Ćurić have now been collaborating for over ten years on numerous artistic projects, but also on teaching projects with students and colleagues from the Academy of Arts and Culture in Osijek and the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb.
Iva Ćurić (Zagreb, 1984) graduated in Graphic Arts from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb, Pedagogical Drawing Department, in the class of prof. Ines Krasić. She also studied intaglio printing at the Academy of Fine Arts in Ljubljana, in the class of prof. Lojzo Logar. She is an active member of the artistic scene in the field of expanded graphics. She generally conducts her artistic researches in collaboration with the part of scientific-technical area that is based on exploring perception, the relationship between visible and invisible, connecting technology, science and art. Iva Ćurić works as an assistant at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb.
Ana Horvat (Našice, 1985) is a composer whose work includes acoustic and electro-acoustic compositions, music for sound installations, film, dance performances, opera and performances, and she is (co)author of several art installations and multimedia works. She is particularly interested in merging together different areas of art and has been regularly participating in collectives and working with other artists, robotics developers, multimedia artists, computer experts as well as DIY (do-it-yourself) and DIWO (do-it-with-others) enthusiasts. Ana Horvat graduated in electronic composition from the Academy of Music in Zagreb (Zlatko Tanodi) and she also studied composition with Marko Ruždjak and Srđan Dedić. She is a member of the audiocollective MMessy Oscillators, whose work is based on the research of sound, making DIY electronic instruments and live performances of electronic music. She is a member of the Zagreb Makerspace Radiona which aims to link various fields of art, science and technology. Along with her artistic work, she also works as an assistant professor at the Academy of Arts and Culture in Osijek.
Applauses Set Free
Višeslav Laboš is the author of the A-plausible installation, which he describes here:
“In the Western civilization, applause1 is an important form of compliment for the quality of musical performance or any other public performance. Still, it is impossible to evaluate its value, its intensity, and its true level of appreciation. What remains is the individual assumption, a feeling as to whether it is plausible2 or not.
In the installation A-plausible, the applause is set free from the performance, its existential meaning, and it becomes an independent sound phenomenon; the chaotic sum of sincere individual euphoria and superficialities that follow the standardised code of behaviour. It becomes a feast of polyrhythm, a musician without the audience, or, maybe, its own audience.
From that point of view, the plausibility (credibility and authenticity) of its testimony of the performance quality that motivated it before becomes irrelevant, just like the quality of the performance which it abandoned and became one itself.
Višeslav Laboš (Zagreb, 1978) graduated in sound design (MA, Academy of Dramatic Arts, Zagreb), and journalism (FPZ, Zagreb). Since the mid-90s, he has been performing as a DJ, a live act, or an instrumentalist. He is the author of music, or the sound design, for theatre productions, performances, installations, TV jingle and credits and around 40 short films. He was one of the founders of the first DJ workshops in Zagreb, as part of Egoboo.bits and Močvara Lab, and the co-organiser of the first copyleft music festival in the world, Freeedom to Creativity, in 2005. He has worked on around 30 music albums as a composer, performer, producer, sound engineer, mastering engineer and / or music editor. Laboš is the author of the In Search of A New Sound compilation. At the 31st MBZ he is also a sound engineer, working on a new version of the Semi-mono-opera by Silvio Foretić, as well as the curator of the Croatian Electronic Music listening room at the Croatian National Theatre on September 18th.
1 applaudere (Latin), to clap
2 plausibilis (Latin), deserving of praise, convincing, acceptable, credible