Laterna magica
BOGDAN LEŠNIK Ambi(val)ents of Marko Kovačič
BOGDAN LEŠNIK Visions of Ordinary Life
JURIJ V. KRPAN The Lost Horizon
RASTKO MOČNIK The Loving Sights


JURIJ V. KRPAN The Lost Horizon

Which horizon are we referring to and how is it lost? Granted: anybody can lose something, either by carelessness or by accident. Just as we lose the keys to our apartment, which have become an item of our personal inventory to the point that they are a compulsory, yet an anonymous addition which fail to provoke any emotions in themselves. Irrelevant of whether the keys have a beautiful key chain, the keys are a functional and technical vulgar addition that loll in our pockets. They can be forgotten or overlooked with each time they are set aside after use. Actually, it's rather interesting how an element of such key importance in our everyday life, imperative for identification, occasionally even a symbolic attribute, can be suppressed, obscured and reduced to a minute metal undesirable item. This is the type of loss that I am referring to. To forget something so close and 'right in front of our eyes' that it cannot be seen anymore and so it is easily overlooked and forgotten. The circumstances that are reinstated at that moment always implicate a view – retrogressive reminiscence of the past.

We can also lose something towards which we are heading; something which we knew was there, yet upon our arrival we determine that what we were searching for is missing. Where did that something that we knew we were searching for disappear to? Did we really come to where we thought it was? Did we possibly go astray? Did we miss, or obscure the object of our desire, or the location where we thought the object was? If the object of our desire betrays our expectations and fails to be where we think it is, we can still feign the possibility that we lost or forgot it somewhere along the way, or that it is lying somewhere along the way and that we, ourselves, went astray. Something lost is never on account of the object itself. The object is always somewhere, only that it is lost - suppressed. When something is lost, the desire, which is compelled either to search for what is lost or to reconstruct a new object that has yet to become it's justification, doubles. Anticipation is almost a physiological need, although the lost object calls from the past as if it were etched in our consciousness.

What of the horizon? Here we are in the field of the visual, or actually at its edge. The horizon is the 360 degree demarcation line between the visible and what is anticipated beyond the visible. The visible (scopic) is here, while the imaginary is beyond. Although the simple differentiation that the scopic, which due to its indirectness embraces the observing-perceiving subject now, and that the imaginary beyond the horizon occurs only when we arrive at the horizon that is, later, is not valid. No, the scopic and the imaginary fields are both here and now; they are two levels of images that fill the perceiving subject simultaneously and sometimes even interfere, overlap and cause an image, an unexpected apparition in the direction that we are looking, to paste itself over our eyes. The multi-levelled field of the visible often deceives the eye, renders it unreliable and reduces it to the mere existence of an organ, an instrument for perceiving.

Let us apply video and new media as an example. Practically everything is possible from the point of view of visualisation. The image is generated and mediated. Optics, that is the system of lenses, encompasses the reflection of light, while electronics reduces the visual material into an electronic mass that can then be transferred, layered and remodelled. Images, whose elementary probability is attained by the media - the screen, and whose perception is secured by film or video editing, are created on the screen before the viewer.

The installation set up by Kovačič in the Kapelica Gallery interchanges the above mentioned intimations: a) the constituent loss of an object which b) fascinates the artistic beauty of the scopic field and it's c) syntax. This installation cannot be clarified with a single word, it can only be discussed. Despite its unobtainable character, attributes of its images - apparitions - can be ascribed as they are being assembled while the installation is being viewed, and their significance, identity and structure can nonetheless be determined. Significance can thus be conceived as a question of the constituent loss of the subject, identity as a question of fine arts and structure as a matter of the syntax of assemblage.

a) It seems that the industrial complexes are a metaphor for the Russian ideology of constructivism and an allegory for artistic constructions from which all the decorative rubbish has deteriorated and delineated the artistic age of the avant-garde, which postulated a new individual for the aesthetics that it produced. This imaginary new subject who ruled over our imagination at the time, is today substituted by the promised object for which we strive in our everyday aspirations for a better tomorrow. The mechanics of a consumer society, in which aesthetics is responsible for creativity - the production of objects that are to dictate the structure of our desires, are today set up against a totalitarian phantasm where an individual, spared the corporeal passions of profit, stands in the horizon. Loss, which is ascribed to our phantasmal world at the level of systems, does not represent the defeat of the malediction of socialistic dogmatism on account of idealistic democracy, but rather a radical loss – an obliteration merely of insignias and ideological matrices which cannot be mentioned, even in jest, as exorcist rituals and corporeal categorisations would be triggered immediately. If a compromising image (such as a red star) were to paste itself upon our eyes while surrounded by acquaintances, we would be expected to play off a blasé pretence, as if we hadn't noticed, and thus prevent anxiety and discomfort to sneak up on our companions, as we can never really be sure of how one of society's individuals is labelled. The emotions of zealots happen to replace the bitter cognition that nothing more fundamental than a change in the ideological inventory occurred throughout the entire historical upset. A czar is still a czar, a sheep is still a sheep.

b) The imagery material, entirely projected with the aid of a video and slide projectors, is predominantly composed of an iconography of complex industrial landscapes in which the domineering features of water towers, cranes, enormous power presses etc., are alternated and interwoven with the overwhelming mesh of a steel baton, the fundamental construction element in factory buildings, adapted to the dimensions of heavy mechanics. Control towers are thrusted atop the piles of raw materials or atop the deposited waste materials which form an artificially hilly landscape and are generally black or dark colours. The projected images of heavy metal industry are structured with heraldic accents of the governing ideology, which subscribed authorship to the projects of the period for which it believed manifested its heroic integrity. The colour red, stars, hammers and sickles all fuse as a totalitarian scale of industrial production that was not directed towards the individuum of a consumer society, but rather towards a baroque presentation on the subject of the great deeds that the system already materialised with it's improvident gesture. Behind this improvident world lurk the beliefs of futuristic phantasms of constructivists who reflected the dramatic changes in the world through the aesthetics of constructions and machinery.

c) The imagery mass is mediated such that it cannot be embraced with a glance. The revolving panels reflecting the projected images deform the images and create an impression of dynamic perspectives which devise the illusion of three-dimensional spaces. The viewer thus has to enter the space of the mass of imagery which embraces the viewer entirely – the viewer is wholly inside (… 'the view within the scopic field is outside, they are watching me, that is, I am the image'. Lacan, J. 1981. The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psycho-analysis, ed. Jacques-Alain Miller, Norton.). The revolving panels, which constantly change the space of movement, additionally compel the viewer into movement. The scopic field establishes a physical connection with the viewer, who is imminently aware of it (aware that he/she is in the image), even when his/her back is turned. The illusion of spaciousness and the actual operation of the machines is all the more convincing as the imagery mass presents the intertwining-assembling (in the sense of film editing) of inactivity and video shots on the walls of the gallery and inactivity and video shots on the revolving panels. The dynamics of the deformation of images on the revolving panels, the dynamics of operating videos and the dynamics in the real space of the revolving panels produce a dangerous fusion of images that are strongly reminiscent of the random pulse of images that invade the imaginary space from the subconscious. 'The unconscious is structured like a language' and the present installation is a distinct speech.

(from the catalogue of the exhibition The Lost Horizon, Kapelica Gallery, Ljubljana, 1998)

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