Curator's Text for CYBERFEST 2013

Attempt at a Variable Landscape

We fix time; time fixes us. There are people who had a digital timepiece implanted into their body. They claim that it helps fight the jet lag.

We change places of residence with a mind-boggling speed. There are people who live on a plane. Business on four continents; lodging in three climate zones; day-to-day discourse in five languages.

The traditional “ground under one’s feet” has definitively turned into a figure of speech. An answer to the question “Where do you live?” usually starts with the word “Currently…” – by tomorrow or a year from now, the answer will no longer be the same.

The traditional “unity of time and space” paradoxically got revived on the internet: in there, we live all together, simultaneously and at once. Time is now; place is nowhere.

In traditional societies, time was a variable value; place – an invariable. The time cyclic (daynight, winter-summer, youth-old age with the reprise in a next generation) was struggling with the time apocalyptic – from the Creation of the Last Judgment.

Generations would come and go much faster than the habitat would change. Ideally, it would not change at all because it took catastrophes to change a landscape, be they natural or humanitarian, like a volcano eruption or a transmigration of peoples. Nobody rejoiced at those changes, much like nobody rejoices at catastrophic changes in one’s own body.

With the advent of modernism, Einstein’s space-time continuum loomed somewhere on the fringe of consciousness as a reminder that not everything is as it seems. That’s, in fact, how it was – the age of modernism can safely be judged to have been a catastrophe – both natural and humanitarian. Industrialization, urbanization, a revolution, a world war and yet another one, reconstruction with no end – they burned the ground from under one’s feet and turned everybody into a nomad, whether they wanted this or not. People who started living under certain conditions ended up under totally different ones.

Then everything was triumphantly busted by Microsoft and Macintosh.

So what is around us – here and now? Houses, trees, statues, places of worship and graves are still standing, still visible, still occupying a certain place in our life – or, rather, in our memory by now. Because, nowadays, the home is smart, the landscape is cultural, and the space is informational.

Where do we live? The city walls are no longer stones unturned, a stronghold and a sanctuary. Nor are they the dream of the futurists – the transparent luminous glass that reflects the whole world. This is a screen upon which they would project whatever you like. God, devil, your grandmamma, dying children in Africa or polar bears in the Arctic region. If you like to swap them around – your grandmamma in Africa, happy children at the North Pole or penguins in paradise.

When do we live? Time is turned on with a click of the mouse and resolves into segments of the desirable length and speed of scrolling.

The exhibition TIME & PLACE is about life among flickering pictures. What’s to be done by an artist who knows their worth?

To make new pictures. By his will alone, to trace his own coordinates in the electronic chaos that does not contain anything real anymore, and only two things still fill the soul with awe: the starry heavens above and the moral universe within.

Marina Koldobskaya

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