Joule Thieves

Meta Grgurevič
Meta Grgurevič
Joule Thieves

21 June–14 July 2023
Aksioma | Project Space, Ljubljana

In her latest project Joule Thieves, artist Meta Grgurevič combines her interest in the fundamental principles of mechanical systems with years of research into energy production. The installation experiments with basic physical phenomena that can be used to create one of the core units of contemporary society and its products – information. Natural phenomena such as light, time, force and electricity are entangled into a mechanism that functions as a poetic production chain of human and non-human agents.

As part of the project, the artist has developed a completely analogue optical device powered by mice running on a wheel. The mechanism used in the installation takes as its starting point the workings of Théâtre Optique, the predecessor of the cinema projector, and combines the technologies of clockwork and zoetropes with a specially developed unit for generating and storing electricity. The construction, with its completely transparent and cumbersome mechanism for generating projections, lays bare the material (and energy-consuming) basis of electronic media. It ironises the typical connection between input and output, work and effect, extraction and consumption, and departs from the idea of autonomous systems operating in an infinite closed loop. Even when mice that power the mechanism toil for hours, they create little energy, yet the construction nevertheless creates a surplus of voltage by using a joule thief circuit, but this ultimately allows for only a brief projection. 

The project thus speculatively reflects on how energy could be produced, stored and used (differently) and creates a microenvironment that transforms the production loop into a system where man, nature and technology are directly interconnected.


Domen Pal / Aksioma

Meta Grgurevič (1979) lives and works in Ljubljana. In 2007, she completed her postgraduate studies in painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice. In her practice, she explores the relationships between science, metaphysics and the effects of magic, developing kinetic objects and multidimensional scenes as fully functioning mechanisms that act as metaphors for utopian systems of exchange. Her work has been exhibited in numerous group and solo exhibitions in Slovenia and abroad. Among others, she has presented the solo exhibition Scratching for Gold (Cukrarna, Ljubljana, 2022), the major survey exhibition Impossible Mechanisms (UGM, Maribor, and Künstlerhaus, Graz, 2020) and received the Audience Award at the 31st Ljubljana Biennale of Graphic Arts for her project Timekeepers (Ljubljana, 2015).


Author: Meta Grgurevič
Construction assistance: France Petač
Technical assistance: Gregor Krpič
Scientific collaborator: Dr Neža Grgurevič, DVM
Joinery: Andrej Zavodnik

Production: Aksioma – Institute for Contemporary Art, Ljubljana, 2023

Production assistant and text: Maja Burja

Supported by: the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia and the Municipality of Ljubljana

Acknowledgements: Thanks to JAŠA for artistic review and Stas Vrenko for advice on technical design.

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