7 – 30 November 2018
Video projections every 20 minutes
WED, 7 November 2018 at 7 pm
Aksioma | Project Space, Ljubljana
Part of U30+ production programme for supporting young artists.
In his 1992 book The End of History and the Last Man, philosopher Yoshihiro Francis Fukuyama claims that the final stage of humanity will be the result of the height of liberal democracy and capitalism as well as the role of new technologies capable of transforming human essence. We can surely agree with him when we look from a critical distance at our everyday communication as it takes place on social media platforms. Online, the medium of conversation and dialogue, with its long tradition in western culture – from philosophy to theatre and cinema – has been reshaped beyond recognition. What is typical of the communication on platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are short sentences, typos, abbreviations, interjections and widespread use of visual elements, such as emojis and GIFs, which are used to enhance the verbal content of the message. Furthermore, these conversations are often asynchronous and take place at the same time as other conversations online and offline. Thus they have to take into account our short attention span and open up a whole new range of possibilities for misunderstandings and equivocations.
We know all of this but are so used to it that it is not easy for us to reach the critical distance required to actually see how the medium of conversation has changed. An effective way may be turning these chats, such as they are, into a script, and asking actors to perform them as if they are a regular conversation.
That is what the project Seen by young Slovenian artist Vid Merlak is all about. He has created a video in which he invited actors to perform selected sections from his personal conversations with his partner and friends. The focus of the work is the “divided temporality” that is typical of online communication. Online conversations have acquired a unique form due to the difference in the time of transmission and the reception of the message. The medium itself is also changing the content of a conversation, from the most basic to absurd levels. Interestingly, the rules of the “chat” are the ones that have determined the narrative and the iconography for the work. The visual language of the video uses all the elements that we can observe in online communications, such as long pauses during conversations, the disappearance of people during “chats”, but also the inevitable fracturing of the linearity of communication, which occurs when two people are writing at the same time, but the replies are arriving with a delay.This project is a part of the U30+ initiative to support young Slovenian artists, a production programme that Aksioma has been systematically working on since 2013.
Vid Merlak is an undergraduate student at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design of the University of Ljubljana, studying Video and New Media art. He has shown his work at term exhibitions at the Academy, the exhibitions for the Video and New Media students at the University of Ljubljana, the exhibition for the 70th anniversary of the Academy, ALUO LXX, and a solo exhibition in the bar BiKoFe. He has also participated in several artistic projects, such as the performance by Marina Rosenfeld: Teenage Lontano in Kino Šiška, Ljubljana; the filming and montage of the video work about the issue of immigration with Luka Prinčič and the collective Image Snatchers; and has worked as a VJ and DJ in the audio-visual collective SNIF.
Script and direction: Vid Merlak
Actors: Vid Merlak – Damir, Alenka Marinič – Tjaša, Gal Oblak – Nik / Ian, Jure Rajšp – Simeon / Timotej
Camera, lights, sound: Vida Habjanič
Editing: Vid Merlak
Original music: Simeon Perich
Audio post production: 100
Scenography: Marko Batista
Makeup artist: Zala Deželak
Technician: Valter Udovičić
Production manager: Janez Janša
Producer: Marcela Okretič
Executive Producer: Sonja Grdina
Thanks: Dan Adlešič, Rajko Bizjak, Tristan Dragan, Miha Fras, Anže Grabeljšek, Simon Lee, Peter Rauch, Eve Sussman
Special thanks: Tjaša, Nik, Ian, Simeon, Timotej
Aksioma – Institute for Contemporary Art, Ljubljana, 2018
Academy of Fine Arts and Design, University of Ljubljana
Mentors: Sašo Sedlaček (University of Ljubljana, Academy of Fine Arts and Design) and Janez Janša (Aksioma)
Supported by: the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia and the Municipality of Ljubljana
Aksioma’s programme is additionally supported by the Ministry of Public Administration as part of the public call for co-financing projects for the development and professionalisation of NGOs and volunteerism.