DIGITAL vs ANALOG: Landscape Painting in Contemporary Culture

Saša Janjić and Katarina Mitrović

When at the beginning of the 21st century Paul Virilio wrote about the acceleration of informatics and the influence of information technology and the digital environment on modern man, in spite of his convincing words and the evidence he presented, few could imagine what lay in store for us in the immediate future. The amount of data we process on a daily basis today surpasses the total amount of data that circulated on the Internet in the mid-90s of the 20th century. In spite of the incredible advance and domination of the digital world which is becoming more important with every day, there is a growing need to look at things from a completely different angle. This is exactly what the artist couple diSTRUKTURA is doing.

diSTRUKTURA’s artistic opus explores, among other, the phenomenon of the role and place of nature and contemporary landscape in the contemporary digital world as well as man’s relations in such a world. The process of creating a painting consists first of photographing an image which is then digitally manipulated and made unrecognizable as it turns into a rather abstract scheme of minuscule squares and lines in which the initial image is just perceptible. The aim of deconstructing the image into pixels and with Photoshop effects is to raise, once again, some important questions and to draw our attention to the importance of nature and the landscape in our daily lives, in art history and contemporary art practice. The artistic opus and the image as its most important element are composed of a well-thought-out combination and relations between the digital and analog. In this division the classic painting, that is oil on canvas, represents the analog world and the photograph the digital world.

At some point the earlier division between the analog and the digital becomes obsolete since the entire world has turned into an overwhelming combination of 1s and 0s. In this and such a world minor derailments into the analog occur only in border territories such as art and similar disciplines. Only they, through their actions and conceptual apparatus, have the ability to cross over the gap that has appeared in the last 10 to 15 years.

The struggle between the analog and the digital is significant only in the imaginary context of the art world. At a time when even the simplest everyday object has been digitialised, art offers a concept that is an interpretation of the reaction to the world of digital culture and the dominant digital environment. Here the analog is a matter of the past, something that is created manually, that is a result of patience, skill, that is created slowly over a longer period of time. It carries with it a message and awareness of the world and nature that do not change with a simple touch on the screen or click of the mouse but through complex processes which give form to our environment.

Throughout art history the space of aestheticized nature always coincided with an authentic habitat and the idea of fertile and tame nature, of place, of heaven on earth always formed the basis of its use and symbolic meaning. In the past, as well as today, the idea of the landscape does not view nature indifferently, as what it essentially is. Instead, nature is seen as a cultural construct, as a result of man’s transformation of nature. Every landscape functions as a forceful ideological concept whose history tells of the manner in which concrete political and social structures presented themselves and their world and, like other such constructs, often covered up violence committed against cultures that preceeded them.

diSTRUKTURA create their paintings by intervening digitally on photographs they took which are then painted on canvas using classical techniques in the manner of old masters. In the age of overall digitalisation the landscape, a foundation stone of classical painting, is subjected to the process of defragmentation following the new concept of the image. Through this process the artists revisit the very foundations of this medium, its potential to represent images of nature and the nature of the image itself. This process is significant not only as a mere exercise or as another phenomenon to be explored, but also as a building block of their artistic credo.

Nature as a place of well-being and source of wealth has re-emerged, is the great unknown and foreign element in the digital world. The artificially created image of nature, that is of the landscape as its most representative image, is created and conceived in a way to satisfy all the needs of the average consumer. It is likeable, tame and, above all, “beautiful”. What it definitely is not, and cannot be, is to act as the bearer of meanings that constitute the image itself and raise it above all other visual representations.

The view diSTRUKTURA’s works offers on this kind of world that surrounds us and art as its component part brings with it a reversible view which leaves a first, certainly false, impression of anachronism. Actually, Milica Milićević and Milan Bosnić, the artistic couple diSTRUKTURA, actively live and think the contemporary. They have constructed their art around it gradually and through their art they observe, transform and comment the visual matrix of the media society and screen culture we live in.

* Saša Janjić is an art historian and chief curator at the Remont Gallery.
Katarina Mitrović is an art historian and the senior curator at the Historical Museum of Serbia.

DIGITALNO vs ANALOGNO: slika pejzaža u savremnoj kulturi
Saša Janjić i Katarina Mitrović

Kada je Paul Virilio početkom XXI veka pisao o informatičkom ubrzanju i uticaju koji informacione tehnologije i digitalno okruženje donose modernom čoveku, malo ko je i pored ubedljivih reči i dokaza koje je izneo mogao da nasluti šta nas sve čeka u neposrednoj budućnosti. Količina podataka kojom danas svakodnevno baratamo prevazilazi ukupnu količinu podataka koja je kružila internetom sredinom 90-ih godina XX veka. I pored neverovatnog napretka i dominacije digitalnog sveta koji svakog dana biva sve veći, javlja se potreba za sagledavanjem stvari iz jednog sasvim drugog ugla. Umetnički par diSTRUKTURA upravo to i čini.

Umetnički opus diSTRUKTURE između ostalog istražuje i fenomen uloge i mesta prirode i savremenog pejzaža u digitalnom savremenom svetu, ali i odnosima čoveka u tom svetu. Postupak nastanka slike uključuje prvo fotografisanje, a onda digitalnu manipulaciju kojom slika postaje neprepoznatljiva i pretvorena u gotovo apstraktnu shemu kvadratića i linija u okviru koje se prvobitan prizor samo nazire. Njihovo razlaganje slike na piksele i Photoshop efekte ima za cilj da nanovo postavi neka važna pitanja i skrene pažnju na značaj prirode i pejzaža kako u svakodnevnom životu tako i u istoriji umetnosti i savremenoj umetničkoj praksi. Umetnički opus i slika kao njen najvažniji deo sastavljena je od promišljene kombinacije i odnosa digitalnog i analognog. Klasična slika odnosno ulje na platnu je u toj podeli predstavnik analognog sveta, dok je fotografija nosilac digitalnog sveta.

Stara podela na analogno i digitalno u jednom trenutku se činila izlišnom jer je ceo svet postao jedna velika kombinacija 1 i 0. U tom i takvom svetu mala iskliznuća u analogno dešavaju se samo na rubnim teritorijama kava je umetnost i njoj sličnim oblastima. Jedino one imaju tu mogućnost da svojim delovanjem i pojmovnim aparatom koji koriste premoste jaz koji je nastao u poslednjih 10-15 godina.

Bitka analgnog i digitalnog ima smisla samo u jednom imaginarnom kontekstu kakav je svet umetnosti. U situaciji kada je i najobičnija svakodnevna stvar postala digitalna, umetnost nudi jedan koncept, rezultat prevođenja koji je nastao kao reakcija na svet digitalne kulture i dominantnog digitalnog okruženja. Analogno je u toj i takvoj podeli stvar prošlosti, nešto što nastaje manuelno, što je rezultat strpljenja, veštine, što nastaje polako tokom dužeg vremenskog perioda. Ono u sebi nosi poruku i svest o svetu i prirodi koja se ne menja prostim dodirom na ekran ili klikom miša, već složenim procesima koji oblikuju naše okruženje.

Kroz istoriju umetnosti prostor estetizovane prirode se uvek preklapao sa autentičnim staništem i u osnovi njegove upotrebe i simboličkog značenja uvek je stajala ideja o plodnoj i pitomoj prirodi, mestu, zemaljskog raja. Ideja pejzaža tada ali i danas, međutim, ne podrazumeva bezinteresni pogled na prirodu kakva ona u suštini jeste. Umesto toga, ona podrazumeva shvatanje koji je kulturno konstruisana posledica čovekove transformacije prirode. Svaki pejzaž funkcioniše kao snažan ideološki koncept, čija istorija otkriva načine na koje su određene političke i društvene strukture predstavljale sebe i svoj svet, i poput drugih takvih konstrukcija, često prikrivale nasilje nad kulturama koje su im prethodile.

Slike koje diSTRUKTURA stvara nastaju kao rezultat digitalne intervencije na prethodno usnimljenim fotografijima koja je potom u maniru starih majstora klasičnim tehnikama oslikavaju na platnu. Pejzaž kao jedan od kamena temeljaca klasičnog slikarstva u dobu sveopšte digitalizacije podvrgava se procesu defragmentacije u skladu sa novom koncepcijom slike u kojoj umetnici preispituju samu osnovu ovog medija i njegove mogućnosti predstavljanja slike prirode, ali i prirode same slike. Ovaj proces je značajan ne samo kao puka vežba ili još jedan od fenomena koji se istražuje, već i kao gradivni element njihovog umetničkog kreda.

Priroda kao mesto blagostanja i izvor bogatstva postala je recidiv, velika nepoznanica i strano telo u digitalnom svetu. Veštački stvorena slika prirode odnosno pejzaža kao njena najreprezentativnija slika, kreira se i koncipira tako da zadovolji sve potrebe prosečnog konzumenta. Ona je dopadljiva, pitoma i nadasve „lepa“. Ono što ona svakako nije i ono što nikako ne može da postane je nosilac značenja koja samu sliku konstituišu i uzdižu iznad svake druge vizuelne predstave.

Pogled na takav svet koji nas okružuje i umetnost kao njen sastavni deo koji nam pružaju radovi diSTRUKTURE donosi jedan reverzibilan pogled koji ostavlja prvi, svakako lažni, utisak anahronizma. Zapravo, Milica Milićević i Milan Bosnić, umetnički par diSTRUKTURA, aktivno žive i misle savremenost. Oko nje su postepeno izgradili svoju umetnost, kroz koju promatraju, transformišu i komentarišu vizuelnu matricu medijskog društva i ekranske kulutre u kojoj živimo.

* Saša Janjić je istoričar umetnosti i glavni kustos u Remont Galeriji.
Katarina Mitrović je istoričar umetnosti i viši kustos u Istorijskom muzeju Srbije.

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