by Jelena Vojvodic
The Nemanja Lađić exhibition Extended Landscape tries to place us in a space, environment or milieu with no divisions between the real and digital, online and offline, natural and artificial, city(culture) and nature, local and global. The textures we see in the three video installations are destabilized landscapes, regions of intensity, blocks of becoming, which come to us by merging of the natural and artificial. These are programmed and projected landscapes, composites made up of documentary photographs and videos and digital elements (hardware, software and algorithmic). The narrative is completely reduced so that the focus can be placed on the problematic of the environment – in terms of form (video installations and large projection dimensions), of content (scenes of the flow of urban everyday life) and finally, of problematizing the logic of production of these landscapes.
Lađić provides us with a system-dynamic, cybernetic view of a space that equally includes human elements and elements of technological infrastructure, indicating constant exchange and translations between heterogeneous elements and spaces, information flux and affects that organize a single communicational aggregate “humans-machines”. His works point to spatial and social confusion within this glocal space, as well as to the paradox of simultaneous hypervisibility and invisibility – the state in which we are exposed to the mechanical “view” or more precisely – to “listening” by sensors and machines; while, on the other hand, the technological and financial processes of global capital, templates and algorithms that connect us and shape our environment are less and less transparent, even inaccessible to human understanding.
Traditional space research in Nemanja Lađić’s work has been expanded by the introduction of the problematic of the intensive space and its territoriality, which gets its consistency due to instantaneous and global communication, with the help of internet-connected telematic (computer-telecommunication) infrastructure and its central, peripheral and relay elements. In addition to the geometric, visible and measurable space that we associate with Euclidean geometry and the “analogue language”, which Deleuze and Guattari call the “striated“ space, Lađić introduces the problematic of the “smooth” – mathematical or acoustic space, associated with arithmetic and fractal geometry, intensive topology and non-pulsed time. The smooth space is unlimited, undivided and open; it is a vectorial space in which the digital code language operates with its internalized tensions, making that space, and distribution in it, inaccessible to the human eye. In Deleuze and Guattari, these two spaces are connected with the help of the “holey” space, that is, the metallic (telematic) line that represents “an affect of the smooth space”. The interplay and intercommunication of these spaces are the reason why Lađić, at this exhibition, treats the urban landscape, the space of the polis and the political as an open systemic architecture that opens up to the air and cosmic space, and through a “metallic” telematic line links to the global media space. It is the “holey” space, in whose production we all participate by using Internet technologies and portable smartphones, that allows the constant live stream broadcasting – making matter, affects and human forces translate into data and become raw material for placing in remote databases, statistical and algorithmic processing.
The attempt to indicate these mechanisms and procedures, hidden computer and abstract logical layers is reflected in Lađić’s reduction of the narrative to enable contemplation of the environment and tracking the logic of its transformations. In the foreground of the work Pop-up are transformations of the physical scenography of a striated, state-political and (Belgrade) city space, while in the continuation of the exhibition, the works Spieluhr and Squares problematize the flows of information in real time, the work of algorithms, and accumulated digital data manipulation. In the work Spieluhr, this process is indicated by translating of the data from a striated space, shown as a visual template of the city from which, through a sensor, only events are recorded in the form of light changes in a static landscape, and then, through an algorithm, translated into a sound and acoustic space. Information on events thus becomes digital and communicative, and finally, with a lot of descriptive information (metadata) ends up accumulated in a digital archive. In the work Squares, the database problematic is gaining importance because the accumulated data now become the subject of a new technologically-enabled “view” that talks about new possibilities of machine manipulation and “reading” of blocks of data within the logic of an intense space. Lađić “reads” the recorded digital video blocks using an algorithm from the perspective of the temporal rather than spatial axis, and thus follows only changes of the movable elements in the image. The blocks that he reads using an algorithm are inserted into standard sequences captured by a camera and morphed together into a unique environment. Thus, in the work Squares, Lađić shows us an environment that is constantly transforming and remaining at the boundary of (aesthetic) “naturalness” of the appearance of a city square, while the cohesion of the visual representation is achieved by sound, that is, a smooth space.
Finally, it can be concluded that, although Lađić’s practice implies work with video installations, the research itself remains essentially related to his original commitment to sculpture and research into the problematic of space and materiality. At this exhibition, Lađić makes this problematic more complex and widens it; he does not treat space (only) as a space of architecture, but also introduces the issues of its configuration and structuration, thus bringing in the problems of territoriality and the process logic of telematic infrastructures and digital archives. So, to the political Extensio, as a spatial-temporal framework of the state and, in general, the striated political space, he adds the intensive Spatium of global capital; along with the visual space, the space of tactile (haptic) and sonorous (sound) qualities.
translated by Vesna Strika