by Antun Maračić, curator
In his photographic and video works created in the last few years, the young artist Goran Škofić (1979), exploiting multiplied images of his own likeness in various stylised and almost entirely caricatural situations, speaks primarily of his feeling about contemporary society. Through the images of his own body, as he states himself, he speaks about the “big body of society”. The reiterated likenesses of the artist are the actors in a story at once witty and tragic: this little man, always the same, with rapid and jerky movements, performs his visual gags, imitates objects as if on a conveyor belt, falls into a rank multiplied like robotic soldiers with persuasively ominous military sounds, shooting at its own also lined-up copy… a figure that does away with illusions about unique individualities. Škofić’s multitude is not a set of individuals; rather, a multitude of clones of themselves, indicating his self-critical implication that he cannot exempt himself from the system of anomalies of the contemporary world.
At this one-man exhibition in the Forum, Škofić exhibits works conceived in some relationship to the given gallery interior; he brings back the concrete setting into the scenography of these works, unlike those from earlier in which the spatial definitions were mostly cut out, a white background mainly figuring. But now there are devious relationships that present the figure between the material and the virtual, the real and illusory, between gravitation and weightlessness. At the same time, deploying his works in both a special box and merging the wall and floor of the gallery through the content, the author attentively thinks through the exhibition space itself, setting up a specific form of communication within its interior, including in some cases the contribution of the street space. With a not very large number of works, he fills up the space with the fluid of a static and moving video image, and also gives his endorsement to the gallery itself, which is turned into a place of complex meditativeness. Thanks to all this, the very title of the exhibition, Other Spaces, takes on its own convincing point.
On the ground floor of the gallery, in a specially built box, in total darkness, with a trailer of two emblematic large format photographs on the outer wall, a video projection of a work called Lake takes place. Climbing to the upper floor of the gallery, at the top of the stairs, partially at the foot of the opposite wall and partially in the reflection of the floor, we are met by the work Confrontation. And finally, on pedestals in the space of the first floor with the background of a wall of glass are three gallery pedestals serving as a screen for the static projection of three sequences (Constraint). And that is it. But in spite of the minimalistic set-up characteristic of this artist, the space of the gallery does not seem to be under-populated. On the contrary, the precision of the set-up, the correspondences of the works and the meditativeness of the contents turn the space into an integrated whole with a rich spectrum of sensations. The iconographic link among the three works is the figure of the artist himself who appears in differing forms: with lightning brevity and hardly recognisable in the first, with just a gigantic head in the second, and a multiplied full figure in the third work. This gradual appearance creates a certain gradation of contents, imparts rhythm to the exhibition which is also measured by a fitting development of the author’s theme of other spaces, which alternate numbers of times: firstly with a literal location at different points of the gallery and then, in each work in itself, by duplication or contrast of the meaning of the scene, the manner of projection or the character of the surreal image in which the idea of gravitation is abolished. It need not even be said that all the works have in common the abstract, virtual space of a digitally manipulated static or moving image that is opposed to or compared with the real. Or as the author himself says: “I am interested in the relationship, i.e. the place where real space is connected up with the parallel space (such as for example, virtual space, invisible space, metaphysical space and reflection of the space). I’m interested in their interaction, the combination of these dimensions”.
In the first work, Lake, we meet an idyllic Alpine landscape that seems unreal in its beauty and peace. In the foreground is the lake, bounded by greenery and mountains, and we can hear the appropriate sounds of small animals. But this absolute peace is suddenly brutally interrupted with the noisy fall of a human body into the water, as if it were a bomb. After the ferocious and turbulent disturbance of the initial image, the sounds are eliminated, until the troubled surface of the lake is gradually calmed, and the little sounds return. The human figure, however, that of the author himself, after his disruptive intrusion, does not emerge from the water, rather the original image is tacitly renewed, and the work repeats in its loop.
This approach allows the artist at once to speak out concisely and yet also directly about the global problem of the disrupted ecological equilibrium, resulting from human interventions into the natural setting, and at the same time to give expression to his subjective feeling about the world, that is, just as in his previous works, by the use of his own likeness, to bring out his own involvement in the time and space to which he belongs.
In the second work, Confrontation, Škofić once again uses his own likeness, this time just a head, the dimensions of which are enlarged many times (projected to be about 150 x 85 cm). But it is in fact the projection of just a half of the horizontally placed face along the line of contact between wall and floor, and the second half is faithfully reflected in the polished floor of the gallery, creating the illusion that there is a whole face or head. The frame is static, and the only movement that occurs is the opening and closing of the eyelids. When the eyes are closed, the previous silence is replaced with the dull sound of vibration (according to the artist – the illustrated frequency of the matter of the space) which ceases when they are opened again.
With his particular and original approach, adjusted to the technical capacities of the medium, and the clever use of the given features of the space, in this little sculptural essay about ambivalence, Škofić in an organic manner, avoiding both directness and easy emotionality problematises the shattering of the wholeness of contemporary man, with the repeated first person singular practice he once again emphasises that he is no exception from the overall social phenomenology.
In the work Constraint Škofić uses the standard gallery aids, pedestals, but in a very uncommon way. At the same time, entirely in the spirit of his own concise poetics, he economises on means of expression, commandeering equipment that is already there for the using, and paraphrases, indeed inverts, the usual manner in which it is employed. The pedestal is still the bearer of artistic contents, but instead of being a base for the physical artefact, the pedestal has become a screen for the temporary projected image. Bearing in mind the projected motif, the figure of the artist that, deprived of the force of gravity, floats above the floor seeking a resting point in the corners of the walls of the room, the role of the actual base too dissolves. The pedestal, notwithstanding the fact that it retains the framework of its own rectangularity, becomes an object of insecurity, its function as base is disputed, and to the mass of the cube, the projected image opposes the negative of a sterile and anonymous interior: the firmness of the block of the pedestal is decomposed by the incursion of the illusion of the spatiality of an anonymous and sterile interior.
What links these superficially fairly different works, apart from the constant presence of the more or less readable likeness of the artist himself is, as the title suggests, the relativisation of the firm supports that the everyday, like it not, we want to take for granted: the peace of the alpine idyll is disrupted by the falling of the human bomb; the completeness of the human face is an illusion, the reflection of one half; being exempted from the force of gravity is not the way to freedom but, on the contrary, confinement.
Škofić is an artist who equally carefully attends to making his work clean and polished and to the precision of the technical execution. Subtracting more than adding, reducing the matter to the minimum of elements, to the essence, he achieves a productive opposition: a layering of image and meaning. Although in form ludic and joking, his work is ultimately serious. Not only in the sense of the treatment of the content that he wishes to communicate, the seriousness of the theme that is mimicked by the communicative gag, but primarily, it seems, in the manner in which he uses the means he employs.
A child of the 21st century, like many of his peers, Škofić is familiar with the world of media and electronic toys. But in fact he employs the state of the art in technology and its seductive capacities rather seriously and also rationally. He is very aware that the capacities of digital photography, Photoshop, 3D design and so on can easily get the better of the incautious consumer. He endeavours to keep the measure, indeed, to have a critical distance in using them, as well as with respect to contemporaneity in general, with all of its derangements. Hence the irony in his work, which is not exhausted in the caricatural gesture, but refers also the medium used. Hence in Škofić’s work the frequent evocations of rudimentary forms of animation, simplified mime, of burlesque similar to that of the pre-talkie era. Among other things, Škofić tells us with his work that technology with its terrifyingly effective performances is not guarantee for getting the better of entrenched primitivism. It can in fact make it all the more malign.
For this reason, the apparently playful and carefree work of Škofić, which is engaged without being overemotional or moralistic, is an invaluable idiom in the context of the art scene at home and abroad.
New Manipulations in an Isolated Space - Front(a) in SC Gallery
by Branka Benčić, curator
At his solo exhibition in the SC Gallery, Goran Škofić, one of the most interesting video-artists of a younger generation, exhibits only one work; his new video-installation, as a continuation of his artistic explorations from the series of works at his last solo exhibition White. In this new project he uses some of the elements from the previous series of works and deals with them in a visual, conceptual and spatial sense. In a wider context, these elements are also a continuation of his explorations from earlier works, like the series of works Corpus. These include self-representation, positioning and multiplication of his own character, repetition, manipulation, absurd and a game. However, Fronta brings about somewhat different relations. This exhibition is more focused on the exhibition space and perception of the observer. In this work, my wish was to put a video work in a spatial context and thus play with the observer’s perception and contrast of spatial relations; big-small, Goran points out.
Ambience, spatial organization of the video projection, and especially its audio elements, are the key elements of the new work, in which the artist focuses on the intensity of the experience. The formative elements can be found in crossing the visual borders and frame of the artwork, the ones relating to the spatial disposition, as well as the more active incorporation of sound as an important formative element. More attention is devoted to sound in Fronta. Sound is not merely something that accompanies the projected images, but it has a more important role in forming an invisible sensory volume of the space of the work, audio-visual environment experienced as a unit.
White is the phase in my work that describes experimenting with a pure naked body (without the influence of the background), claims Goran Škofić. In this work as well, Škofić reaches for an already tested method of using his own character. By using black and white image and hybrid sound, we follow the images of army and soldiers, row, parade, images that flow continuously, passing through the frame, representing a mass of uniform bodies as a representation of power. Artist’s body is multiplied, dressed in a conventional dark suit of a serious yuppie, without some specific identity characteristics. The work shows an ordinary man who becomes a sort of corporation by multiplying, continues the author.
One character, then two, then the whole army marching as a river of multiplied characters, and their permutation, are the basic model that constitutes the action. Those series of repetitive monotonous actions with small transformations take place within a simple geometry of the frame. Action takes place on the white rectangular background. Camera is fixed above the protagonist, from bird’s eye view, from above, giving an overall view, in which the man, isolated from the environment, outside the context of reality, is represented as a graphic symbol on an idle background in a hybrid time. Signs of an objective world have been abolished in order to emphasize the repetitive action. Audio-visual record emphasizes this repetitiveness of individual movements and action in general. We use it to see the artificiality of the scene, its continuous character, as the image of the world devoid of coordinates of reality.
The Sisyphean Curse in the Desert of the Real
by Leila Topić, curator
Fitter, happier, more productive, comfortable, not drinking too much,
regular exercise at the gym, 3 days a week, getting on better with your associate employee contemporaries, at ease, eating well, no more microwave dinners and saturated fats, a patient better driver, a safer car, baby smiling in back seat, sleeping well, no bad dreams, no paranoia…
Radiohead, Fitter, happier
Around the middle of the past century a claim by Guy Debord was valid: all life is revealed as an incommensurable accumulation of spectacle. Everything that was directly happening was transposed into representation, claimed Debord in his book "Society of the Spectacle". However, today we live in the third stage of simulacrum, as argued by Baudrillard, the stage of complete simulation which replaces representation. Presently, thanks to media-mediated reality, the time needed to elapse from an actual event to its spectacular representation has disappeared. Truly, the spectacle is happening here and now, live, within our lives.
It seems as if impossibility of reaching life's immediacy deprived of everyday spectacle and numerous social imperatives is the central preoccupation of the most recent video installation by Goran Škofić, titled "Corpus". The author records how "a body is overstretched with a desire to break 'the world speed record', so it is increased tenfold in order to succeed. Recognizable speeds have become insufficient so the body has to break all the limits in order to achieve a desired goal." Therefore Škofić, with a noticeable dose of irony and subversive humorous elements, uses ten short video recordings to present the body which no more knows a stage of repose. The body, in this case the artist's (yet, Goran Škofić adds, "it could be yours as well") becomes an object of manipulation through using the video image and editing procedures. The body becomes accelerated, simultaneous and manifold in scenes that appear at ten video screens. Walking through the installation, a visitor passes through various situations the body is subjected to, asking: Which body is the real one? The answer is very simple. The real body has disappeared since it has became insufficient. Our culture turned schizophrenic in a manner of consumers' ecstasy. We enjoy imaginary visions and images of media-created collective fantasy in which the time has become the most sough-after commodity. The body cannot act by itself, for itself and therefore it becomes simulated – recorded, directed, edited and projected.
I believe the author, within the everyday spectacle of consumption, represents the body as superfluous, incomplete and unreliable. The real body is a looser. However, Škofić comes to the aid of his body with the electronic images. Pixels transform the body into a corpus – a non-identity entity, a junction of technology and absurd. Ultimately, technology has been created in order to annul a horrifying truth about body's insufficiency. J.G. Ballard has argued that science fiction "is a body's dream of becoming a machine". This dream became reality in numerous sci-fi films like Terminator, Robocop or Exterminator. All these machines i.e. androids are perfectly precise and lethal, their bodies are "sufficient", yet they possess an autonomy of will and an identity, the dreams of their own. Škofić, on the other hand, presents corpus/es – the prisoners of Baudrillard's media hall of mirrors in which reality is devoured by the infinite number of reflections.
Therefore Škofić's body turns into Corpus that becomes sufficient only when multiplied and simultaneous. Only in this way the corpus can reach its goal, only by "realizing" there is no goal. All the manners of interpreting a meaningful goal have gone to hell long ago. The meaning has disappeared in the chasms of incessant production and consumption. It is why Goran Škofić provides none of his "Corpuses" with a meaningful ending; a football fan is sentenced to an eternal football match, a theatre encore demands an endless applause, a runner is constantly competing himself, shooting out a penalty goes on forever.... Corpus/es are electronic reproductions, irretrievably lost to their own original or meaning, and long ago defeated in a battle for credibility. Moreover, a multiplied corpus that was recorded in a theatre, along with its uniformity and calmness of facial mimics, irresistibly recalls Agent Smith, the antagonist of cult movie Matrix. Therefore it seems to me as if the artist, like Morpehus, a character from the mentioned movie, sends a following message: "Welcome to the desert of the real". He also asks how many phantom corpuses will suffice.
Of course, a meaningful complex, a utopian solution, is not impossible. Though I notice how the agony of the corpus does not find its abolition in a final performance of the action assigned. Namely, a video recording – just as the corpus' situations – does not have beginning nor the end – a loop has prevented the covering of Baudrillard's mirrors and abolished a potential meaning. The corpus, same as the body, is sentenced to the eternal repetition of the same, the Sisyphean curse in the desert of the real.
Hybrid Video Images and Audio-visual Mutations - Stylizing the everyday anxieties
by Branka Benčić, curator
Hybrid video images (possibilities of digital technology) / Hybrid video art by Goran Škofić indicates the consequences of technological development and those aspects of working with (moving) images that make it possible to manipulate, alter, and restructure them. In the historical context, the relationship between art, technology, and identity has not been investigated in any other medium with such consistency and continuity as it has been the case with video art. In his new series, Goran Škofić has discussed the topic that has practically become a constant element in the young artist’s opus – questioning the self-referential strategies in which the basic (and only) motif is the artist’s own body, that is, his own figure. He investigates the technological possibility of digitally manipulating the image, while his special interest rests with the social aspects and absurdities of everyday life.
Škofić’s video vignettes are structured like loops, combining the techniques of digital animation, montage, and collage, shot by using optical technological devices. They may be considered composite images, a term that denotes pictures formed from various elements obtained through digital technology (digital photography, graphics editing programmes, 3D design, stop-frame, motion capture). In achieving unusual elements in synthetic images, the artist emphasizes the possibilities of manipulating the figurative realism of photography in order to express tangible reality, which remains the essential necessity. Once the body or an object are entered into the computer, it is possible and simple to produce the most unusual angles and most unexpected movements. If we manage to achieve genuine realism, we will also be able to cancel it, creating a figure that does extremely unusual things.
Hybrid composite image makes it possible to create a world that is perfectly convincing and real, but at the same time incredible, full of scary visions, phantasms, nightmares, fears, and anxieties, with contours that are precise and inexplicable. Far from Bazin’s conception and the ontological realism of photographic image, composite images offer a redefinition of our relationship with images by destroying the traditional orientation points for understanding realism. And yet, there is a conditional agreement binding the spectator if there is a supposition that the image can establish a relationship with the real, provided that there is a certain possibility of identification.Reminiscent of the “tricks” of Georges Melies, the “gags” and mime of silent film, or even the somewhat earlier chrono-photography, the art of Goran Škofić, which uses black and white image and hybrid sound, approaches in an intriguing way the archaeology of the media, the times when pictures started to move.
Škofić rhythmically orchestrates the visual character of image and movements of the post-human body by using montage that comes close to a sort of “visual stuttering”. In flickering scenes, broken images, and scratching sound, one finds features reminiscent of the beginning of cinematic pictures, creating a link with history through the media, with the support of the new technical possibilities of digital technology. Scenes of movement achieved by Muybridge late in the 19th century, as well as those from the early 20th century, have meanwhile evolved in the illusion of mechanically generated movement that cinema is based upon. Mechanicist aestheticism of chrono-photography used to “catch” what looked like a discreet sequence of movement, transforming it into continuous action, but cinematic decomposition was the only means to synthesize the dynamic plasticity of modernism. In chrono-photography, technology and manipulation in montage procedures and the surprising solutions of avant-garde cinema, as well as the computer animation of today, have the same starting point and the same goal, which is to give a temporal dimension to the static model, manifested in movement. Time that is generated in that temporal and spatial pastiche is a time of simulation, hybrid time.
Comparing innovation in art with that in technology, Manovich has suggested that the avant-garde vision has become materialized in computer software, while the developed strategies of avant-garde now define the basic routine of the post-industrial society, linked to the hyper-production of spectacle, and a radically aesthetic vision has been transformed into standard computer technology. Techniques that used to help the spectator discover the social structure beneath the visible surface have become the elementary working procedures in the age of computers.
The body, self-referential strategies, Corpus / In Goran Škofić’s new series, his video art builds upon the much exhibited Corpus. But it was much earlier than that, as early as his first artworks, that Škofić announced what would become and remain his main subject of interest, visible also in his recent artistic searches, video art, and photographs that he has made in the past few years. Whereas in Corpus social imperatives were the cause of a multiplied body which, “overstrained with the desire of breaking the world record in speed,” must crush all borders in order to reach the wanted goal, in his new pieces it is the self-referential strategies, with some ludic elements and his characteristic dose of humour and irony, that remain in the focus of his interest.
“The body has been video-manipulated in this piece, just as our bodies remain subjected to social control in everyday life,” says Goran and adds: “… In my work, I use my own body as an instrument, a communication channel for interpreting various situations; however, these situations are not only my own, private ones. Instead, it is the ‘social body’ that I accentuate by putting it in ‘common places’ and by engaging it in ‘everyday activities’.”
Sets of repetitive actions take place within a simple geometry of a single frame. Audio-visual recording emphasize the repetitiveness of action, the character of sound is altered. The sound manipulated through computer distortion acquires synthetic quality, like scratching, and becomes irritating. The body is accelerated and multiplied, presented as an incessantly vibrating machine. The vibrating scene/image and the restless body have had their movement visually substituted, brought to life through technological manipulation of the medium, which is manifested in slight twitches, leaps, skips, and breaks, as a result of manipulation of the medium that reveals its artificial and construed character. The possibilities of digital technology and image postproduction make a simple action seem mechanic and artificial. Broken images and the language of processed movement, with its leaps, breaks, and twitches in montage, signify breaks in the social body, emphasizing the senselessness as an existentially based category.In his recent pieces, Škofić has used a completely different outfit. Whereas in Corpus his clothes were of an everyday, casual style, this time the young artist opted for urban austerity, the grey suit of a technocrat.
Space without objects / Unlike the recognizable, everyday scenes, spaces, and ambiences featured in Corpus, these artworks use an entirely different structure of space and a different attitude towards the reality. In his new series, Škofić has abolished all hints at the world of objects. The space of reality that we know has disappeared. Situations are no longer suggested through objects and spatial context, but merely through movement and gesture. Škofić has introduced an entirely different order and a different experience. The world he depicts is void of all coordinates of reality, which were present in his earlier pieces as recognizable ambiences (meadow, gym, theatre, street, beach...). Instead of presenting a specific place, he offers a white plane as the background, a neutral white space with no borders, like “nobody’s land”, a white cube. Space can merely be sensed. It is the world of a decentred subject, boldly simple and clear, a world of pure lines and minimalist expression.
The human figure, the artist himself, is shown as a sign on the white surface without objects, set on the ground with no support, within a rectangular cut of the frame in the abstract field of the world of image. This loss of a “centre” is the loss of support – optical, moral, symbolic, or physical/material, manifested as a symbolic loss of ground under one’s feet. The illusion of depth, the linearity that once ensured the stability and integrity of image and subject as required by the story, has now been demolished, emphasizing flatness and fragmentation through which the detail/fragment acquires the features of a symbol, a sign. As a consequence of the crisis of representation, this reorganization of the sense of time and space through manipulation or multiplication has indicated the position of a decentred subject and the fragmentary character of his identity.
White in MK Gallery - text for Croatian radio 3
by Boris Greiner
In attribution of every single video work by Škofić, among other things, it is stated that its original format is high definition. It is in fact needless to say that since what we see in the projection is not anymore high definition format. Because, if video is to be put onto DVD and projected on a DVD player, it is necessary do reduce its resolution to a single definition. Why, then, is there HD format if it cannot be projected, video artists ask one another? Because of the future, they answer, one day it might be possible to project what has been recorded. And, they agree that they have to be prepared for that day.
The burden gets lighter if I laugh at myself – said Tagore a long time ago. Even today respecting this maxim Škofić mocks at himself including this datum into the technical description of the work, playing with the fact that he is the only one (of course, if in the process of installation of the HD monitor was available) who is able to see how his film really has to look like. For this reason it is possible to identify video art as the only medium in which the author mostly cannot publicly present their work in its ideal form. Naturally, if we speak about ordinary production possibilities of the exhibition.
The irony, which really ends in this detail of the technical description, works its way through the whole exhibition starting from the very title which precisely and completely describes the scenography of the place in which Škofić’s films happen. In other words, the lack of any scenographic element. In the vacant circumstances presented actions make the impression similar to old-time films where the central point is the main character’s gag. The humour of gags comes from the contrast of the main character’s figure in a dark suit contrasted to the whiteness of the space, absurd actions that they take and repeated appearance of the same character in different roles. The purpose of these jokes, however, is not make us break into laughter because the topics to which they refer are serious, it is the matter of challenging human intimate and elementary dimensions.
In the first, let us call it introductory, video the protagonist of the abolished context in this empty space reminds us of a letter in the middle of the empty paper whiteness. The character moves in angular movements, almost jerking like a puppet on a string, helplessly exposed to the whims of the one who pulls the strings. Or, as if we continuously typed different letters on the same spot and then by using some effects we make an animated film. Human figure in the middle of nothing which is metaphorically swung by circumstances of destiny, naturally, belongs to the author of the exhibition. By himself alone he illustrates the individual, by deleting the circumstances the individual is left alone in the world, presented by the action he, therefore, communicates with and by himself. In other words, with these absurd movements he himself humorously comments on his own behaviour the cause of which is not under his control but belongs to an irrational category, to some absolute or, if you wont some subconscious being who has the control over him. At the same time, by all-inclusive deleting of everything, in the white, namely in the nothing, in the only one that is left, himself, he manages to isolate only one dimension. And it is not important which dimension, although it is also quite clear – exposure to either real events or intimate experience of reality – but the key lies in stressing the attempt to identify the individual in view of the whole. Because the whirl of everything is at the same time the one which like a global, not murmur but thunder, disturbs us in devoting ourselves to one thing, seeing off one thought, then welcoming another and so on.
No matter how serious the topic is, certain literalness in dealing with the meanings contributes to the impression of the cartoon. Mental space is de facto set up by the whiteness in which the character is the individual, the inhabitant of this mental space. This inhabitant twists, jerks and contracts, and by emphasising these movements, the author also uses very literal, simple, almost Chaplain technique – he speeds up the motion. The helpless puppet on the string is not even in the middle of the scene by which the pretence is removed, because by avoiding centralising it, the author adequately presents the circumstances that are essential but cannot be declared as such because they are ordinary, and we are daily exposed to these incidental and continuous internal catharses which we move away and make them less present by staying not in the white but in the colourful world.
Brought in the cleared up room of mental, transcendental, fabricated, in one word, irreal Škofić’s habitat, we come to the next episode in which there are protagonists who are now already the author’s multiplied figures.What we have here is a video installation that consist of three synchronised projections shown on different picture projectors. On one TV screen Škofić takes a rifle, charges it, points it and shoots. Opposite to the screen there is a projection on the wall in which there are ten Škofićs lined up one next to the other. As the one from the TV shoots the one from the line on the wall is shot and he falls down in a genre-defined choreography. The one on TV repeats charging the rifle and shooting and the next one on the wall falls down until all of them are shot. At the same time the third screen – “LCD” which is on the gallery floor shows Škofić videotaped from above lying on the floor, naturally, in white, who rolls “laughing his head off”. In the course of shooting and falling his laughter gets more intensive.
The third work is shown on two TV sets placed one next to the other. On the left TV set the figures of Škofić move from the left to the right as if on an assembly line, and on the right TV set individual objects move in the same direction. There is always one Škofić and one object, Škofić by his exaggerated movements always comments on his relation to the object. He succeeds in causing the impression of revived classical cartoon in which, most commonly due to a strike, some characteristic objects like satellites circle around the man’s head. But in this case among them also circles he who is downsized and who unsuccessfully tries to seize them.The two TV sets suggest the video installation, synchronised picture does the same, but anyway there are two screens, two spaces, two worlds and Škofićs will never connect to the wanted objects. But it does not matter, these are just pictures circling around his head.
At the opening of the exhibition, while explaining the detail, which due to noise in the gallery was not possible to perceive adequately, Škofić says that he himself personalised the sound of clicking at charging the rifle and the explosion of shooting. When speaking about this he, however, does not say “I produced these sounds”, but pointing at himself on the screen he says – “he” did it. Accordingly the guys in the line on the wall are “they” and the lying laughing figure is probably “the third one”.
In his spontaneous expression, that is, in his organic experience, the author has already separated from the character. It is the author’s invisible head around which projections of his characters circle. He pulls the strings by which the puppet of the very himself moves in an angular dance. He directs the execution in which victims and the executor and the public are the same.
By putting the characters of himself under his authorial control in this white world of the inner space also the question where the author got the idea for this procedure is suggested: from one more absolute himself who is higher-ranked to him in approximately the same degree as he as the author (now already in the middle of the hierarchy) is higher-ranked to the characters around himself. Therefore, from this more general himself who is unreservedly trusted and whose ideas are carried out into action, but for whom it is not excluded that he also gets instructions for these action (through certainly encoded messages) from above, from some higher instance. It is, however, impossible to check this assumption since the involved but non-material general exists in inaccessible levels of consciousness.
Cityscapes (by night) - Neon Sky / Rigo Gallery
text by Branka Benčić
Media appetite for consuming the architectural images is enormous, and the perception of architecture, like any other object, becomes a part of simulated reality.
City experience is mediated by media, ranging from the paradigms of telecommunication networks and internet technologies as the analogues of urban structures, to various artistic and non-artistic media which not only mediate the city space, but also shape and transform the city into an image. Photography, film, TV and other visual media mediate urban (city) space, attributing it with new connotational layers, while various media explore diverse modes by which urban vistas transform art production.
Video and photographs are the most frequent forms of artistic exploration of urban structure, the recordings of city and people. By transforming the city into an image, the works of artists break down and deconstruct that image, in this manner also deconstructing the usual representation models. New visual impressions, new technologies and possibilities of image (re)production and postproduction, confront the artists with a challenge of shaping the formal expression of kaleidoscopic consciousness. At the same time artists attempted to solve the enigma – how to present the overlapping discontinuity of metropolitan view by a single image.
In his two previous works – video Pilot 0.1 (2002) and photographic series Within the City (2007), Goran Škofić already announced his operating system and art strategies that affirm certain interest for articulating the subjects of existentialism and urbanity. The author continued this interest in a new photographic series, light boxes titled Neon Sky (2009).
A mosaic structure of these early works – video Pilot 0.1 (2002) as well as a series of collage photographs named Within the City (2007) - reveals the fragments of the world, that display how phenomena of contemporaneity - media, art, technology - intersect with social phenomena. Jump cuts in Pilot 0.1 - with its rapid fast cutting and split screens, with dissonant industrial sounds and heavy intermittent rhythm, the editing of "carnival structure" - as observed by Roxanna Marcoco in a catalogue of Here Tomorrow exhibition - host intersection of the fragmented scenes of masks with the images of construction, urban steel and concrete structures. The later series of digitally generated assemblages stresses fragmentation and decomposition. Here, the enclosed cyclic i.e. centrifugal compositions of works – buildings, roofs, chimneys , antennae and trees - narrow and close the centrally placed clefts of sky. -... cityscape, with all its architectures, information and events, squeezes its inhabitants, while an encounter with the city (from a frog perspective) that pulls everything in... can be very much of a dead-end.... claims the author.
Cityscapes, by night
Big city lights in art – including literature, film, photography, paintings - and real life were always equally enchanting for both the artists and the "ordinary" people, observers with or without premeditation.
Neon Sky is a series of photographs portraying night vistas of Rijeka, Split, Trieste and Zagreb. Ever since Van Gogh, the motifs of night sky and night scenes are found with numerous artists. They are also present with Croatian painter Nenad Vorih and can be found in some most recent productions, like a magic, immersive bi-channel projection of Orbita Rossa by Italian artist Grazia Toderi, shown at this year's Venice Biennial. This work's formal features, mode of media realization and radiating aura render it closest to Škofić's work. Rijeka, Trieste and Split are cities connected by their stratified common cultural, geographical and historical contexts. These are all sea cities, sharing similar urban typology, development, history and culture. However, the actual portrayed cities or their names are perhaps not so much decisive or so essential for Škofić's Neon Sky, since that which is actually presented is crucial, along with the manner of its presentation. This includes the illuminated city geometry and the flickering kaleidoscope of colour and light. Neon Sky presents a night scene, portrays the city vista, through a darkness of the night, from afar and from the air, from an elevated viewpoint, as opposed to photographs from a series Within the City, all shot from a low viewpoint, the so called frog perspective. Here, a change of perspective i.e. observer's position, speaks also of the change in the symbolic power of one who is observing. Photographs have been realized as light boxes, objects with their own source of light. They show electric city light merging with starry sky's pulsating glare into a unique, undefined, almost abstract cosmic scene, while the accretions of light recall the galaxies. Like an imaginary city from Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities. Nocturnal cityscapes are truly enchanting and have an almost magic effect. Borders between earthly and celestial get erased. All the lights shine with variegated glare. It is claimed that contemporary city has no more borders that delimit a coherent and homogenous whole, but that we inhabit a fractural space where forms are disintegrated.
The scenes from Neon Sky have been created in a time of paradoxical image-logic, where postproduction and simulation dominate reality, while newly made "delirious mutations" of urban matrix go through digital manipulation of forms, colour contrasts and light, becoming multiplied like the facets of kaleidoscopic image. On the other hand, these night vistas remind us of the objectionable "night vision" seen from an airborne perspective, as if produced by the observing devices from military technology. A photograph in a light box can be observed as a screen image. It possesses the light that comes "from within", and it is known that the experience of electric light makes up the foundation of visuality in contemporary era. A light box is a dominant form of presentation in Neon Sky by Goran Škofić. These light boxes – objects – have volume and enter the space like minimalist objects. As backlights, illuminated from behind with their own light source, they become screens and remind of frozen images and arrested projections. These transparent illuminated photos truly yield a new and different experience, as well as a sensation of watching. Because light attracts gaze. The scenes of neon sky, like TV screens, physically light up the same space they ideologically dominate with.