Vivere Venezia 2 (VV2), Recycling the
La Biennale di Venezia, 50th International Art Exhibition, 2003
Academy of Fine Arts, University of Ljubljana, Slovenija
(Department of Video and New Media)
re-establish an alternative reality of a given space means to bring to life
that lie there as their potentiality. Two complementary trajectories transgressing the territory
will open up the space of the exhibition VV2, i.e. the one-way path from the gardens to the arsenal.
installation consists of four deep-sea water voyagers. The outward appearance
calls for a corresponding internal perspective, which is established by means of VideoSpace,
an interactive virtual reality, that isn't mapped in the dramaturgy of the time of experience
but in the internal logic of space. Another layer of the project is
Friedhof Laguna Racing Team, the world of marketing, which is our world
that turns the deep-sea water voyagers into Formula 1 cars, the subject positions
into cockpits and artists into racers.
The foundation of our project is the idea that the alternative universes (possible as future living spaces) are always already here, very much existent and even discursively structured. The foucauldian shift in the humanities has disclosed the strategy of the emancipatorial projects of the twentieth century: they always actively disguise their own genealogies, by naturalising multiple discriminations and pressures that constitute the world we live in. What we should learn from Foucault's lesson (considering its multiple uses in contemporary feminisms, gender studies, postcolonial studies etc.) is, that we should not try to establish something new, but to attentively and kindly listen to what our actual environment has to say, i.e. to find the alternative and better reality right here, before our eyes.
Two starting points for our project are given in advance: the exhibition place is determined by the trajectory connecting the two main venues of the Biennale - the Giardini di Castello and the Arsenale buildings -, and the fact that our project includes multiple authors working together on a single complex piece. The aim of the Friedhof Laguna is therefore to repopulate the path leading from the idyllic Gardens to the Arsenal, the immense storage facilities that were meant to contain weapons; its apparent decay is of course an interesting case of a genealogy being disguised, since these days the arsenal buildings (in Italy, too) are all but obsolete. Our repopulation will be done by means of multiple artistic contributions in a dialogue of multiple artists.
The task to re-establish an alternative reality of a given space is connected to its re-territorialization, which means that we have to bring to life spatial values that lie there as their potentiality. This will be done by means of two complementary trajectories transgressing the territory. The space of the exhibition VV2 - Recycling the Future will be, we could say, "opened up" by a proposition of an alternative trajectory, an escape from the one-way path (the main trajectory) leading from the primary Biennale exhibition (the gardens) to its secondary appendix (the Arsenal).
The installation Friedhof Laguna consists of four deep-sea water voyagers, a flock of imaginary beings racing under the arc of a crystal clear summer day towards the sea, their element, which we could conceive as something undoubtedly good. The underwater creatures, resembling those inhabiting the sea below 1500 meters - the volume of this not yet explored living environment is the largest on earth -, are at the same time close to us (anyhow, much closer than anything in the universe, where human has always strived to encounter other intelligent life forms) and just beyond our reach because of the extreme conditions that our bodies sustain only with great difficulties. Our project will not attempt to chart the genealogy of the given reality (which of course could be one possible way to activate the territorial values of a particular space), but instead we will inscribe other possible discursive formations into the territory of the exhibition thereby colonizing it completely. The interactive video installation consisting of four pieces will use the deep-sea water voyagers to add meanings to their new environment, the exhibition space of the VV2.
When beings inhabit an environment, they necessarily leave some sort of tracks behind, and thereby they actively constitute their own territory by means of their interaction with it. If we consider the diagram (above), we see a triangular relation: the installation Friedhof Laguna positioned as an object, a semiotic node, discretely placed into the territory, the territory that corresponds with it and which is established only by means of a first person gaze trajecting it (trajectory). Our alternative trajectory (escape towards the sea) a priori entails a populated territory - our particular form of installation is therefore one possible way to inscribe alternative territorialization into a given reality, i.e. by means of the nodes - deep-sea water voyagers (they could not be simplistically construed as mere objects).
Of course, a mere addition of a deep-sea environment to an existing space does not sufficiently emphasize the delicate border between two realities, which is the reason why our project consists of two levels of application of alternative reality to the Venice reality: the imaginary creatures and their world of the deep (that we already explained) construct alternative exteriority, whereas the complementary part of the project, a 3D virtual video reality, on the other hand, constructs an alternative interiority of our new mode of local existence. Each of the four parts of installation (the four deep-sea water voyagers) holds within its "body" a first person perspective (three computers with 3D reality and a video tape) a perspective different from ours. In the video tape a real travelling through the exhibition area following its primary trajectory from Giardini to Arsenale will be mapped by means of monoliths that will be added synthetically to the video recording. The exhibition will be completely covered with a regular square grid consisting of more or less inconspicuous marble menhirs. These menhirs will also occupy the interactive 3D virtual reality - the VideoSpace -, where they will function as sensitive triggers for sounds, videos etc. The interactive video reality is, however, a part of our liberatory trajectory towards the sea.
The division between the interior perspective and the exterior appearance that is fundamental to the Friedhof Laguna project follows the phenomenological description of two mutually irreducible modes of existence, the I-existence and the existence of the other (see Mikhail Bakhtin: Author and Hero in the Aesthetic Activity). If we believe what philosophy says about the nature of our reality, then we must accept that also the space in front of Giardini, today as it is without considering the Venice Biennale at all, is fundamentally double, consisting of internal perception of the experiencing self and the outward appearance of objects as they confront the subjective perception. This insight has an important consequence for our project, since we must not - in order to maintain the first person perspective - construe the virtual reality in terms of some kind of mimesis of the real spaces. The virtual reality of VideoSpace has to eliminate time duration to emphasize the coexisting network of different discourses and ideologies. The virtual video space is therefore constructed following these basic elements: (1) the textures, (2) the objects with their 3D form and (3) the interested gaze that crosses this reality as implicit avatar positions in an ongoing dialogue of opinions. The virtual reality will be filled with multiple projects by multiple authors, including the reality of the deep-sea water world that is the motif for the external form of our alternative reality.
Two trajectories, two worlds, have been established by structuring one alternative world. We have to stress that the detailed construction of the alternative world arises from the complexity of the given reality, which is, of course, more complex than its artificially fabricated counterpart. The title of our project can be therefore read not only as the laguna that is the cemetery but also as the cemetery and the laguna, finally we could go even back to read peacefullness and freedom in the word Friedhof. On the other hand, today's reality continues to be trapped between the happy few in the gardens of Eden and the never-ending vastness of war-territories that gain a different kind of peace - R.I.P.
The last "layer" of the Friedhof Laguna project is Friedhof Laguna Racing Team, which adds another, a surplus layer of coding to the world we brought to light. The world of marketing is our world, which turns the fish-creatures into Formula 1 cars, the subject positions into cockpits and us artists into racers. The world is never what it seems, so pay attention to how you understand it. Be a sponsor of Friedhof Laguna Racing Team.