Art and Technology:
An Overview of 20 Years of
Cooperative Creative Practice
The New York Society for General Semantics is pleased to host a special presentation by Nika Oblak and Primož Novak, an artist duo from Ljubljana, Slovenia, who are visiting New York City this month. Oblak and Novak will discuss their work, which uses technology as a tool for self-reflection. They build complex machines capable of bridging the physical and the virtual, the digital and the mechanical, the natural and the artificial. Since 2003, they have produced a large number of projects, including performances, films, photography and installations, that together constitute an ongoing investigation of contemporary life, focusing on its most controversial aspects: the traps of consumerism, the oppressive structures of work and politics, the ambiguous relationship between reality and fiction, and the hidden perils of an uncritical use of technologies.
In The Box (2005), for example, we see the artists inside a TV screen, trying to find a way out by pushing and kicking the walls. Their actions infiltrate the physical world by bending the frame of the monitor, but they are never able to break out: the mass media system is a giant rubber wall that won’t let us escape its influence, no matter how hard we try.
Oblak & Novak’s work is also concerned with how humans today are not just exploring new tools of communication, but are also completely fused with them, to the point of not being able to recognize their true impact. To describe this new situation, the artists build alternative machines, ironic devices capable of depicting in a very accurate way our daily life: a circle of recursive actions that are both entertaining and exhausting.
In Endless Column (2017), the protagonist tries to balance several monitors on her head, in a circus-like performance. All of her attention is focused on the action of keeping everything in place, without losing a single piece. In a world saturated with media contents, and surrounded by devices that continuously demand our attention, we always feel challenged, chased, and in the process of missing something. Distracted by this impossible task of managing everything, we slowly turn into entertaining machine ourselves, becoming part of the global media spectacle.
Nika Oblak and Primož Novak have been working as a collective since 2003. They examine contemporary media and capital driven society as they dissect its visual and linguistic structure. Their works were exhibited worldwide, in venues like the Sharjah Biennial (UAE), Japan Media Arts Festival, Tokyo (JP), Istanbul Biennial (TR), Biennale Cuvee in Linz (AT), Transmediale Berlin (DE), FILE Sao Paulo (BR)... Oblak & Novak received numerous grants and awards, including the CYNETART Award (DE), ACC_R Creators in Lab Grant, Asia Culture Center (KR), an honorary mention at Biennale WRO (PL), White Aphroid Award by MMC KIBLA (SI) and Rihard Jakopic honorable mention, highest national award for visual arts (SI).
Come join us for a stimulating and provocative presentation!
6 PM to 9 PM Wednesday, May 10th at the historic Players Club in Gramercy Park.
Registration is free, but all attendees must be registered in order to gain admittance to the club. This includes any guests you might want to bring with you.
The program will take place in the Library on the 2nd floor of the club. Please note that, as an historic 19th century landmark, the site is not handicap accessible. Dress code is business casual and is strictly enforced, including no sneakers, shorts, ripped jeans, t-shirts).