Converging Realities: “Desktop Studies” Pavilion at The Wrong Biennale 2023

One of the most interesting multimedia projects of the last year, “Desktop Studies” consists of an exhibition at CAV Gallery (1-30 November 2023, curated by Gabriela Mateescu) and an online pavilion as part of the program of the renowned The Wrong Biennale 2023 (November 1st 2023 – March 1st 2024, taietzel ticalos was in charge of the design and efficient running of the pavilion hosted by The 14 selected artists mainly dealt with digital animation and virtual reality (VR): Cezar Mocan, Vitaly Yankovy, Claudia Brăileanu, Flaviu Rogojan, Diana Gheorghiu, Herne Hiili, and some of them created extensions of digital works in the physical environment, either installations (Anastasia Manole, Maria Băcilă) or 3D printed objects – Antonia Corduneanu, Dragoș Dogioiu, Datejuice, 3Delusional, Nicoleta Mureș, Marta Mattioli. With a significant contribution from curator Gabriela Mateescu, the exhibition at CAV presents an impressive and dynamic ensemble, both in terms of the variety of subjects explored and the overall coherence in the layout of the works.

A short tour can begin with Claudia Braileanu‘s Stereoscopic Landscape Painting project, an interesting example of technologically augmented painting by means of virtual reality. Separating the canvas from its physical constraints and inherent materiality, the artist opens up a parallel dimension visible only through ghostly pieces of painting. Using the virtual reality headset controllers to interact with the environment, viewers can reconfigure a fluid window into a 3D scanned landscape. The painting becomes dynamic, all-encompassing and, most importantly, assembled in different ways by each viewer. In this respect, we could say that the artist is opposed to the confinement of the image within static boundaries, a point of view also shared by the well-known director Alejando Innartiu, who invokes „breaking the dictatorship of the frame” in an interview regarding his own VR installation, Carne y Arena (Cannes Festival, 2017).

Claudia Brăileanu, 360° Stereoscopic Landscape Painting, Interactive Software Application for Desktop Web Browser, 2023

A similar approach can be seen in the work Latent News (Dragoș Dogioiu), which places the user inside a representation of the latent space inherent to artificial intelligence models, a virtual space of possibility that encompasses images corresponding to prompts addressed to the AI. Starting from a selection of real footage from TVR1’s Telejournal, the work questions how artificial intelligence interprets news in teletext format, which are then transformed into two-dimensional images between which the user can move.

Dragoș Dogioiu, Latent News, VR experience, 2023

One of the most striking works is the Different Stages of Beautification installation by Anastasia Manole, which is displayed at the entrance of the exhibition in a bright green, polygonal space. Here, the artist questions the biases inherent to A.I. image manipulation tools. Incorporating two videos, the installation demonstrates that the sets of images used to train generative artificial intelligence are dominated by idealized models of beauty, in which a subject’s image has to fit what the media deems as the norm. The second video explores this issue directly, through the greenscreen-clad figure inviting the viewer to consider the infinity of possible virtual images that can intrude upon the original body.

Anastasia Manole, Different Stages of Beautification, 2023

TikTok Nightmares reveals itself as an exploration of Datejuice‘s nocturnal ritual, an hour of social media scrolling before bedtime that blurs the boundaries between the corporeal and digital worlds. The animation exposes the devious infiltration of content addiction, like fine particles of digital microplastic that seep into the subconscious and pollute the sea of neurotransmitters. Every surface of the dream stage becomes a site for the exposure of short-form content, ranging from pieces of furniture to walls, illustrating the sensory overload caused by the loud sounds and flashing images that force themselves into the race for the users’ attention.

Datejuice, TikTok Nightmares, 2023

The resilience of cockroaches in harsh environments is recontextualized by Nicoleta Mureș in Urban Dreams, Coffee Cup Schemes, where even the lowly arthropod becomes exploited in the fierce race for productivity, fueled by caffeine. Far from being trapped in hidden crevices behind furniture and in the dark corners of human dwellings, the cockroach-human hybrid is willingly captured by the grid of cells in a spreadsheet, encouraged to continue by totemic figures who embody the constant pressure of alienating labor.

Nicoleta Mureș, Urban Dreams, Coffee Cup Schemes, 2023

Personal experiences merge with queer internet aesthetics in the animation I had this dream again! by 3Delusional. The stereotypical image of rural people talking on the porch of a house is replaced by a set of colorful characters, frozen in time as if in the middle of a conversation, while the virtual camera zooms out to a crystal ball that reveals a possible future. By being integrated into the monolithic collection of data hosted on the internet, the work questions the preservation of personal memories. In the future, the animation could inadvertently become part of a dataset used to train artificial intelligence models, or it could remain contextless, orphaned, as is the case today with many images produced decades ago, whose origins are impossible to trace.

3Delusional, I had this dream again!, 2023

Welcome to My Page, I Hope You Have Fun: Being a Girl Online! invites the audience into a digital narrative that unfolds against the backdrop of ever-changing spiritual landscapes. In an age marked by the breakdown of established institutions, the internet emerges as a prominent avenue for spiritual expression, driven by a large number of communities comprised of relatively anonymous users, who are detached from the restrictive dogmas of the past. Through the interactive website and the installation featuring a white bed in the gallery, Maria Băcilă constructs a dynamic spirituality of seclusion.

Maria Băcilă, 。 ゚•┈୨♡୧┈• ゚。 Welcome to My Page, I Hope You Have Fun: Being a Girl Online ‧₊˚✩彡, website, 2023

The subject of spirituality and religious experiences is echoed by Antonia Corduneanu as she explores the ambivalence of the serpent symbol, with its perpetually changing skin, in the work Forgive me Father, for I have seen. Whether it’s the digital or the 3D printed serpent, the outer shell is dominated by shedding as it shifts from the clear glass and reflective metal of the digital realm, to the plastic scales of the 3D printed snake wrapped around the forbidden fruit.

Antonia Corduneanu, Forgive me Father, for I have seen, 2023

Last but not least, Cezar Mocan examines the rules of interfacing with computer programs through the animation Human Interface Guidelines (Metaphor), based on a set of such guidelines published by Apple in 1987. The video, presented on two channels, dismantles the conventional workings of the computer screen, ordered and designed for the most intuitive interaction. A desktop background showing a static landscape is deconstructed into its component parts, which begin to rotate like the hands of a clock or a loading icon. Set in motion, the flora in the landscape shuffles a number of folders originating from an unknown source, accumulating in increasing numbers as discordant tones along with the sounds of a computer can be heard in the background.

Cezar Mocan, Human Interface Guidelines (Metaphor), 2020

All these endeavors are part of a wide range of cultural actions and events developed under the banner of spamindex for over 7 years. The complexity of the technological implementation, the thematic connection to the international scene, the collaborations with artists from all cultural centers of Romania, including with the legendary group kinema ikon, lead us to place spamindex amongst the most important new media initiatives in the country.


Dragoș Dogioiu

Bio en: Dogioiu Dragoș-Ion is a New-Media artist interested in XR and animation, currently active in Bucharest. As a member of Kinema Ikon, he has collaborated with them in a number of exhibitions an...

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