Abstracts of essays in the catalogue

GPT-3, an artificial intelligence language model text generator, seemed the appropriate choice to introduce Tomo Savić-Gecan’s work and his long-term themes that manifest once again in Untitled (Croatian Pavilion). For decades, the artist has repeatedly relinquished control of his art in favor of allowing machines and quantitative data registering visitor flows or emotional reactions to determine its manifestations. This time, the authority of the artist is rivaled by the vagaries of the daily news, which are processed by AI algorithms and then interpreted by performers.

The durational operation that is Untitled (Croatian Pavilion) yields neither an object nor a spectacular event. It is not, strictly speaking, a choreography, nor is it wholly technological or immaterial. It is all of these things at once. Here Croatian Pavilion curator Elena Filipovic contextualizes Tomo Savić-Gecan’s new work against his broader practice, starting with his very first solo show in Ljubljana in 1994, touching on his predilection for the atmospheric, the algorithmic, time, and temperature—all in order to raise vital questions about communication and, ultimately, control. 

Olga Majcen Linn and Darko Šimičić offer a guide to the terminology, events, and ideas relevant to radical artists and cultural workers in the former Yugoslavia, with a special focus on Zagreb from the 1960s to the 1980s, as seen through the lens of Tomo Savić-Gecan’s art. Covering everything from “A” as in “anti-art” to “U” as in “urban interventions,” this is just a fragment of a much wider history, but it points to the complex networks of ideas and events that connect to or laid the foundations for Savić-Gecan’s working processes.

Tomislav Medak peers into the black box of Tomo Savić-Gecan’s Untitled (Croatian Pavilion), a work that lets the global news flow, as mediated and quantized through a concatenation of socio-technical systems. These are reduced into a hyper-abstract form, which modulate ever so slightly the perception of exhibitiongoers. The author retraces, from the “front end” to the “back end,” the abstractions and translations that the artist has assembled into its expanded choreography.

Vladan Joler dissects the AI behind Untitled (Croatian Pavilion)—the computational workings of the system that directs the performance that is the piece’s most tangible aspect. But indispensable from this is the hidden human labor that relates to and subtends the work; Joler likewise pulls back the curtain on the myth of artificiality and autonomy too often projected by techno-utopian narratives and asks instead—following Savić-Gecan’s lead—about the human role in technology, both as the subjects being increasingly controlled by AI systems and as their very creators. Supplemented by a detailed diagram.

SimCity 2000 and the games that followed in the series featured a winky Easter egg in the loading screen: “reticulating splines.” What does it mean? Rahel Aima takes a deep dive into that bastion of post-truth, the internet, to seek answers and scaffold them into a metaphor for understanding Tomo Savić-Gecan’s work: reticulating splines is the recombination of curved lines into a network or mesh—or, crucially, the appearance of one. Much of the movement vocabulary of Untitled (Croatian Pavilion) is relational, creating links (reticulating splines, if you will) between individual performers, the audience, and that day’s site.

Elena Filipovic 

Rahel Aima, Elena Filipovic, GPT-3, Vladan Joler, Olga Majcen Linn, Tomislav Medak, Darko Šimičić 

Igor Kuduz 

Sternberg Press
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ISBN 978-3-95679-649-4
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