Media-logged journey– pleasures and asceticism of transcendence

Branko Cerovac on  Sandro Đukić‘s work


Media-logged journey as transcendence of “the imminent conditions of consciousness” and the naïve art-phenomenology of “reality”
Đukić versus Altamira and On Kawara

Assuming reality is real, its media-trace/manifestation are also real. The significance of the media-projected reality uncovers itself through strengthening the awareness of necessity to transcend the realistic ideology frame. It is exactly this significance that is within the meticulously thought out/evolving/archive-regulated expressions of the photographic-new-media yoga modus operandi of the Croatian transmedia art traveller Sandro Đukic. To be more precise, the recorded journey memories refer to the fifteen-year period (1989 – 2004) leaving us with records of time/space that are sufficient for staging a small retrospective/re-presentation of the monumental LIBRARY / ARCHIVES.

The final (therefore, uncritical, naïve) understanding of Kant’s Ding an sich (i.e. “thing in itself”) cannot be reached through the discourse (taboo of the metaphysical assertion grounded in the common perception, reason and discourse practice). So much to begin with. The first, invisible super-frame creates a rift between “the reality” and our perception/ interpretation of the same even before a photograph and a photographer – MEDIANAUT THROUGH THE AGE OF THE WORLD PICTURE – catch our attention.

A naïve photographer would not really be aware of it while an experienced and sophisticated medianaut like Đukic certainly would. Indeed, Đukić grounds his own media-research of “things” on that precise awareness, i.e. in the first place he indulges in a “romantic” adventure by glorifying/self-portraying the image of the Traveller through the “real” i.e. simulated World (“Around the World in One Hundred Days”) by conceptually seducing “a naïve eye” and luring it to indulge in pleasurable fiction of “the-direct-experience”-subjective maneuvering “through” the world of things. That world has been arbitrarily represented by a cut-up selection of fascinating “views” and exotic topos à la Corto Maltese – at the end of the millennium (in other words, we are talking here about “the non-existing Corto” since Pratt’s hero has to withdraw/fade away/disappear from the historic-fictional Malta sometime in 1936 together with the last romantic traces of this “historic” World!): Mann’s Felix Krull (The Confessions of Felix Krull, Confidence Man), “picaresque” journey, “Goethean” journey, Narcissus’ lyric contemplation in the landscape background representing the media-projected mirror of the soul; sailing, rock-climbing, bon vivant tourism, glam-Art of the wanderer and globetrotting adventurer.

Following that, the artist goes from SIMULACRUM of the World to phenomenological exploring of the MEDIUM OF RECORDS/LAY OUT/FRAMES – “IMAGES OF REALITY, etc.” (1998 – 2000). In the last phase of his Journey (2000 – 2004) UROBOROS has decided (managed) to bite his own tail: the CYBER-MEDIANAUT was confronted by a self-referential task of delivering a complex alchemic metamorphosis of his own artistic development (preoccupation with the “issue” through different media and technologies) through all phases and genres as well as their “hybrid” effects on the perception of the cumulative picture of analogy/simultaneity/ incommensurability of linguistic and stylistic-idiomatic “games” (WittgensteinLyotard) – that have eventually been capsulized in a common-encompassing counterpoint – interaction: mutual, inter-media; between the picture/media and the subject of the perception/ interpretation of “things” (visitors, audience).

The Subject’s (the initiator of the whole 1989 – 2004 process) wish to face the “result” of his obsessions/passions/investigations as with the Gesammtkunstwerk scene/event, as well as to have the same presented to the Other – provoking a reflection and interaction of communication on the phenomenon – resulted in the decision to fully develop and stage this exhibition (of archival approach) in the appropriate premises of the recently remodelled Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Rijeka.

The original relationship between the isolated photo-self-portrait and the tradition of the portrait painting (beginning with mannerism, going to baroque and romanticism and further) as well as early simulated neo-sculptural pieces from the end of 1980s (Damir Babić/Sandro Đukić exhibition) slowly leave the spotlight while a remarkable development is made in displaying the ability of the medium (i.e. digitally archived photographs transposed onto film) to generate/disperse countless “pictures” – frames, compressed in a short real-time span or spectacularly overlapping in a rapid exchange of sensations.


Altamira / On Kawara / Dan Graham / Đukić

Unlike Kawara, preoccupied with existential reading since the early 1960s (Sartre, Nausea) and ontological issues of essence and experience of time and the language of Altamira (being a language beyond time and history i.e. an explicit language of the picture that communicates to us even today and as such goes beyond our limited experience) – Sandro Đukić, Mephistophelianly puts every “communicative aspect” of the digital journal of reality (technically separated from “thing in itself”) on trial, in the continuous process-game – revelling in ambivalence, complexity and transposition of arbitrary displays. On one hand, we have ontological issues and on the other, the manneristic use of mirrors and the anamorphosis in an effort to ingeniously – but also critically-subversively – examine the record-recorded relationship. Documentary, librarian precision and nothing but a spectacular homage to boldness and freedom of Mannerism stand opposite from the “thing” and the perspective of the early renaissance. The medium, technological aspect of the relationship, is a mirror i.e. the assemblage of mirrors entirely covering/uncovering the walls of Reality. As a consequence, we are challenged by a huge span of intellectual possibilities of reception: the nature of media, the analysis of essence and consequences of applying a certain procedure on reality and its subsequent image; continuous questioning of the nature of the “picture’s” both aspects. Therefore, the core of the multimedia artist Sandro Đukić’s procédé and credo, implies a strongly present and active cognitive dimension as a component of the aesthetic approach to phenomena and artistic procedures like in major inspirations: Marcel Duchamp, Joseph Kosuth, Dimitrije Bašičević Mangelos, Gerhard Richter, On Kawara, Dan Graham, James Turrell and other leading figures of modern and contemporary art.
This monumental exhibition concludes and completes our cooperation resulting in Opus Magnum  – beginning with Đukić’s awarded sculpture-object from 1991 (comprising a photo-self-portrait and an integrated display i.e. timer “showing” the objective time in the “subjective” work and in its subject perception), followed by the Image of Reality – Reality of Image (1999) exhibition staged in the Mali Salon exhibition space of the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Rijeka and leading to the current event.



The borderline domain of the phenomenology of perception and data storing in the “subjective” memory; at the hypothetic “conclusion” of the subjectivity’s metaphysics, Technology as destiny and Cybernetics as “the extreme” i.e. artificial-linguistic essence of the whole process of dianoetic ending of The Age of the World Picture (Heidegger-like motif in the modern process of “destruction/deconstruction of metaphysics” that “advances” into Jacques Derrida’s grammatology in the 1960s) in a barely distinguishable, hybrid inter-zone of paraontology and parapsychology of the mnemotechnics of the artificial, formalized and numerated memorizing of the media-logged perception of personal experiences and actions (recording – documenting – filing) – some kind of pseudo-magic transfer occurs between the “subjectivity” of the computer operator i.e. the Artifex-Archivist and the “objectivity” of the new-medium and technology processed “personal memory”.

A time-consuming and highly demanding job of keywording and coding of the computer “memory” (not only of a visual one – but also of digressive associative-affective relationships, relations and the entire immanent psychodynamics i.e.  “libido management” that gives “life”, “meaning” and power to numbers – information) – results in “achievement” of an enormous quantum of the “subjective memory” stored in the external machine database. Indeed, the Operator-Archivist suffers from spurs of amnesia i.e. inevitable but unexplainable loss of “subjective” memory, a kind of “primitive-pathological” cyber-artistic “loss of soul”  (a psychological phenomenon well-known to anthropologists, ethnologists and those researching the psychology of primitive man, the “archaic psyche” and the corresponding phenomenology of animism and shamanism). As if the “soul” immigrated to the coded computer database, to the machine’s immaculately structured system of documents, archives – decentralized and stored on CD-ROMs, DVDs and other  “inorganic” organs of the android memory of the Subject (divided and multiplied), whose mechanic, electronic Other is preserved within, restoring His memories by default.

A man-like Android, analogous to the gnostic Anthropos, reveals as a “generic being” (early Marx, Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1874) whose primary attribute is also TECHNOLOGY, “performance”, poiesis, praxis of the universal machine-assimilation of Nature, the structure of which is encoded in the matrix and principles of generating data at the sub-atomic level (at the “electron” level) of the newly-discovered Sphere of Ideas, the ANAMNESIS of which occurs only then when we turn on the computer. Computer wakening in the object’s realm (Reality) becomes analogous to “wakening the conscious memory” of the subjective experience of the Archives project’s author. Thus the machine becomes an almost perfect external aid to Funes’s “nominalistic” memory i.e. Borges’s “Aleph”.



Minutes are infinitesimally split into frames, “slow-motioned”, extended into succession-synchronicity of pictures (depending on the medium chosen for reproduction of images – recreation of events) while years are being compressed into a chaotic order of the dizzily accelerating spectacle of image reproduction, repetition, “continual rewinding backwards to the same frame”).

The face of the Cameraman (catching himself!) functions in the spectacle of chaos as the sole strange attractor having countless faces swarming, coming closer and going further, disappearing; just like various objects, different environments/situations/life scenes – “societal”, public but also – intimate, “in two” and solitary, ALONE in the harsh domain of elements, titanic environment or concrete, cranes, sky and skyscrapers (only the Archivist and those familiar with his existential itinerary and his “close encounters”, recognize faces, bodies, occasions, “affairs”, social events and emotional significance of those image-encoded “stories”!).

One of aesthetically interesting “chance encounters” – even in the “original” dada-surrealistic sense! – in the lushly orchestrated and remarkably-rich-in-details Archives, is a paradoxically synchronised coincidence (an illusion?) of the entirely mechanically, machine-determined order of objective generating of video frames and indisputable possibilities for a “lyrical” narration-reception-interpretation of the subject choreography of the wide-angle moving-pictures [the “event” being crowded with familiar faces from “the Art scene” as well as “satellites” from museums, galleries, festivals, parties and real “genre scenes” from the country and abroad (Zagreb, Umag, Rijeka, Bjelovar, Hvar, Bisevo, Abruzzo, Berlin, Duesseldorf, Copehagen, Lisbon, etc. and countless other cities and places from Đukić’s existential photo-video Archives!) that became the integral part of the Story].

It is impossible not to recognize the Traveller’s intensive role, being the subject/focus of his own history, as well as a remarkable distinctiveness and the personal and differentiated specific quality of EXACTLY – THAT intimate and artistic course – in spite of the speed that prevents us from making the analytic evaluation and in spite of the “frozen” interpretation of the seen/displayed sensations. Since I am rather “involved” and thus in on the “secret” of the (Author’s/Archivist’s) personal narrative, I dare to put forward a hypothesis according to which Sandro Đukić’s poetics and modus operandi, as opposed to On Kawara’s “Altamira-like” numeric and temporal asceticism – does imply the subjective emotional narrative (self-portrait/autobiographic path of “personal meaning” and existential communication/reading of the document-encoded- personal mythos, his own emotional and cognitive canon) – that managed to escape from the machine database like from the Aladdin’s magic lamp.

The artist’s emphasis on the importance of taking a thorough, inner approach toward technological creation, structure and essence of the new-media work, as well as the commitment to improving the production of the image and its presentation – characterised by external radiance and Apollinian shine of the spectacle’s visual surface seems to, in an uncompromisingly subtle manner – almost poetically shy and introversive – disguise and push into the background (in no way of “secondary” importance!) the moment of the controlled emotional behaviour, the implicit “lyric” participation in the documented and archived, the digitalized “travel journal” in thousands and thousands of images flashing in front of our eyes.

After all, wasn’t it exactly Pratt’s hero, Corto Maltese, who was COOL when it came to his emotions, filled with (even if unlucky) amor fati, despite relativity/vagueness of life, ephemeral quality of oceans and weather, transiency of moments-frames in “history”? The significant character, the metaphor from the anthological comic series of the wizard Hugo Pratt, introduced in one of Đukić’s early works, actually reveals the (as if) incidental, pseudo, “ephemeral” characteristic of the sensibility of our Archivist, “dispossessed of subjective memories”. The Traveller remembers nothing BUT the salty touch of the sea, the wind and white sails.

Summer, 2004.


* Translated by Dada Hana Banak

This post is also available in: Croatian