Hot links: about principles of shaping experience in the digital world, Dejan Sretenović


Dejan Sretenović, art and media theoretician, chif curator of the Museum of Contemporary Arts in Belgrade, associate of the School of history and theory of images of the Centre of Contemporary Arts from Belgrade and the editor-in-chief of the Virco library.

Dejan Sretenović, Belgrade

The lecture of Dejan Sretenović also covered a presentation of new editions of Virco, media publication department of the Centre of Contemporary Arts from Belgrade: Metamedia - compiled texts of Lev Manovich and Digital Partisans with the texts of the artistic-theory group Critical Art Ensemble.

Dejan Sretenović focused on the phenomenon of virtual reality and individual perception of the virtual environment. Interesting is the analogy he draws with the secret organisation Asasina from the 11th century. The legend has it that their leader, Hasan Sabah, in order to achieve total submission of his followers, he would promise them that they would see heaven on the day of their initiation to the organisation. He really did design his quarters so that they resembled a kind of heaven with all possible kinds of riches and delights. Then, he would give them wine, during the initiation, with some hashish in it which would drift them away and put them to sleep. The future members would then wake up in this 'heaven' and would spend their time there until they'd fall asleep again. After such 'experiences of heaven', they were ready to sacrifice their own lives in their future actions. This analogy with 'heaven' is applicable to the experience of virtual reality and the promises we are given concerning the future of the digital paradigme.

Metamedia contain texts of Lev Manovich where he analyses the visual representative systems starting from paintings, films, and all the way to visual strategies of new media. Manovich is pointing out the connection between artistic practice of historical avant-garde (especially russian) and some basic visual and technical achievements in art of new media. The starting point for his thesis, Lev Manovich is taking examples of avant-garde artists who used the principles of editing for the first time in film art (Dziga Vertov), which later becomes the ultimate principle of windows operation systems.

In the collection of texts called "Digital partisans" an artistic-theory group Critical Art Ensemble-CAE shows the connection between the global pancapitalist system and the development of ICT (Information and Communication Technologies). Naming the negative aspects of the development of the Internet and contemporary communication technologies, CAE is emphasising the differences between developed and developing countries which become more and more apparent, quite contrary to the proclaimed utopian principle that the development of technology will be beneficial and that the third world countries will grasp the standard of the north through new economy. On the other hand, in the countries of developed technologies there is evidence of alienation problem (who said Marx?) because communication is being done through technologies just like simultaneous control which is an object of that same communication.

Dejan Sretenović focused on the phenomenon of virtual reality and individual perception of the virtual environment. Through these two editions, Dejan Sretenović presented two approaches in contemporary media theory. Lev Manovich deals with formal characteristics of new media in his texts, and their connection with the visual arts and representation strategies. CAE emphasise the sociological implications that is brought by Mcluhan's 'Global village', the connection between the military industry and new technology, the military character of the Internet with its ever apparent system of surveillance and control.