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Goran Škofić / Hybrid Video Images and Audio-visual Mutations -
Stylizing the everyday anxieties

Branka Benčić

Hybrid video images (possibilities of digital technology) / Hybrid video art by Goran Škofić indicates the consequences of technological development and those aspects of working with (moving) images that make it possible to manipulate, alter, and restructure them. In the historical context, the relationship between art, technology, and identity has not been investigated in any other medium with such consistency and continuity as it has been the case with video art. In his new series, Goran Škofić has discussed the topic that has practically become a constant element in the young artist's opus - questioning the self-referential strategies in which the basic (and only) motif is the artist's own body, that is, his own figure. He investigates the technological possibility of digitally manipulating the image, while his special interest rests with the social aspects and absurdities of everyday life.

Škofić's video vignettes are structured like loops, combining the techniques of digital animation, montage, and collage, shot by using optical technological devices. They may be considered composite images, a term that denotes pictures formed from various elements obtained through digital technology (digital photography, graphics editing programmes, 3D design, stop-frame, motion capture). In achieving unusual elements in synthetic images, the artist emphasizes the possibilities of manipulating the figurative realism of photography in order to express tangible reality, which remains the essential necessity. Once the body or an object are entered into the computer, it is possible and simple to produce the most unusual angles and most unexpected movements. If we manage to achieve genuine realism, we will also be able to cancel it, creating a figure that does extremely unusual things.

Hybrid composite image makes it possible to create a world that is perfectly convincing and real, but at the same time incredible, full of scary visions, phantasms, nightmares, fears, and anxieties, with contours that are precise and inexplicable. Far from Bazin's conception and the ontological realism of photographic image, composite images offer a redefinition of our relationship with images by destroying the traditional orientation points for understanding realism. And yet, there is a conditional agreement binding the spectator if there is a supposition that the image can establish a relationship with the real, provided that there is a certain possibility of identification.

Reminiscent of the "tricks" of Georges Melies, the "gags" and mime of silent film, or even the somewhat earlier chrono-photography, the art of Goran Škofić, which uses black and white image and hybrid sound, approaches in an intriguing way the archaeology of the media, the times when pictures started to move. Škofić rhythmically orchestrates the visual character of image and movements of the post-human body by using montage that comes close to a sort of "visual stuttering". In flickering scenes, broken images, and scratching sound, one finds features reminiscent of the beginning of cinematic pictures, creating a link with history through the media, with the support of the new technical possibilities of digital technology. Scenes of movement achieved by Muybridge late in the 19th century, as well as those from the early 20th century, have meanwhile evolved in the illusion of mechanically generated movement that cinema is based upon. Mechanicist aestheticism of chrono-photography used to "catch" what looked like a discreet sequence of movement, transforming it into continuous action, but cinematic decomposition was the only means to synthesize the dynamic plasticity of modernism. In chrono-photography, technology and manipulation in montage procedures and the surprising solutions of avant-garde cinema, as well as the computer animation of today, have the same starting point and the same goal, which is to give a temporal dimension to the static model, manifested in movement. Time that is generated in that temporal and spatial pastiche is a time of simulation, hybrid time.

Comparing innovation in art with that in technology, Manovich has suggested that the avant-garde vision has become materialized in computer software, while the developed strategies of avant-garde now define the basic routine of the post-industrial society, linked to the hyper-production of spectacle, and a radically aesthetic vision has been transformed into standard computer technology. Techniques that used to help the spectator discover the social structure beneath the visible surface have become the elementary working procedures in the age of computers.

The body, self-referential strategies, Corpus / In Goran Škofić's new series, his video art builds upon the much exhibited Corpus. But it was much earlier than that, as early as his first artworks, that Škofić announced what would become and remain his main subject of interest, visible also in his recent artistic searches, video art, and photographs that he has made in the past few years. Whereas in Corpus social imperatives were the cause of a multiplied body which, "overstrained with the desire of breaking the world record in speed," must crush all borders in order to reach the wanted goal, in his new pieces it is the self-referential strategies, with some ludic elements and his characteristic dose of humor and irony, that remain in the focus of his interest.

"The body has been video-manipulated in this piece, just as our bodies remain subjected to social control in everyday life," says Goran and adds: " In my work, I use my own body as an instrument, a communication channel for interpreting various situations; however, these situations are not only my own, private ones. Instead, it is the "social body" that I accentuate by putting it in "common places" and by engaging it in "everyday activities"."

Sets of repetitive actions take place within a simple geometry of a single frame. Audio-visual recording emphasize the repetitiveness of action, the character of sound is altered. The sound manipulated through computer distortion acquires synthetic quality, like scratching, and becomes irritating. The body is accelerated and multiplied, presented as an incessantly vibrating machine. The vibrating scene/image and the restless body have had their movement visually substituted, brought to life through technological manipulation of the medium, which is manifested in slight twitches, leaps, skips, and breaks, as a result of manipulation of the medium that reveals its artificial and construed character. The possibilities of digital technology and image post-production make a simple action seem mechanic and artificial. Broken images and the language of processed movement, with its leaps, breaks, and twitches in montage, signify breaks in the social body, emphasizing the senselessness as an existentially based category. In his recent pieces, Škofić has used a completely different outfit. Whereas in Corpus his clothes were of an everyday, casual style, this time the young artist opted for urban austerity, the grey suit of a technocrat.

Space without objects / Unlike the recognizable, everyday scenes, spaces, and ambiances featured in Corpus, these artworks use an entirely different structure of space and a different attitude towards the reality. In his new series, Škofić has abolished all hints at the world of objects. The space of reality that we know has disappeared. Situations are no longer suggested through objects and spatial context, but merely through movement and gesture. Škofić has introduced an entirely different order and a different experience. The world he depicts is void of all coordinates of reality, which were present in his earlier pieces as recognizable ambiances (meadow, gym, theater, street, beach...). Instead of presenting a specific place, he offers a white plane as the background, a neutral white space with no borders, like "nobody's land", a white cube. Space can merely be sensed. It is the world of a decentred subject, boldly simple and clear, a world of pure lines and minimalist expression. The human figure, the artist himself, is shown as a sign on the white surface without objects, set on the ground with no support, within a rectangular cut of the frame in the abstract field of the world of image. This loss of a "center" is the loss of support - optical, moral, symbolic, or physical/material, manifested as a symbolic loss of ground under one's feet. The illusion of depth, the linearity that once ensured the stability and integrity of image and subject as required by the story, has now been demolished, emphasizing flatness and fragmentation through which the detail/fragment acquires the features of a symbol, a sign. As a consequence of the crisis of representation, this reorganization of the sense of time and space through manipulation or multiplication has indicated the position of a decentred subject and the fragmentary character of his identity.

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