Igor Španjol
SCCA-Slovenia / SCCA-Estonia 1997

>Talk to me Like Lovers Do III<

It all begins with an exchange of glances. Next you summon the courage and move nearer. Without thinking too much about it, you start a discussion. You say something (doesn't matter what), half-stupefied, just to make contact. And you hope for feedback.

A visitor who comes face to face with Damijan Kracina's interactive video installation finds him/herself in a similar trivial and chance situation. There is an intimately darkened room, with a green-blue projection on the video wall showing trout in an aquarium moving slowly through the water, oblivious of everything around them. Or are they only pretending, knowing that, in this way, they will attract even more attention? The line between our own real space and the virtual space of the fish seems impassable - at least until we break the ice of the video surface with our first sentence. The microphone is linked to the sound system which transmits our statement (with a 10-15 second delay); the statement thus becomes the main system of communication between the two worlds otherwise connected by the video wall. According to the artist, the viewer's words in front of the screen manifest themselves as feedback of his/her own verbal statement resonating in the image of the parallel underwater space. Although the video trout become a mirror which speaks our own words back to us, it is always us who define what the fish will tell us. The basic compositional form of the viewer in front of the screen was modelled on the Kracina TV installation (1995), only that the self-portrait of the sculptor - hyperrealistic in form and psychological in content - is replaced here with the figure of the viewer, his/her structural portrait in the form of a statement. This statement, according to Barthes (Fragments d'un discours amoureux, 1977), "offers the site of someone speaking within himself, amorously, confronting the other (the loved object), who does not speak."

T he delayed aquatic outbursts of the viewer's voice,his/her spontaneous and random statements, are nothing but fragments of the lover's discourse that Barthes named figures. "The word is to be understood, not in its rhetorical sense, but rather in its gymnastic or choreographic acceptation", explains Barthes and - as if he were describing the statue of the viewer-speaker - adds that every lover is "caught, stuffed into a role, like a statue."

Damijan Kracina is a doubly-engaged artist. Pointing towards the ecological dimension of the preservation of the trout's natural environment, which is also his home place (for example, in one of his most recent campaigns he advertised the clear freshwater of the Soča river on postcards), he also endeavours to affirm "lover's discourse, which is today of an extreme solitude. This discourse is spoken, perhaps, by thousands of subjects (who knows?), but warranted by no one; it is completely forsaken by the surrounding languages: ignored, disparaged, or derided by them, severed not only from authority but also from the mechanisms of authority." Alongside science and technology, art has also been merely one of the mechanisms of authority, warns Kracina without losing any of his crystal-clear poetics.

Igor Španjol

Translation: Borut Cajnko