The Seduction of Forms
Covering, surface, form: if we look at technologies generally, these words frame our first contact with them. More precisely, the contact of users, whose senses determine their positive or negative relationship with them. We choose products on the basis of whether we like them or not. Surface, form, design, shape, material, structure etc.: all of that creates an aesthetic of media which today assaults us ever more intensively from all sides (advertising has never been so individually orientated and so sophisticated in its targeting). Technologies have a diversity of aesthetic forms that is boundless; its richness is determined by the purpose which the specific thing fulfils. The aesthetic of technological media is a kind of stimulant of our senses, playing a game with them that simply activates our enjoyment. Harmonically fluent or mutually contrasting colours, shapes and forms — these create a potential idea of ownership, generating a desire whose foundations are woven together in the aesthetic relationship with the thing itself. That is the beauty of design, which leaves us unable to shake off the feeling that what we are observing creates only a purely positive feeling from the thing’s observation. We presume that the thing has a specific purpose which makes it what it is, and likewise we presume there will be practical benefits from owning it.
The sphere of aesthetic knowledge directed towards the “covering” of technology thus concedes to material and practical utility its outstanding role. Its organs, its mechanical “innards”, remain hidden from us as users [the black box concept]. Computer circuits, cables, precious metals, algorithmic entries: all such things, packed beneath the plastic cover of the apparatus, remain inaccessible to the ordinary user. More and more, the new generation of information technologies remains in sophisticated concealment from our eyes; only the developers have access beneath the surface. Those accordingly gain full control over the technologies’ viability and determine their temporality. Hardware becomes something sacred, inaccessible, something only the manufacturer has access to.
Deconstruction as Method
Concealment and aesthetic “seductiveness” are two qualities of contemporary information technologies: on the one hand the aesthetics of shapes and forms of design, on the other the inner mechanism. We will also find similar deconstructive thinking in the exhibited work of Milan Vagač (*1987). In his current solo exhibition there is an interplay between the aesthetic of technologies, which he purposefully appropriates, and their pragmatic side. The continuing BAU series (from 2016) accentuates this game in its very name, which evokes the famous Bauhaus school. That was a place where modernist thinking took down the barriers between fine art and applied art, between individual original artistic expression and mass production. Vagáč once again erases those boundary limits, drawing on the Bauhaus legacy; programmatically he demonstrates the media qualities in a painting itself, advancing its expressive means and simultaneously updating it to face the challenge of the present time. With assurance he denies its flatness and discloses hidden layers and structures.