We care for moving image art

Digital Experiments

The spread of digital technology at the expense of analogue media has had a crucial influence on both the creation and distribution of audiovisual art. Artists experiment with the digital image using increasingly perfected technology that is also available outside the facilities of expert workplaces. For the artist Lucie Svobodová, the computer was a welcome opportunity to establish her own personal studio, where she could work regardless of the demands of the official normalisation-era culture of the 1980s. Early in her career, she used the graphic system of the Amiga computer, which allowed her to develop the principles of classical animation using digital morphology. In his film Erosynta I., the artist Martin Hřebačka also experimented with the possibilities of computer animation, simulating the optical and haptic properties of the surface of a silver, morphing shape.

The beginnings of 3D animation in the first half of the 1990s are also captured in René Slauka’s works Kytka [Flower] and Hlavolam [Puzzle], whose compositions of shape refer to the aesthetic positions of constructivism or minimalism. The increasing availability and processing power of technology allowed for working with the digital image to become a common art practice. At the EXPO world fair in Shanghai in 2010, the Czech pavilion introduced interactive digital animation based on illustrations by Zdeněk Sklenář. One of the co-authors of these animations was Martin Búřil, who, in his video Monoskop no. 3, deleted all the graphic data of the original illustrations of the Monkey King.

In his work En plein air 2, artist David Přílučík also works with the constructed nature of the digital image. Shots of the Icelandic landscape, originally made with the aim of promoting Samsung television screens, are slowed down by the artist on the basis of the time he estimated it might have taken to film them. The increasingly perfect possibilities of the digital image push the possibilities of representation of both existing and fictional realities, as is the case in Tomáš Kajánek’s Malinko nakouknout [Take a Little Peep], in which the artist uses deepfake technology to take on the appearance of the deceased musician known as Lil Peep.

Lucie Svobodová: Obrázky [Pictures]

6 min, 1989
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The short film Obrázky [Pictures] represents one of the first audiovisual artworks created in Czechoslovakia that made use of computer animation. During her studies in the Film and TV Graphics Studio at the Academy of Art, Architecture and Design in Prague (UMPRUM), Lucie Svobodová mostly worked with classical animated narration through figural drawings.
In one of her first films, Obrázky, she abstracts the central narrative and the protagonist, developing the possibilities of a new play of colour and form through the graphic system of an Amiga computer. In Svobodová’s work, the motif of the pilgrim is connected to a thematisation of the conception of time and a life cycle, influenced by the artist’s experience of Buddhist teachings.

Martin Hřebačka: Erosynta I.

3.5 min, 1994
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In his film Erosynta I., Martin Hřebačka made use of and explored the possibilities of computer animation. On a dark background reminiscent of infinite depth sails a silvery substance that gradually changes shape. The music of Vladimír Helebrant, who had joined the Czech alternative rock group MCH Band as a keyboard player and singer in 1988, contributes to the atmosphere of an artificial universe, an atmosphere that seems distant from our own reality. By simulating the optical and haptic qualities of the surface of the silvery morphing shape, a space is created for associations ranging from cellular micro-worlds, through liquid states of both natural and chemical matter, to notions of outer space.

René Slauka: Hlavolam [Puzzle]

2 min, 1994
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In his 1994 piece Hlavolam [Puzzle], René Slauka explores the possibilities of computer animation – including simulations of 3D space – on the basis of variations on modern art movements of the 20th century. The shapes refer to the aesthetic foundations of constructivism and minimalism. Hlavolam was created in the first half of the 1990s along with other computer animations that Slauka created either on his own or in collaboration with Věra Geislerová. Slauka used computer animation to simulate spaces and depict everyday objects as attributes of the material world.

Martin Búřil: Monoskop no. 3 – Monkeyking legend

7 min, 2011
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In 2010, an interactive animation was created for presentation at the EXPO world fair in Shanghai, based on Zdeněk Sklenář’s illustrations for the Czech translation of Journey to the West – Opičí král [Monkey King] (Czech translation: 1961). One of the co-authors of the animation was Martin Búřil. Monoskop no. 3 is built on the foundational cutouts of the animation of the story of the Monkey King, but with all the graphical data of the original illustrations removed. The Monkey King’s battles with the Jade Emperor are transposed to collisions of colourful rectangles of a generic monoscope, a calibration pattern that replaces all missing data in Adobe After Effects software. Búřil’s Monoskop is a technical ready-made; animated film of pure form, devoid of any content.

David Přílučík: En plein air 2

3 h 57 min, 2015
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The title of En plein air 2 refers to the tradition of outdoor paintings. The artist David Přílučík appropriates shots of the Icelandic landscape, originally made with the aim of promoting Samsung television screens, slowing down the individual shots on the basis of the time which he estimated it might have taken to film them. This simple manipulation rids the original footage of its uniformity, shifting the spectator’s attention to specific phenomena in the landscape depicted. The artist also reflects on the issue of the representation of time in relation to the theoretical work of the writer Diedrich Diederichsen.

Tomáš Kajánek: Malinko nakouknout [Take a Little Peep]

3 min, 2020
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In his work Malinko nakouknout [Take a Little Peep], Tomáš Kajánek adopted the appearance of the well known singer Lil Peep, whose sudden death in 2017 sparked off a public debate on the use of pharmaceuticals in treating psychological conditions. The work captures a posthumous message from the musician, in which Peep reflects upon his role in the process of the commodification of mental health. The artist used deepfake technology to simulate the rapper, allowing for the digital visualisation of individuals on the basis of existing audiovisual recordings.

Image: Digital Experiments
Kytka (René Slauka, 1994)