AGNIESZKA JELEWSKA: Bits, viruses, networks. Three cases of the latest Polish art: Lisek/Brzeziński/Janicki
Michał Brzeziński is the second Polish theoretician-artist who often addresses the transformation issue. In his cycle titled Fake Art (2011) he used strategies of scientific knowledge and forms of presenting laboratory test results. However, the real nature of these works has not fully become clear. Often we have faced here mystification and simultaneous creation of contemporary scientific myth of knowledge. Brzeziński situates contemporary artistic operations close to scientific research, and asks questions about the responsibility and ethics of some biotechnology and genetic engineering projects. He raises the issues of identity problems of the contemporary body arising from the technical possibilities of cell and genotype reproduction as well as of the new relationship between species at the level of cell similarity created thanks to scientific discoveries. By creating suggestive contexts for his exhibitions, which as an exposition often take the form of laboratory presentations presenting, for example, various measuring devices, he suggests the scientific legitimacy of his work. In this context what belongs to science becomes in the wide perception real and consequent – it raises the social credit of confidence. The art of Brzeziński, although “fake,” tries to exist within the scientific debate and to actively analyse its impact on reality. At the conceptual level, Brzeziński enters important levels of contemporary world understanding, the domain of particles, microbes and viruses, which is often a symbolic field of cultural exclusion – a form of currently perceived abjection of the world of technologised culture which wants to retain stability, balanced growth and sterility in the first place. In such a reality viruses become an external element, excluded from the body, strange organisms carrying a mutation threat – destabilisation of the organism’s structure.
The work titled BIOS and ZOE (Netfootage Performing Flower) from 2011 is an object addressing the scientific theory of plant and computer symbiosis. Garden Gardenia linked to a USB slot with the use of a galvanic sensor acquires the opportunity to present, with the use of available algorithms, its affective feelings. The work, obviously another artistic “fake” in the context of the latest research undertaken, among others, by the Polish scientist Stanislaw Karpiński on intelligence, communication systems and plant computation, becomes much more serious. The artist himself indicates the social context of his activities:
Giorgio Agamben writes about Zoe excluded from culture understood as bare life, which can be killed without the risk of moral condemnation. Agamben refers obviously to Shoah, as the context of excluding life outside BIOS, which is legally and mentally protected eligible form of life, to ZOE. Calling Jews „vermin” is exactly a reflection of that mechanism. What will happen, however, if we decide to test the vermin awareness domain, what if it turns out that understanding their emotions we will try to sympathise with them? What if we understand the sacrifice made by some forms of life to others in food production process? How can we do that? Technology seems to be only one step away from decoding living organism reactions through analysis of their electromagnetic field.