WRO Biennale 2019 CZYNNIK LUDZKI / HUMAN ASPECT exhibition
during the Tetramatyka Festival
Museum of Ethnography and Art Crafts
Swobody Avenue 15, Lviv, Ukraine
Oct 4-20, 2019


WRO Biennale 2019 CZYNNIK LUDZKI / HUMAN ASPECT exhibition
during the Tetramatyka Festival
Museum of Ethnography and Art Crafts
Swobody Avenue 15, Lviv, Ukraine
Oct 4-20, 2019


As in previous years, we whittled down the copious program of shows, exhibitions, and performances of the 2019 CZYNNIK LUDZKI / HUMAN ASPECT 18th WRO Media Art Biennale to put together a choice assortment of videos and documentations to go on tour. The 2019 WRO on Tour program features the works of artists who examine the complexities of the contemporary nexus of the human, the technological, and the environment, capturing the turn towards the human as an initiator, a recipient, and sometimes a victim of rapid transformations. The selected artworks explore this shift as a central issue of our times and a relevant factor in current artistic practices.

Composed with the exhibition at Lviv’s Museum of Ethnography in mind, the present special selection of installations and videos adds up to a narrative in which the human factor, entangled as it is in less and less transparent systems of intelligent algorithms, comes to the fore in artistic gestures which deliberately envision the active involvement of viewers as cracking fissures and rifts in the technological overlay of reality.

At the same time, the status of the human in these artworks is mutable and susceptible to a variety of transpositions. Activated and invalidated, enhanced and undercut by technology, human agency is presented from multiple angles and in diverse social contexts as meandering its way against the changing coordinates of our age, rather than staying on a stable course.

Predictive Art Bot, an installation by DISNOVATION.ORG which opens the exhibition, is the winner of this year’s Critics and Editors of Art Magazines Award. Building on chance operations which were already used in art of the 20th century, the piece not so much interrogates the traditional expectations of originality in art, as it critically scrutinizes the very idea of artificial intelligence. It incessantly generates new artistic and curatorial concepts by combining – in real time – words from the headlines of articles posted on Internet websites. Fostered by the installation, the algorithmic play at and with unexpected clusters of meanings which gesture at a potential interference with the system of art is a call to retain critical distance.

In their performative installation Tablerror, Karina Marusińska and Alicja Kielan highlight the absurdity of optimization compulsion. Slight defects of china tableware, which turn it into waste by the standards of quality control and thus disqualify it as tradable commodity, are re-cast by the artists as assets to be shared with the participants of a performative banquet. The eponymous error refers to the impossibility to convey the real character of the event through its video documentation, rather than to the imperfections of the china. Since they are put on display in a museum cabinet, the crockery pieces and fragmentary documentations are viewed from behind a glass pane. As such, they are only a remote echo or a trace of the event whose meaning and appeal were produced by its participants.

Jana Shostak and Jakub Jasiukiewicz’s processual, multi-form Miss Polonia, represented in Lviv by the video March and a performance in which Miss Polonia makes her appearance in the exhibition, also questions conventionalized benchmarks of perfection. Shostak and Jasiukiewicz hack the system of beauty pageants by feeding it a bug of unaffected authenticity and a clear ethical stance, as the rights of women, minorities excluded for a variety of reasons, immigrants, and refugees are consistently articulated as human rights by Jana Shostak, a miss wannabe. In her quest for one trophy after another, she is accompanied by Jakub Jasiukiewicz, who serves as her impresario and registers her endeavors on film. Together, they seize any opportunity for media visibility to re-code the concept of beauty and the role of the artist in different terms.

However, shaken by a series of social media-generated dopamine highs, the human aspect has also another facet, which shows in the dissolution of empathy and mental autonomy, which are ousted by automated behaviors and uncomplicated, populist, or unabashedly violent ideologies. The media-mediated information flow and the flickering stream of news not only trigger the atrophy of meanings, but also breed indifference in the recipients. The works by Emmanuel Tussore and Dani Ploeger situate human agency amidst such processes in which we abandon values, relinquish ethical principles, and break the norms of solidarity.

In his video Sirènes, Tussore uses a simple editing trick to break down (into human aspects) the euphemistic term “refugee crisis” by showing individual people who disappear in the waves of a stormy sea with dignity and calm. In this way, he restores humanity to anonymous victims who perished while fleeing wars, persecutions, and poverty.

Dani Ploeger’s installation The Grass Smells So Sweet produces a perverse reconstruction of the artist’s experiences from the war in eastern Ukraine and Internet accounts of trauma-struggling veteran headshot survivors. The installation combines the physical setting and virtual reality tools to build a critical distance to the electronic entertainment system, in which one easily becomes oblivious to the fluctuations between real experience and a technical simulation of it.

Two other works – Nintendogs by Fabian Kühfuß and Oracle by Esmeralda Kosmatopoulos – also address the issues involved in the interception of human agency by robotic systems and machine learning automatics. In Kühfuß’s playful installation, a robot is continually stroking a virtual puppy. A human being, a potential owner of the game, is exempted from the obligations of empathy and care.

In her work, Kosmatopoulos uses the gesture of automatically picking words from predictive text in order to show how much linguistic semantic structures are appropriated by AI and in the next move infect our natural communication modes. All our text messages, all posts we e-mail to our loved ones generate a behavioral surplus on which intelligent algorithms feed all the time. By resizing this stream of semi-automatic messages, distance is promoted and reflection is invited.

The exhibition’s last installation piece is a work by two British researchers and art&science artists Anna Dumitriu and Alex May. Their Archaeabot: A Post Singularity and Post Climate Change Life-Form is a robotic creature which refers to archaea, the oldest known life-form on the Earth, inhabiting extreme chemical environments. The artists draw on the latest research on archaea and self-learning algorithms to stage a speculative vision of life continuing in the post-human future. By constructing an archaeon-like robot equipped with artificial intelligence (and as such theoretically capable of evolving), Dumitriu and May focus our imaginations on a radical future. Ravaged by human activity and extinction, the planet is only inhabited by one form of life – the bizarre Archaeabot, a hybrid of concepts of life, such as vitalist, productive, and pre-human zoe and bios, a changing political discourse on life. On this take, the human aspect is both irremovably immanent and entirely eliminated.

The Lviv show is the first presentation of a part of the 2019 WRO Biennale’s exhibition outside Wrocław. What makes this iteration of the Biennale’s thematic concerns truly special is its unique site-specificity. The Museum of Ethnography stores pieces of once-coherent collections of objects the uses of which may now be quite enigmatic, but which embody people’s aesthetic and functional sensibilities in other social and political realities. It is indeed an exceptional setting for an exhibition which addresses our current relations with technology. While the human aspect crafts new layers of reality, it simultaneously confronts the increasing autonomy of human-developed technologies.


DISNOVATION.ORGNicolas Maigret (FR) + Maria Roszkowska (PL), Predictive Art Bot, 2017, generative installation
Karina Marusińska (PL) + Alicja Kielan (PL), Tablerror, 2019, installation, objects, video loops
Jana Shostak (BY/PL) + Jakub Jasiukiewicz (PL), Marsz, 2018, video installation, 6:38
Emmanuel Tussore (FR), Sirènes (Sirens), 2017, video installation, 11:00
Fabian Kühfuß (DE), Nintendogs, 2017, robotic installation
Dani Ploeger (NL), The Grass Smells So Sweet, 2018, installation, objects, VR application
Esmeralda Kosmatopoulos (US/FR), Oracle, 2017, installation, object, video loop, 5:00
Anna Dumitriu (GB) + Alex May (GB), ArchaeaBot: A Post Singularity and Post Climate Change Life-form, 2018, robotic installation

WRO on Tour #3
on / off
presented as part of the exhibition

A look at humans and their living environment. A look from above in which geometrized macro-scale landscapes oscillate between aesthetic abstraction and the information-saturated precision of big data. A look from close up in which private space wrestles with the system of power and its violence. Visual manipulations, techniques of cropping and editing, and composition modes provide aesthetic satisfaction and illuminating knowledge about our relationships with our closest private and social milieu and with the cultivated, cultural landscape. These variable relations, in which our agency is both abolished and excessively enhanced, are framed by the present and a speculative, post-human future.


Liliana Piskorska (PL), Public Displays of Affection, 2017, 6:49
Lukas Marxt (AT/DE), Imperial Valley (cultivated run-off), 2018, 14:00
Tomasz Domański (PL), Horte!, 2018, documentation of a performative installation, 4:09
Jacek Chamot (PL), islands_ 03, 2018, 3:17
Rafał Żarski (PL), Palace in the Middle of the Town, 2018, 4:52

18th WRO Media Art Biennale 2019 CZYNNIK LUDZKI / HUMAN ASPECT

Artistic director: Piotr Krajewski
Program director: Violetta Kutlubasis-Krajewska

Curators of the on/off exhibition:
Agnieszka Kubicka-Dzieduszycka
Małgorzata Sikorska (collaboration)

WRO Center for Media Art Foundation
Tetramatyka Festival
NURT Association

WRO: From the Archives

Other WRO event at the Tetramatika Festival

WRO: From the Archives
selected, developed, and presented by Paweł Janicki
Oct 24 / Thu / 12 PM
Lviv National Academy of Arts / 38 Kubiyovycha Street, Lviv
free admission

Since its commencement, the WRO has taken care to register and archive our events, such as exhibitions, performances, concerts, symposiums, and meetings of artists, researchers, and activists (so that the recordings can serve as resources for research, educational and artistic pursuits). Over the three decades of the WRO’s history, this seemingly simple principle has helped us compile a unique collection of materials which have inspired and supported other projects, including publications, exhibitions, explorations (carried out both by the WRO team and by the beneficiaries of our artistic and curatorial residence programs), and even strictly artistic endeavors, such as interactive installations which place archival recordings in new contexts.

The WRO’s experiences from three decades’ worth of work, which has abundantly involved archives, also imply that there is a fundamental difference between the working methods and styles used in a “live” archive which is built within an artistic institution as part of its autonomous operations and an archive which is petrified in its context, treated with utmost deference though it may be. Far from negating the relevance of specialist knowledge about the very process of and the cultural significance of archiving, it may well be worth its while to examine archiving-related issues as an active and ongoing process of accumulating experiences and legacy.

Artworks on display:

Benoît MaubreyAudio Ballerinas, performance on the Main Square in Wrocław

Władysław KaźmierczakCrash, performance broadcast live from the television studio
WRO Polish Monitor Festival, 1994

Eric SiuTouchy, performance in public space
15th Media Art Biennale WRO 2013: Pioneering Values

Mirosław E. KochKormorany. Epizod Dym.

Istvan KantorMedia Revolt, performance at Renoma Department Store
Wrocław, June 20, 2014

Jaron LanierVirtual Reality as Musical Instrument
Media Art Biennale WRO 1997

Jarosław KapuścińskiThe point is
GLOBALICA: Media Art Biennale WRO 2003

Tibor Szemző Tractatus, performance broadcast live from the television studio
Composers’ Night, 1995

Marcin KrzyżanowskiMadness and Desolation

Arkadiusz “Bago” BagińskiCommunicators, installation sabotaging the urban traffic control system
GLOBALICA: Media Art Biennale WRO 2003

Andrey UstinovFilm Noir, performative installation
17. Media Art Biennale WRO 2017 DRAFT SYSTEMS

Conditional arts | applied simplicity

Other WRO event at the Tetramatika Festival

Conditional arts | applied simplicity
illustrated talk by Paweł Janicki
Oct 25 / Fri / 12 PM
Lviv National Academy of Arts / 38 Kubiyovycha Street, Lviv
free admission

Plentiful materials illustrating both his own work and the practices of selected international artists serve Paweł Janicki to spin a tale of using relatively simple mechanisms involving coding and algorithms in media art. Originally prepared as a presentation for the WRO team within a WRO self-study program, the talk playfully and educationally highlights the potentials of simple structures and techniques, showing how ingenious media artworks can be made without having to rely on costly cutting-edge technologies.