Swimming Against The Stream of Consciousness

Swimming against the stream of consciousness


For the past four years artist Žarko Aleksić has focused his interest on the field of cognitive neuro-science and his potential for articulating new artistic ideas and concepts. Over the years he developed multiple projects, one of which was „States of Mind“, where he explored the importance of experience in construction of ones identity, through researching neuroplasticity, episodic, semantic and procedural memory, using video journal methodology developed by Jonas Mekas, as well as James Joyce"s stream of consciousness. Furthermore, „Brain Pictures“ is another multidisciplinary project realized as the result of a research done over the several years, in the context of which scientific methodology and artistic practice have been intertwined, displacing artistic activity in general, production of artistic pieces, as well as contemplation of art in new ideological frame, based on researches in cognitive sciences.

After the successful collaboration with EvaLab on the project titled „Brain pictures“ , at the department for the cognitive psychology at Vienna University, they once again join their forces as a part of the project under the name „Swimming against the stream of consciousness“, focused on researching the brain-machine interface through non-invasive brain stimulation, done by machines TMS and tDCS.  References on Dadaistic movement and their fascination with mechanization and new mechanical devices is reflected in mechanicistic understanding of the brain as biological machine. Apprehension like this clearly poses the question – who directs and controls our space of thought and action.

Advances in cognitive sciences and associated technologies in the past years open numerous questions among which those regarding consciousness, privacy, thought decoding and power relations are in focus of Žarko"s new work. Brainwashing, conducted on war prisoners and prisoners in concentration camps, was presented as regular practice through media, who themselves use similar patterns for manipulating consciousness. Nowadays, brain manipulation has become more direct, and technology became more accessible than ever. Collaboration of people and the machines is looking increasingly inevitable, but the question of authority in that alliance remains open.

Besides exhibition itselfand  performance on the opening night, programme includes lecture and presentation of segments of artists multidisciplinary project „Brain Pictures“, developed over the course of several years.