Frame Project for “Visual Seminar” 2003
“Vizual” - 1. a specific kind of visual thinking and analytical behavior by an artist (L.B.) that is a form of interaction with the visual interface of the city of Sofia; 2. the product(s) of this kind of thinking.
I notice that the interface of the city of Sofia is different in the different parts of the city.
In the central parts of the city the corporate logo, which is positioned high above eye level on the roofs of the buildings, dominates the visual environment. It is shiny, does not have concrete information and in terms of semantics is voided of context, or rather, it is localized within its own context without a connection to the actual product that is offered by the particular corporation. The corporate logo commands gigantic visual space.
In the neighborhoods outside of the center, even in the center at the level of the eyes, the dominant visual presence is of the neighborhood logo. It is very direct and positioned in close proximity to the client/citizen while rubbing itself visually in his/her body and eyes. The neighborhood logo is commanding a space of 50 m in diameter and is actually a kind of visual “marking of a territory” like the stray dogs in the same neighborhoods of Sofia do. Between the neighborhood logo and the business activities it is promoting there is no distance. The neighborhood logo is rough, crude in style but it is very vital and vulgar.
The in-between visual territory is occupied by a third type of presence in the visual interface of the city. That’s the Bulgarian billboard. It is a kind of visual promotion of a local business that is pretending to have a national coverage of its activities. One example is the set of billboards of the kinds of grape brandy produced in the city of Karnobat in Bulgaria, the Pearl Grape Brandy, as well as the infamous billboards of the locally produced Vodka X-taz. The Bulgarian billboard is using something from both of the above-described types of visual presence: a/ it is shiny and attractive as the corporate logo in its visual form; b/ it is vulgar and concrete in its messages just like the neighborhood logo. In this sense the Bulgarian billboard is the same type of phenomenon as the so-called “pop folk” music (the “chalga”) with its vulgar lyrics and vital, powerful music.
Such a triple layering of the city environment could also be observed in the architectural environment of the city, which however, is localized and positioned differently in terms of time - the leftovers from before 1989 and so on. This environment, especially the office and apartment building construction after 1989, is influencing the life of the city in a similar way to the ones of the logo and the billboard.
The process aspect of the project “Hot City Vizual” presupposes the accumulation of observations and visual commentaries of cases and in ways exemplified in the attached “Diary of the origin and the substance of the frame project”. It is related to the pre-condition that the context of the fellowship is one of debate and discourse rather then one oriented to single art objects.
The substance of my project “Hot City Vizual” for the Visual Seminar is to build up an “advertisement campaign” for a certain neighborhood (family) business in a corporate way within the public space of the city. And vice versa… Here I do envisage three basic promotional lines of action:
1. “Stephan’s Brigade (himself and his sons -in-law)” - page 2-4 of the attached Diary
2. “My Key maker (and Phillips)” - page 5-6 of the Diary -
3. “The new neighborhoods” - page 7-14 of the Diary
The limitations of the budget as well as the unpredictable process of getting permissions for public installment of the visual products of the campaigns presuppose additional and mixed variants of these ideas!
In as much as my project is positioned within the context of the Visual Seminar with its debates and academic context of daily work of the fellow artist, the project an additional element that is best described as “product-as-process”. Here I do envisage two lines of work/activity:
4. “Visual Hot-line for visual irregularities” - to connect to people and the media - page 15-20 of the Diary
5. “Samples - a diary of the city interface” - the whole Diary seen as artist’ book in edition of 1, page 21-29 in particular
These last two lines of work do not depend on the budget limitations but are meant to function all the time. The aim, specifically of the Visual Hot-line, is to construct a situation of a constant link and feed back between the Visual Seminar, the people and the media (individual reporters, columnists, etc.) who in this way can be stimulated to take part on an equal footing with the other participants in the seminar.
The project foresees a public presentation of the whole process and results in both public and gallery space.
The Resident Fellows Program is the product of a partnership between the ICA-Sofia and CAS-Sofia activities and programs on a more theoretical level. It will be organised by the Centre for Advanced Studies Sofia in accordance with the ICA. Within a given year, CAS hosts four resident fellows from Bulgaria for a period of six months each. They come from the fields of contemporary visual arts, other artistic areas, or academia and are selected by the Experts' Unit of the Visual Seminar based on their submitted applications and the application/selection procedures appropriate in such cases. The resident fellows have a stipend and reside in Sofia for the period of their fellowships while working on a specific artistic or research project related both to the topic of the “Visual Seminar” project and to the other activities of CAS. The finalized projects are presented in public in Sofia and discussed by the Forum of Visual Culture (see Module 1).
The idea of cooperation between academics and artists is based on the familiar experience of the Centers for Advanced Study in Europe and USA. Their established practice involves the artists’ participation in the intellectual community of researchers gathered for other research projects of the Centers for Advanced Study. They engage in, and contribute to, the debates and the heuristic atmosphere of the Centers and develop their own artistic projects based on this experience.
Such fellows would be selected by a special procedure appropriate in such cases.