Interviewed in Zagreb on 16 October 2014
The work of visual artist Ivana Franke is based on a reflexive, conceptual approach that explores the broad field of spatio-temporal perception. Many of her works are characterized by their aesthetic elegance or their distinctively atmospheric quality; however, these formal qualities are in the function of the problem-oriented approach and a destabilization of conventions of the spatial and visual experience that places the viewer in an engaged, active position. This approach is gradually radicalized by Franke to the extent that her works of art disappear as autonomous physical objects, and become a kind of instruments that affect directly the neuropsychological apparatus of the viewer. The credibility of Franke’s works arises, among other things, from her meticulous interdisciplinary research that involves collaborations with artists and architects, but also with scientists and other experts.
ORIS: One of the basic questions of your work is related to the venue of the works – what is it and where is it located? In your work titled, Seeing with Eyes Closed, this question arises quite explicitly since the viewers have their eyes closed while surrounded by technology that directly affects them. Where is that place where the work exists?
Ivana Franke: I would define this venue of the work as an interface. Otto Rössler, a biochemist involved in studying the chaos theory, published a book titled, Endophysics: The World as an Interface where he claimed that reality existed only as an interface – an interface between the external and the internal world. The dichotomy between the exterior and the interior space is eliminated, to a certain extent.1 In terms of exterior space, we have concluded that there is no such thing as absolute objectivity. The traditional tendency of science involving a separate observer discovering the laws of nature has failed. With quantum physics and onwards, we know that the observer participates in the processes of measuring and monitoring. On the other hand, sometime in the late 1980s, the phenomenology questioned the subjectivity as an absolute category of narrative self. We can say that a fixed entity exists neither physically, nor as a psychological category. Also, a recent theory of consciousness by cognitive scientist Donald Hoffman argues that the function of perceptual experiences is not to give an accurate picture of the outside world, but that it is the consciousness that creates the optimal interface specific to the human species. In Seeing with Eyes Closed, and in my other works as well, I am trying to modify that interface so that it becomes noticeable, which happens when the external stimulus and the perceptual response do not correspond. The installation modifies what we call the exterior space, creating an affect that is both mental and physical. This internal aspect is accentuated in Seeing with Eyes Closed. This work actually happens in the body, that is, in the mind of the viewer.