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a is a performative study of portrait, dedication, concentration and digital video medium.

I produced it according to a set of simple rules. From January 1 2005 to January 1 2006 I photographed my self-portrait every day. Framing the face frontally in macro mode, I took between ten to thirty photographs each day and selected one, which makes a total of 365 photographs. I made the video by morphing the pairs of selected photographs in chronological order, with the interval of 25 frames (one second in PAL) for each morph. I created the sound by modulating the analogue record crackle with sine wave frequency ranging from 25Hz to 9125Hz for 365 seconds. Video is presented as a looped, high resolution, large scale horizontal wall projection, and the audience views it lying laterally. Sound is played through a sound system from the back of the audience.

a investigates the capacity of the portrait to function simultaneously as a visual representation and as an event whose perceptual, cognitive and emotional qualities induce identification and self-reflection in the viewer. Because of its anthropological import the human face, if presented in the right way, easily sets off projective interaction even if it is not identified by the viewer. In that sense, a proposes the portrait as a symbolic mirror.

The continuity of animation catches the eye and offers visual pleasure in the abundance of details, while the minimal changes in the appearance and facial expression indicate the distinctiveness of every key frame, and the time, effort and will required for the completion of the work. Variations of the image and of the notion of time within the single motif establish a paradoxical poetics of the digital medium whose discreteness (exact definition of all encoded values) contrasts most human experiences which are continual.

The systemic repetitiveness of the animation can be considered as an allusion to the cynicism of somewhat tedious and grim social position of contemporary visual artists whose profession is being increasingly identified as one of the service jobs within the cultural sector.

The work title is a letter that is learned first in most languages and most frequently used in Serbian, reflecting the topical elementarity of the project. It refers to one of the key concepts of Jacques Lacan, ‘object little-a’ (objet petit a) which denotes the unattainable object of desire that remains as a residue after the introduction of symbolic order within the Real. The reductiveness of the title indicates the significance of autonomy and conscious self-isolation in the individuation process. It supports the idea of the project to achieve a complex, holistic effect with relatively simple means, and indicates disparity between the non-verbal aspects of artistic experience and the hegemony of discourse in the cultural context for production, presentation and evaluation of contemporary art.

a belongs to a series of my study-projects in which the programmed animation transposes the portrait from the visual database to an event, such as Dog Life Days (1997), All My People Right Here Right Now (2002), Alibi (Black or White) (2012) and Anticipations (2015). The work was shown in Dom omladine Gallery Belgrade, in Cultural Center Rex Belgrade, in Galeria 26 Bucharest, in Unagaleria Bucharest, at the Sense of Pressure exhibition in (Atelier als) Supermedium the Hague, and at Hybrid-Imaginary exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Visual Arts in Novi Sad. a[4] is a variant of this work from 2010.

Bibliography

Miodrag Šuvaković, VIRTUOSITY of Performing the PORTRAIT: Versions of the Work and the Life Itself, 2006.
Miodrag Šuvaković, Hybrid-Imaginary (Painting and/or Screen: On Painting in the Era of the Media), 2006.
Miodrag Šuvaković, Conceptual Art, 2007.

Gerhard Gross, The Appeal of Incosequence, 2006.

Vladimir Todorović, a=a, 2006.

Srđan Marković, Attack on the Static Self-Portrait, 2006.