2005, Miklova hiša Gallery, Ribnica, Slovenia

Nataša Petrešin: Invisible life of attractions

Throughout the use of light, artificial resin on the plexi glass Uršula has continued her research of the dematerialization of the medium (the pictorial surface) in the direction of thinking about the nature being constructed through the mental processes of perception, emergence of associations and meanings within the artistic presentation. At the procedure of the creation Uršula devotes a high amount of attention to the emergence and becoming of the coincidental forms and to the relationship between the observer and the art work. The forms we see provoke an idea about their potential time dimension which comes to being through the observer’s moving and capturing and changing his/her view in the deepness of the field which the light projection creates behind the material medium. The artist is simultaneously to her art practice, undertaking the theoretical research of the biological phenomena in nature, the theory of chaos and the proofs about its inherent order. Thus in the emerging forms she finds a poetics and analogy to the organic processes of the nature.

In her most recent project Uršula is interested in tracing the becoming of the forms with the means of magnetic activity. «Only stupid people believe in things they can see or touch,» says an old man in the film Cold Fever (1994) of the Icelandic filmmaker Fridrika Thór Fridriksson. This radical statement for a cartesian cultural community could be interpreted as yet another new-age manifesto. On the other hand, it can be read in its relationship to the visibility and invisibility that determines that same community in which the basic phenomena of causality is shortened into the immediacy of the “here and now”, on the information itself that travels faster than matter.

As one of the primary phenomena in nature, magnetism and its idiosyncrasies, invisibility and visible consequences of mutual interactions of elements have for a long time been proofs of magic that belongs to nature, as well as, in its secondary form, to the uniting, communicational and inexplicable human relationships on one hand, and the influence of the cosmic events on the individual (through the researches of astrology, alchemy and magic) on the other hand. If we continue with the analogy between the nature and the human relationships (and in this manner we also read the title of Uršula’s exhibition Attractions), between the personalization of the natural phenomena, the one that human, in order to better understand nature’s actions, has been creating since the beginnings of the civilization, we can remember a sour opinion about the communication in Michel Houellebcq’s book Platform: “Human relationships are not complicated. They are often unsolvable, but not complicated.” If we believe what the writer says (and why, according to our own experiences, wouldn’t we?) then the beauty of the seemingly complex relationships lies exactly in their simple constellation which however we rarely comprehend. Nature, this intelligent mechanism with the infinite forms of manifestations, about which years ago the theory of chaos was controlling, now in the latest scientific researches, that still are not united in their opinion, shows itself as an inherently ordered complex. Chaos and complexity should thus be a part of the “writable” order, of a higher or smaller degree of self-organisation that emerges in an organism and is being translated into more evolved systems.

In the show “writing” of the traces of the iron pieces on the photos, drawings and their continuous forming into the entities according to the movement of the magnets in the object recall potentiality of the movement and appropriating various coincidental forms, movement between the present and the next moment. Brian Massumi talks about the movement of the bodies as of a selection and actualisation of given potentials that exist in a movement, as of a capacity of potentiality that is being realized. Uršula shows the becoming of this selection and actualisation through the process of observation and controlling of the conditions of this becoming in a very low-tech way. Although the effect of the organic is being executed in a style of a computer animation, through using of a video and photographs she questions the perception of the observer who is used to digitalised images of the techniques of the computer manipulation. Uršula also dramaturgically surveys our perception. The expecting view, being amplified by the sound of the cracking of the iron pieces, done in tradition of the concrete music, is awarded by the emerging and frozen forms of the most basic pieces of attraction and beauty.

Igor Španjol: Attractions

Within the postmedial constellation of modern painting the work of Uršula Berlot carries a special weight and meaning. At first sight her production follows the tradition of modernism and seems to falls within a stream which is characterized by a different aspect of picture, namely: it stands out from its surrounding, mainly expressed through individually and poetically treated natural phenomena. However, this is not simply a traditional response to temptations of this modern world or a retreat from reality, but a conscious artistic decision, a special upgrading of the painting tradition, which is made possible on account of an abundance of new technologies of production and distribution of images, which profoundly changed the way a picture is comprehended and also paved the way for the development of an original artistic expression.

The artist’s masterly treatment is based upon a reduction of picture for the sake of picture’s transparency or interest in light. In her creation there is a reaction to physical and chemical processes and material in its elementary state. This results in a special effect: despite the flatness of the surface, the picture seems to spread out into space. Space is essential at various levels as an imaginary and subjective interspace of relations. Somewhere between the picture and the object such setting up, dominated by light, surpasses the traditional definitions of what is material, they exist on the hardly percievable border between the inside and the outside, the material and immaterial, or rather between illusion and the virtual. The technological process of creation itself is saddled between the artificial and the natural, with the proocess of gravitation playing a major role. It is not so much a formal painting exploration, but rather a technological view of nature in our contemporary society, documented in industrial materials and established upon theories of perception of the visible and the material in time and space.

The latest research within the artist’s already distinguished paradigm has brought a few novelties. In the field of phisical laws the stress is on experimentig with magnetism and as far as the complex levels of her works of art are concerned, it is the temporal dimension which dominates. It is therefore not surprising that the artist made use of the medium of video as well. A spacial extension of the magnetic axis, bearing the moving impression of the chosen substance is on one hand a continuation of optical research, but on the other hand it introduces an interesting treatment within the visual field of the author’s video. There are marvelous minimal scenes, connecting elements from real material things with fanciful allusions. They might deceive us, giving the impression of being made digitally while in reality, they are made by hand, following the tradition of previous projects and therefore based upon the principle of supervised coincidence, without any direct interference with the process of creation. With usual material the artist creates lifelike landscapes, which serve as new scenes of her exploration. Since these shots give effect at the level of experimental cinemas, it is often difficult to understand that they were made in a completely new way. While the new, highly sophisticated film and video production is based mainly on spectacular effects, action and dialogue in order to reach the viewer, the abstract futuristic video of Uršula Berlot confirm that a powerful artistic impression can still be achieved by using simple physical techniques and a genuine interplay of visual sequences.

Attractions – catalog [PDF]