2002, Small Gallery – Museum of Modern Art Ljubljana, Slovenia

Luka Omladic

An object by Ursula: a monochromatic shadowy image drawn on a white screen, on the floor or on the wall, by reflected light shining though deformed and corrugated Plexiglass. This shadowy image creates the impression of the third dimension and appears to be material – a shadowy perspective created by accumulation of transparencies, reflections and shadows. The ‘image’ clearly appears as a projection, as a projection process> the object demands that we pay attention to its double structure, the relationship between the basic Plexiglass transparency and the non-material light reflection.

We begin reading the object by following the artist’s instructions. Ursula says that she is interested in the intelligence of nature: ‘Intelligence can be defined as an ability to combine different tools in order to achieve goal, as an ability to constitute and use mechanisms that fascinate sustainability and survival. According to this definition, intelligence is not awareness. If it is not mandatory for intelligent acts to be conscious, can the unconscious animate and inanimate systems be intelligent?’ The expression ‘intelligent systems’ is not something strange: we find it both in connection with car brakes and art projects which more or less successfully employ new technology. But Ursula’s object does not belong in this category, it is not a cybernetic artefact. This object is, however, a reply to the cybernetic question, to the question of the production of intelligence, but unlike the techno-art hybrids, it does so in a conventional, mimetic way – it is a reflection, a representation.

What is then the answer? The second important piece of information revealed by Ursula during a conversation is the notion of sublimation in the sense of the physical process of a direct transition from solid to the gaseous state. The production of intelligence is some kind of sublimation, a dualism without the intermediate link and not a mechanism. The transition from the silent Plexiglass matter to the organic shadowy image is discrete and not linked. There is no lever between the two, only empty space without any awareness. It is the space of the subject.

In short, while technology produces intelligence by creating intelligent mechanisms, thinking machines or cognitive models, this object represents indelible dualism. Can systems be intelligent? Yes, they can, as reflections.

Natasa Petresin

‘The molecular biology nowadays claims that 97% of DNA is disfunctional and names it "junk DNA", thus proving its ignorance and unwillingness to confront with the unknown.’
Jeremy Narby, The Cosmic Serpent, 1998.

To understand and personalize the nature at least partially, we have enchained it into web of scientific laws. Nevertheless, the nature consists of histories of mistakes, deviations, mutations and unexpected events that have again and again produced new forms, different views on state of the art and life itself. These constant shifts and moves have lead the science from believing in existence of the chaos to the claim that the chaos represents an ordered entity. When observed from a larger distance, each little detail or a newly discovered coincidence has a function.

In her art works, Ursula Berlot is observing the influences of these so called coincidences and the results that uncontrolled processes cause. Her own "confronting the unknown" in the form of creative openness to the characteristics of the used materials (artificial … and plexi glass) and to the gravity laws has brought her Ursula to an abstract visual language. She is complementing it with the scientific terminology and analogies, drawn from the processes occurring in the nature. Her compositions are not subjected to the previously defined schemes. While looking at them the viewer can encounter abstracted ground plans, paysages, microorganismic structures. The forms are suggestive and based on our own memory constructions about the nature’s appearance.

Ursula reintroduces this indeterminacy, one of the key elements of the abstraction, through thorough setting up of art objects in the space and using of the light. The objects do not end with the contours of their material substance, they are "open works", extending themselves into the immaterial sphere with the interplay of the material and its shadow. In the ambiences that are being constructed a passage from physical matter to its untouchable presence is realised. Indirectly also a passage from three-dimensional to four-dimensional field occurrs, the latter being constituted by time based phenomenon of the light and the viewer’s perception process. In communicating with the art work, the viewer is an active part who puts his/her experience into an order and adapts the unknown to the known.