Hi Joana,

This project sounds really interesting!  There is something missing from or overlooked in the now-standard model of a building in which special objects exist that are visited by viewers in a kind of circulatory way.  Clearly there were and still are obvious reasons for such a quasi-Newtonian idea of aesthetic space, time, energy, and matter, so to speak.  Yet there can also be unfortunate error and omission when the conventional model is overtaxed during times of crisis or urgent adaptation.

I like the idea of "liquid authorship" mentioned at the Centre's site and the practice of guilds or artistic groups collaborating to create activity in four-month increments.  These practices would seem to slow down to a perceptible scale what races so rapidly in electronic culture without proclaiming an unhelpful and counterfactual state of stasis.  Combining diverse disciplines also makes reality somehow more manifest. 

As to reducing energy use in order to make its usage visible, felt, and conscious, I think that is also a great way to call attention to the very fundamental flows (resources, emissions, costs, customs, habit) that merge into what we think of as de rigeur indoor climate.  The Centre itself seems to thus operate something like a weathervane perhaps, the old-fashioned (and often artistic) measuring instrument placed atop buildings in former times and still very much in use.  The concept seems to draw what is so easily ignored or invisible into the "frame" of activity so to speak, very tangibly, and in so doing also project the "internal" aesthetic activity into the outer and external environment.  Both of these changes to the perception of place and structure in artistic creation seem to suspend strict control or engineered determinacy in favor of awareness -- the precondition of any kind of choice at all, aesthetic or otherwise.  There is a balanced, minimal tension and subtle sense of stillness within motion, almost like bodily proprioception, in this which is often the main stratum of art.

My own recent emphasis on a single painting might seem very divergent from such themes, but I see the Mona Lisa actually quite closely parallel in many ways.  Of course due to the physical fragility and unreproducible character of the painting as an object it has to be kept indoors, out of the elements, in a relatively fixed location nonetheless large enough for millions of people to move past it almost continuously.  Yet I do not believe that its content means to unquestioningly praise such a state of affairs, or shows or advocates a static or Newtonian kind of aesthetic space, especially seen in the flow of historical time -- i.e. relative to what it was surrounded by, what informed its production, and what followed after it (both by designed intent and unforeseeable chance).  It almost seeks by its strangeness to rather articulate convention as a choice, a thing in motion, almost as iodine or barium sulfate accentuate structures in an X-ray.  Many of the beliefs and "structures" which Leonardo saw as incorrectly defined as fixed are arguably portrayed in the ML as in motion, and the phenomena thought in his time to be static or essential are portrayed as in flux, change, and metamorphosis.  Also, the individual viewer's perception and physical embodiment as viewer is brought in or mirrored, in a continuous "moving stillness," due in part to the visceral link imposed by the direct eye contact which is still a bit disconcerting after five centuries.  

It is standard interpretation nowadays to interpret the sitter as "part of nature," with human hair and veins, lungs and skeleton, mirroring rivers, geology, seas and atmosphere.  This is the ancient microcosm/macrocosm template, but Leonardo went an order of magnitude beyond such a staid equivalency which sadly even modern commentary often reiterates.  He did this by introducing the element of Art (which includes all of the arts and all of the sciences, all technology, engineering, etc.) as an equal third element into the duality of Humanity and Nature.  In doing this he added a dimension that we now take for granted, but we forget its interwovenness with the other two in our headlong quest for more and ever more "powerful" tech.  This is why I think it is so important to see Art in the largest sense as also portrayed, as at least an equal and fully interconnected sphere, in the portrait by way of not just the fact of its artifice as a painted, "built" object but in the flowing and naturalized, yet clearly technological phenomena of the bridge and the garment.  The sitter, Esperienza, becomes a living and lived phenomenon which integrates Art, Nature, and Humanity in mutually defined and influenced processes which flow in concrete time and space; and by our own identification with the sitter the viewer is also placed in a similar role.  Perhaps in a sense Art as such is in the ML, if I understand the theme sufficiently, in both senses: "exposar no exposar-se and exposar-se no exposar."  

To highlight this model of unaccustomed relation of elements for us Leonardo declared quite plainly that Experience (Esperienza) can be personified as "the interpreter between formative nature and the human race", i.e. an observational and perceptual reality, as well as "the common mother of all the sciences and arts which suggests a more active, imaginative, and constructing form of method.  

In any case, I think your project sounds excellent and appreciate your sharing it here!

Very best regards,


From: NetBehaviour <netbehaviour-bounces@lists.netbehaviour.org> on behalf of Joana Moll via NetBehaviour <netbehaviour@lists.netbehaviour.org>
Sent: Thursday, September 30, 2021 4:52 AM
To: Netbehaviour NEW <netbehaviour@lists.netbehaviour.org>
Cc: Joana Moll <freeautomatisms@posteo.net>
Subject: [NetBehaviour] What would happen if art institutions would work with energy budgets?

Dear all, (apologies for cross-posting)

I'm happy to announce 16/2017, a new project that forces "Centre d’Arts Santa Mònica", a major art center in Barcelona, to cut its energy use by 50% during 4 months. Or in other words: to radically limit the use of air conditioning, lights and flights among other variables.

16/2017 is named after a law approved by the government of Catalonia in 2017, which, among other things, obliges the government to work with carbon budgets in order to halve its Co2 emissions by 2030, as stated in the Paris Agreement. Unfortunately, the Catalan government is substantially delaying the application of these measures, or in other words, the law is currently not being applied. Therefore, the artist has proposed to the Centre d’Arts Santa Mònica to reduce its energy expenditure by 50% during the four months-long exhibition "Exposar · No exposar-se · Exposar-se · No exposar" . Thus, the museum will have to define a self-energy regulation mechanism to avoid exceeding the budget during the length of the exhibition. Or in other words, all the actors involved in the exhibition project will have to negotiate new methods of social interaction to stick to the energy budget.

To achieve this goal, we have set up weekly meetings to negotiate and define the energy budget of the exhibition, and correct its possible deviations. These meetings are open to the public, the members of the management team of the museum, and all those agents involved with the exhibition. The piece is also built around a mural graph that will be filled in according to the weekly meetings and their agreements. This graph will indicate the energy expenditure agreed during the weekly negotiations, such as how many hours the building’s air conditioning will work or the number of hours that the exhibition lights will be turned on, among other variables.

In a context of climate emergency, where the scarcity of resources will intensify in the coming decades, elaborating proposals capable of articulating human activities around limited energy resources, is a necessary exercise to favor new cultural rituals which are more consistent with our contemporary climatic conditions.

Full PR here: https://janavirgin.com/PR/16_2017_premsa_en.pdf

Exhibition site: https://artssantamonica.gencat.cat/en/detall/Exposar-No-exposar-se-Exposar-se-No-exposar 

Best wishes,

Joana Moll

Joana Moll

Critical Interface Politics

Institute for the Advancement of Popular Automatisms