A laboratory and nomadic project, radical : vaguely brings together artists from distant parts of the world (Canada and Bulgaria) who belong to a generation that grew up during the Cold War, lived the actual lifting of the Iron Curtain, and is currently experiencing the boom of new technologies and the globalization process. radical : vaguely investigates the waves of fundamental changes in our socio-political, economic, cultural and ecological environment. radical : vaguely is creative research into the depths of the here and now through art-making, a universe having at its core the potential to discover topologies and temporalities2 that can open new perspectives and expand our perceptions of reality, and consequently allow creative transformation and constructive growth to occur from within.3
The theme explores the artists' individual search for authenticity in the present through the making of art. It creates a common ground for artists who, from different cultural backgrounds and remote places of the world, are carrying out a personal investigation into the nature of authenticity today, who are examining its cultural, socio-political and psychological strata through the experience of an unfamiliar yet interconnected situation. Some of the principal similarities in these artists' works are the practice of risk, improvisation, and inventiveness.
The purposes of this approach to art-making can be found in the desire to break free from stereotypes gone stale and from stagnant frames of reference that are cloistering our being in the world now, and to clear the noise that shrouds our clarity and awareness in the experience of the present. The distinguishing characteristics one can observe in the artistic practice of the artists participating in radical : vaguely include the recurrent choice of negotiation over speculation in the communicative aspects and in the ends of the creative process, and a devotion to depth over superficiality in a situation of in-betweenness that stems from a rapidly changing, varied reality in perpetual transition. In this sense, these artists' art-making manifests itself as a commitment to eradicating falsehood in order to see anew, to open new perspectives and to reach a sense of wholeness and truthfulness.
radical : vaguely casts an ironic perspective on the defeatist voices proclaiming that art has failed as a revolutionary force, that the use of new technologies in art has failed to radically change society and the course of events. The very premise that art itself can immediately institute a revolution, or radical change for that matter, is erroneous, for art will then cease to be itself.4 Art is in fact a laboratory where one can create a renewed sense of being by releasing vital content and shaping new vital entities. This renewal is the necessary ground for fundamental change in a process that starts with a leap into the unknown and ends in a continuous shaping and reforming at the heart of the work. In this laboratory, through a process of clearing and unveiling, there takes place an awakening of the authenticity of being, which is a revolution a revolution as a constant revolving around an axis, revolving along the tender spiral of creation, a continuous, recurring evolution5 a revolution of the self first. This process may unfold in ways that are invisible, yet reverberate on innumerable planes and facets of existence.
In these respects, the thread connecting the artists' individual creative research in radical : vaguely is a network consciousness rooted in the personal, in a rhizome-like lucidity about the present moment and the individual's role as a creative agent in the act of weaving the tapestry of the here and now. Originating from and working in different cultural contexts, these artists demonstrate in their works a profound involvement in the concerns of the present and in understanding the deeper meanings of the new components that enter into today's reality; they compose with and through them. The unifying principle in the participants' artwork is the interrogation of the very criteria by which contemporary reality is perceived and evaluated. What are the meanings and dimensions of radicalism, of virtual revolutions, of interactivity and interconnectivity in the age of the electronic network? What is the physiognomy of information now?
In today's reality governed as it is by speed and the instant dissemination of information and a constantly, explosively changing environment being, as living, reflecting and creating, is radical and revolutionary to begin with. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the simultaneous occurrence of the I-Bomb phenomenon, as Tom Sherman6 calls the advent of new technologies in our civilization, "revolution" and "radical" may have become inseparable words.7 Their recurrence in contemporary culture is manifestly stretched to such an extent that they are clouded by noise and nearly emptied of their meanings. The term radical unquestionably implies fundamental change, from the roots, and revolution, a radical replacement of one order by another. That being so, must we then call "revolutionary" such futile enterprises as establishing unlimited capitalism or an improved communism?
Revolution is a radical change and change is a disruptive phenomenon, splitting a whole into parts to produce a schize, a gap between before and after, a shredding of both here and there, splintering the spatiotemporal continuum, creating vacuums in the spheres of culture. On the one hand, change serves to expose latent polarities; on the other, it engenders new polarities. For example, we are currently witnessing the coexistence of society's atomization and globalization, often propagated as a reinvention of human destiny comparable to religion and even communism. We cannot ignore globalization's arrival, along with such processes as global warming. Therefore, when we speak about radical change and revolution in the present context (lessons of history in mind), we are confronted with the responsibility of understanding what "radical" means, and of delivering its meanings over and over again. In L'homme révolté, a critical reflection on the idea of revolution throughout human history, Albert Camus affirms that revolution is only possible through and within creation, and creation is a process of continuous striving and evolution.
The artists participating in radical : vaguely produce art which strives to establish meaningful relationships between here and there, before and after, self and the other, between the individual or the community and the world.8 Working within a society heading toward globalization and immersion in information technology, artificial intelligence and genetic engineering, these artists are engaged in lifting the curtains and breaking the barriers of that which is artificial, false and simulative and therefore superfluous in order to illuminate contemporary reality in its many dimensions and bring out creative potential, as well as to understand the vital content of processes and phenomena that are taking place now.
Tendencies toward nihilism and cynicism in contemporary culture, manifesting themselves both in cogitation and in activity, are quickly settling into the gaps created by the waves of change, perpetuating superficiality and evasiveness, a chimerical sliding on surfaces, a maniacal shifting of attention from one screen to another, or clicking from one web page to another. (In other words, the virtual ceases to be virtual and the network is turned into a web of disconnectedness.)
The simulative, artificial roads taken by the parade of radicalism lead into pixel-pulp vagueness that manifests itself as loss of authenticity, as modes of non-participation and, consequently, of resistance to radical change, which in itself is a state of crisis, an opportunity for a fundamental renewal. In such a situation, the function of art-making would lie in stripping away superfluity, in creation that acts as an antidote to the fabrication of lack and incompleteness. It relates disparate things, interconnects and unifies to open new perspectives on reality.
Within the parameters outlined in the above, the project radical : vaguely is a retrospective and critical reflection on dreams and ideals turned illusory and burnt into the revolutionary process itself, on the lack of depth and participation, and on the dissipation of creative intent in the process of transition and transformation.9 An ironical outlook on the futility of radically destroying old (more precisely, the previous) systems and ideologies and erecting new, seemingly better ones in their place. Because truth cannot be held solely by an individual or a group, nor by a system or a particular epoch. However, we all contain its particles and, potentially, can touch its essence in the creative process.
radical : vaguely involves artists who are working in a fluctuating, unstable environment and composing with its elements. It explores creative will as radical in nature, having the potential to transfix the noise while penetrating into the depths of being. The creative process is revelatory in its connection with the authenticity of being. Excess and insufficiency, the surplus and the void produced by change, and by difference, can only be contained and integrated by poetic language. On the one hand, radical : vaguelyis about the relativity of the truths we hold onto; on the other, it is about clarity of intent in the creative process and a readiness to pick up the threads of discontinued existence, to weave the unknown and the unpredictable stuff of being into the fabric of the present.
The present moment imprints itself onto the space-time continuum (the instant intersects with infinity and with eternity) in a chain of rhythmical notations. In the flux of being (and here, radical : vaguely pertains to the illuminating moments of experiencing truth within the flow of being), truth cannot be a final destination, a stasis, but is rather a continuous journey, during which, at precise moments, we arrive at its revelations. radical : vaguely is a reflection on creation, which comes into being in the dreaming, searching, travelling, vagabonding mind, rhythmically punctuated by precise choices and decisions. It is the interplay between contemplation and vigilance, reflection and participation, observation and action.
Rossitza Daskalova, November 2002
French Translation by Gilles Lessard