DemoKino - Virtual Biopolitical Agora

Welcome to today's voting session
a note from the editors

This textual and pictorial reader is more than just documentation of an art project. It combines contributions by theorists and a photocomic created from the original project's texts and visuals by Dejan Dragosavac Ruta to reflect on the proposition of Janez Janša's DemoKino - Virtual Biopolitical Agora. DemoKino - Virtual Biopolitical Agora is an anti-entertainment interactive film that develops according to the audience members' vote. Inspired in part by the "pianisti" scandal in the Italian Parliament when a number of senators were filmed voting for their absent colleagues via the electronic voting system, DemoKino is a virtual parliament which through filmic parables, following one protagonist's rethinking of the ethical dilemmas placed before us, provides the spectators come voters/participants with the opportunity to decide on issues that are, paradoxically, becoming the essence of modern politics: the questions of life - abortion, cloning, therapeutic cloning, water privatization, copyleft, euthanasia, genetically modified organisms, same sex marriage.

After DemoKino was published in a number of formats - as web-based streaming, as live film presentation, on television with televoting provided, as a DVD that may be rented from a local shop and as a radio broadcast, no medium seemed left out. This reader was initiated not with an idea to reformat the artistic project to print form, or to approach it solely from a critical or analytical perspective, but with an idea to contextualize, to reframe the wider cultural and political environment DemoKino appears in, providing a theoretical, artistic and social context. To ask: who is the one who performs? The lone protagonist of the film or the spectator who becomes engaged in a strategy of making visible, even obvious, not just the button pushing of the Italian senators, but the deceptive liberty of the spectator to freely navigate through the film interactively, as a member of a virtual democratic body.

Bojana Kunst examines the moment "when the issue of life enters the political arena and modern politics becomes biopolitics [and] the democratic decision reaches an impasse: in the political arena laws are being debated on issues that can actually tolerate no decisions and any kind of majority rule is problematic in itself, any political regulation a publicly legitimated act of violence."

Aldo Milohnić discusses the limitations of political representation by analyzing the structure of DemoKino as a virtual agora and a kind of exercise in direct democracy, thus questioning the power of argument vs. the power of representation. Voloshinov / Bakhtin´s notion of dialogism offers a productive conceptual framework for such a theoretical operation.

Italy being only a symptom of what happens when we push to an extreme the media manipulation of "televised democracy" realized by Silvio Berlusconi. Procedural failure of political representation and subsequent critical reflection may lead one to ask if democracy has been reduced to formal ceremony.

When reading Paradoxes of Democracy by Antonio Caronia, the author of the original DemoKino screenplay and texts argumenting the issues, we can ponder if, in an environment where new information and communication technologies allow everyone to be directly connected in real time, the authoritarian imposition of democratic decision-making through the representational democracy of the parliamentary system should impregnate contemporary daily life or should the transformations of the production and circulation of knowledge due to the advent of digital technologies result in possible new political forms, in social transformation?

Petar Milat's contribution draws on biopolitical theory and rethinks Agamben´s notion of disbando to address "community", its bonds and burdens, the presumptions and praxis of "communing", the life in the state of Empire.

And yet, how much of our sublime-subversion image is just a pose? Is the copy of Empire on our coffee table, read and reread, bookmarked and underlined, quoted from on appropriate occasions, just acceptance of a certain lifestyle? Using the motif of a traveler, Leonardo Kovacević is read with gusto, as if passing one's eyes over a foreign landscape.

Marina Gržinić is critical of today's art institutions and art projects produced in the capitalist first world, their unbearable abstraction and the need of the capitalist engine to possess new forms of production and expressions of creativity. The emergence of political art in Slovenia in the 1980s was shortly followed by its kidnapping, being taken hostage by the communist political party then in power and released only when it was already symbolically dead. The evacuation of resistance from creativity is closely followed by a full sensualization of the capitalist processes of abstraction, a sensualization of emptiness.

Tomislav Medak reflects on the immance of notion of democracy's corruption to democracy itself, on the inner workings of its inability to create procedural limits on decision making power as a consequence of singularities of life constantly finding its way into the midst its parliamentary procedural set up, on democracy as tainted by media as a true voice of democracy, on democracy's power to pass decisions on what it cannot decide upon, ultimately on the democracy understood not as an assembly, but positively as a dissassembly.

This textual and pictorial reader would not be complete without making the full round back to an interview with Janez Janša conducted by Domenico Quaranta.

We wish you a successful session.

Ivana Ivkovic and Janez Janša

DemoKino - Virtual Biopolitical Agora

TRANSformacije series, book no. 19
Series edited by Janez Janša

Published by
Maska Ljubljana
Institute for Publishing, Production and Education

Head of Publishing: David Ožura
Metelkova 6, SI-1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
e-mail: publications[AT]maska[DOT]si

Institute for Contemporary Arts

Head of Publishing: Marcela Okretič
Gerbiceva 23, SI-1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
e-mail: aksioma[AT]aksioma[DOT]org

Texts and images copyright by authors and artists.

English language edited by Susana Jakopec (texts), Jana Wilkoxen (photocomics)
Cover design, layout & prepress by Dejan Dragosavac Ruta

Photocomics based on visual material and texts of the project DemoKino - Virtual Biopolitical Agora by Janez Janša. Photocomics design by Dejan Dragosavac Ruta.

  The photocomics are published under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 2.5 license. For more details click on the CC logo.

Films by Alten d.o.o.
Printed by Cicero

Ljubljana, Slovenia, February 2006

Circulation: 500 copies
DemoKino - Bills >>>_
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