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ROM Conversion to Polar Landscapes – A Landscape for the Third Culture

Marko Peljhan

Wednesday May 16th 12.30-2pm — ACE Teleseminar Room

The critical issue facing art and science is the lack of communication and real exchange between these two fields. The building up of a common knowledge base and the systems of interaction (interdisciplinarity) would finally establish each of these discrete knowledge fields as permanent and stable partners to the other. In general, the push towards interdisciplinarity between these creative fields is still resisted in the academy at large and at the level of political decision making (where it would be useful for scientific and artistic strategies to be considered within policy making).
Engineering and science on the one hand, and creative arts and humanities on the other are, at their best, instrumental at setting the path of evolution of knowledge. They all feed human curiosity and vision, but together, as a synergy, they would make a remarkable planetary evolutionary force. However, this synergy will never happen if we do not slowly reconstruct a common history, reflecting on these fields from a new perspective and thereby creating a basis for a common future path.
In my work, I try to bridge this divide, which is real and a lot of the time hidden behind a well-rehearsed rhetoric of acquiescence to established norms that have less to do with the visionary energy of science and art and more to do with the preservation of the status quo of capital and inherited or assumed power. Of course, it goes without saying, that the current dispensation still does not support the possibility of this synergy, both in political and economic terms, and consequently a shift in priorities and attitudes will have to be effected if we want to maximize the creative potential of both fields. There are many ways in which synergy can be achieved, one of these is to build communication systems which foster exchange, both in terms of hardware and content. Last but not least, I strongly believe in the individual dimension of these group interactions. It is necessary to build a culture of activism amongst arts and science practitioners if synergies are to be established and fostered, when and wherever possible. The debate revolves around a change of culture and a creation of a new, third, synergetic creative culture, built on the experience and knowledge of the visionaries of past centuries and fuelled by our own twin forces of curiosity and responsibility.


Marko Peljhan was born in 1969 and studied theatre and radio directing at the University of Ljubljana and in 1992 founded the arts organization Projekt Atol in the frame of which he works in the performance, visual arts, situation and communications fields. In 1995 he founded the technological branch of Projekt Atol PACT SYSTEMS, which started by creating an online satellite navigation urban interface project, the UCOG-144 and in 1999 he founded the Projekt Atol Flight Operations, which serves as the organizational branch for flight and
spaceflight related projects. In 1995 he co-founded LJUDMILA (Ljubljana Digital Media Lab), and from 1996 on worked at there as programs coordinator. He coordinates the Insular Technologies high frequency global radio network imitative and the Makrolab (1997-2007) project and works as flight director of the parabolic art/science flights with the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre in Moscow and the MIR – Microgravity Interdisciplinary Research consortium. From 2001 to 2004 he was member of the strategic council for information society established by the government of the Republic of Slovenia. In 2003 he created a
mobile containerized media lab-media literacy project, Transhub-01/Mobilatorij. His work was presented at major international exhibitions such as documenta X in Kassel, 2nd Johannesburg Biennale, Ars Electronica, Media City Seoul, Gwangju Biennale, Manifesta, Venice Biennale and ISEA. In 2000 he received the Medienkunst prize at the ZKM, in 2001 the Golden Nica, together with Carsten Nicolai for their work Polar and in 2004 the Unesco Digital Media Art Award for Makrolab. He is currently associate professor of interdisciplinary studies in Art and Media Arts and Technology at UC Santa Barbara and director of Projekt Atol, where he also initiated the music label rx:tx. From 2005 on, he is coordinating the design and utilization projects for the final Arctic and Antarctic Makrolab related projects in the framework of the Interpolar Transnational Art and Science Constellation.

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