[ISEA2011] Paper: Olga Kisseleva – CrossWorlds


Session: Cinema after the Digital

‘CrossWorlds’  is a work about political manipulation. It comes from my experience of the both sides of the Berlin Wall.

The most popular part of American propaganda was delivered  through the Hollywood movie’s industry: “What the people believe is true“.  One of the most popular slogans of Soviet propaganda in the same period was “The dreams of the people came true“ – a way to explain to Soviet people that they already got the materialization of the “Hollywood dream”, and that “Each day we live happier!” Susan Buck-Morss  gives a detailed analysis of the similitude between Soviet and American propaganda since the twenties to the end of Cold War.

I’ve built a particular protocol to realize « CrossWorlds ». I’ve selected some of the most popular pictures from the American and Soviet propaganda. I’ve taken seven American and seven Soviet slogans. I’ve encoded each slogan as an electronic tag composed with two pictures – one Soviet and one American. Each tag has a black part and a white part, it can be decoded tanks to this contrast. The slogans are also composed with threats and promises. In each tag one of two slogans represents it’s black part, another one – the white part.

« CrossWorlds » is an interactive program. The program is connected to the NY Stock Echange Server an it generates interactive electronic tags in real time. Each tag contains a slogan from the ideological propaganda of the cold war period. Then Dow Jones goes up, American slogans are encoded. Then Dow Jones goes down, the program takes a slogans from a Soviet database.

  • Olga Kisseleva, Russia/France. Born in St. Petersburg (1965), Olga Kisseleva belongs to the first generation of Russian intelligentsia after Perestroika.  From the middle of the 90s, on the invitation of the Fulbright Foundation she found a roof for her work in the research group which dealt with the development of digital technologies. In 1996 she is getting her PhD and she is invited to teach New Media and Contemporary Art in Sorbonne, where she runs the “Art&Science” international program. Olga Kisseleva’s exhibitions include: Centre Pompidou, KIASMA , Guggenheim Bilbao, National Center for Contemporary Art (Moscow), MOMA (NY), ARC (Paris), Reina Sofia, Venice, Moscow, Dakar, Lyon, Tirana and Istanbul Biennale… The artist Olga Kisseleva’s approach to her work is much the same as a scientist’s. A discrepancy detected during a procedure or within the workings of a structure oblige her to formulate a hypothesis, in order to explain the complication in question, and wherever possible, to propose a solution to the problem.  She then determines the skills necessary to pursue the relative study, and commissions the research. The artist calls upon exact sciences, on genetic biology, geophysics, and also on political and social sciences. She proceeds with her experiments, calculations and analyses, while strictly respecting the methods of the scientific domain in question.  Her artistic hypothesis is thus verified and approved by a strictly scientific method. In each of Olga Kisseleva’s projects, at each stage of its development, from the initial draft (when the context is taken into consideration), until the moment when the indications allowing the esthetic propositions to come to light are gathered together, a line is traced upon which the different elements convened are inscribed.  This way of addressing places and people allows the artist to take on an unusual position, a kind of involvement consisting of questioning, affronting or testing the elements constituting the reality of a situation in which she can borrow from numerous mediations, supports and modes of representation as diverse as the situations themselves.  Yet it still implies, for the viewer as well as the artist, a certain faithfulness to a watchword – vigilance – returning to a principle of responsibility, and implying the establishment of open relationships between the different elements brought into play by esthetic propositions.   kisseleva.org

Full text (PDF) p. 1375-1380