kvaka 22
Ruzveltova 39, Belgrade
2-10 December, 2022

Nem Askovic performing Second nature—post-digital multi-impressionism—to prove that through simulation of nature one can create new nature


make artificial landscapes using readymade gaming technology. The landscape—in the form of a playable game level—is then projected on a big gallery wall. I 'walk' through this artificial environment and observe. When I find an interesting visual angle I pause the game. I take my brushes and perform the painting process. I paint from direct observation like a traditional plein-air artist. The game engine keeps running and the weather system continues simulating, so I work as fast as I can trying to 'catch the light.’ Despite the time limit, I try to stay as true as possible to the visual likeness of the scene. I attach the finished painting to the gallery wall. For seven days I perform the same process, multiple times a day. I make 28 paintings—4 paintings per day.

Above: Gapscapes, 2022, performance timelapse in the gallery where performans took place

On the eighth day the projector goes off and lights go on. Only the artefacts of the performance stay on the wall. They look like representational paintings, only with the 'catch' that they had nothing to do with the physical world. To an uninformed observer these might seem as painted from nature.

In fact I'd like to claim that these painted objects of art indeed are nature. I follow Baruch Spinoza in believing that humans and our actions are expressions of nature. Act of physical creation is fundamentally a natural process, and its product is an object of nature. Through this process my practice revokes the separation of nature from technology. Under persistent observation, the artificial begins to move. It opens up through the gaze of the artist. Suppressed nature finds its voice and gives back to nature what belongs to it. It gives back to nature what is taken from it by technological abstraction. By setting up this circular process I try to prove that through simulation of nature one can create new nature.

Above: Gapscapes, 2022, view, installation in the gallery where performans took place

NOTE: The virtual landscape is a location of my childhood trauma. It's reconstructed through forensic exploration of memory. While exploring a mental image our mind jumps from one detail to another. It never sees the whole image. Only flashes. As in dreams, the details disappear in the moment they appear. Using digital technology I can sculpt the inner landscape, detail after detail. In the way a police artist accumulates details to reconstruct the face of a perpetrator. Afterwards I see it as if I'm standing in front of it. I paint the landscape using my senses, or so-called 'left side of the brain' — without the need to use any intellect.

Above: Gapscapes, 2022, performance documentary, HD video, colour, sound, 0.45 minutes, 1080 x 1920 px, 30 fps.

Above: Gapscapes, 2022, polyptych, 28 pieces, oil on canvas, total 223 x 391 cm, each piece 55 x 55 cm, alternative ‘web gallery’ installation view.