zbyněk baladrán cv

Cognitive maps

exhibition at hunt&kastner artworks, prague, 2009

Cognitive maps – mental maps, guides or models – are a method that we use to construct and store spatial knowledge in our memories, allowing the “mind’s eye” to visualize, code and store information, and then recall, decode and make use of it at a later date, when needed. In 2004, the Czech art historian, David Kulhánek, prefaced his article “The Praxis, Theory and Exposition of Zbyněk Baladrán”, in Umělec magazine, with a quotation by Gilles Delueze: “In art, as in society and the individual, one can find specific maps. Some lines present something, others are abstract. Some are with segments, others without… We think that the lines are constitutional parts of the things and events. Therefore everything has its geography, its cartography, its diagram.” Zbyněk Baladrán has often been described as an archaeologist of knowledge and memory, and he continues to use maps and diagrams in his work as a representational means to visualize concepts, ideas and relations in a structured and clear way. In the video installation Assemblages Against Essences (HD video projection on 10 stacks of white paper), ten constantly changing images are projected onto a surface of ten stacks of blank white paper that represent a dynamic map, as well as a projected model. As the individual images change, new patterns are formed, and then disappear, creating a sort of cosmological model through the ever newly appearing constellations of pictures and drawings. Never static, the overall picture is constantly changing. At times, it seems that the different images are completely random and independent of each other; at other times, they seem to create a pattern when viewed in sequence; and at other times, they all suddenly merge together and form one single, larger picture. The overall result is a mesmerizing assemblage of different images and maps of various dimensions that continually change their character and testimony over time. The identity of the assemblage, throughout all its varying levels and dimensions, is based on the singularity of this process.
In Boundaries of Autonomy (HD video projection and 8 headphones), a wall projection shows a diagram of the human body that is made up of 128 points. One by one, the artist then proceeds to connect each of these individual points, using a pencil and ruler, to one central point, located at the bottom of the projection where the wall meets the floor. Leading out from this central point, onto the gallery floor, are eight long black wires with headphones attached to the ends. On each headphone can be heard a reading from the book “The Nerves of Government: Models of Political Communication and Control“ by Karl W. Deutsch (a prominent Czech-born social and political scientist, known for his quantitative methods and interest in formal system analysis and model thinking). This audio-visual installation is an exercise in defining representational models that describe the subjective perception of individuals, as well as our society as a whole. The diagram only becomes fully in momentum once the viewer, by putting on the headphones, finds themselves physically connected to the drawing in the projection. The repeating gestures of connecting each individual body point to the lower central boundary point, which marks the border between the visual and the audio, fills the viewers’ minds.

Assemblages against Essences

video installation, 10 stacks of A3 paper and HD video projection

In the video installation Assemblages Against Essences (HD video projection on 10 stacks of white paper), ten constantly changing images are projected onto a surface of ten stacks of blank white paper that represent a dynamic map, as well as a projected model. As the individual images change, new patterns are formed, and then disappear, creating a sort of cosmological model through the ever newly appearing constellations of pictures and drawings. Never static, the overall picture is constantly changing. At times, it seems that the different images are completely random and independent of each other; at other times, they seem to create a pattern when viewed in sequence; and at other times, they all suddenly merge together and form one single, larger picture. The overall result is a mesmerizing assemblage of different images and maps of various dimensions that continually change their character and testimony over time. The identity of the assemblage, throughout all its varying levels and dimensions, is based on the singularity of this process.