Supposedly animated at one time by a joke – instead of a shem, Kolektiv presides over the audience with its nomadic, blue underlit, contemplating eye and, first of all, becomes a representation or a mediation of an interface. Kolektiv – with its Prague members’ base – sees itself as “an open platform for the collaboration of authors of algorithmic visuals and electronic musicians” that “organizes the series of improvised performative situations with a mutable format varying from concert performances to the installations in the gallery spaces”.
The most usual form of presentation is still the performative, concert form of a contribution endorsing an informed prosumership of the higher class, which, however, gets to be expressed not as much as manifesto or appeal but as a subliminally functioning concept – on top of it and in the long term supported by the echo of many scholarly, pedagogical, curatorial, publishing and other creative activities of its individual members.
The collective live audiovisual production “where every participant intervenes in the presentations of the others in the realtime applying the principle of technological and social feedback“ thus refers, with afrayed edge of the manifest framework, to a wider context and history of the so-called live coding. Showing a form of fine art, musical or even light choreographies, it’s a creative activity based on writing of the source code of the instruments not just for the musical production in parallel with artwork’s real-time presentation and on a simultaneous visualization of this code in a form textual or visual interface or, alternatively, through another visualization of the (audio) data. But in the practice of live coding, the screening of a desktop with the code being grown, branched and rewritten has first and foremost an ideal if not an outright ideological function of laying stress on the transparency of the running processes in relation to the perceived artwork. This “alienation effect” then significantly distinguishes the live coding from the VJ performance format.
Had Kolektiv had an avatar it would be its very own ethos. An uncontrolled vertical of curiosity with an amused passion crossing and rippling the surface of calm, pensive cognizance… invigorated by the will to error with its creative potential, but, in consequence, also by the utopian imperative “start from scratch”… with a number of individual, unconscious fascinations, fads and ready-to-use automatisms backed-up somewhere in the bone marrow and activated together with the user-friendly interface of computer programming environment and languages with copyleft licence (Pure Data, SuperCollider). Its bonding rite of affirmation of open systems, i.e. open source software and tools for collaboration and code sharing, naturally mirrors itself on multiple registers of the group’s operation and Kolektiv, in itself, sort of embodies, in the end, this ideological fundament – with a declared fluid crew, which can at times materialize even such a paradoxical equation such as 1 = collective. Our <var kolektiv, member; kolektiv = (x..y); member = kolektiv [n];>.
And yet, Kolektiv doesn’t foster any mimicries; on the contrary, it operates rather like a meme – discernible in a collage of arbitrary environment or context, which it absorbs and comments upon in a singular, identifiable way. Under a bridge, on stairs, in a train, in a forest, at a railway station, in a passageway, in a flat and, finally, also in a gallery or at a festival, there is a live collaborative media self-reflection taking place enacted as a performative, self-referential gesture. The gesture that is undoubtedly functional and that at the same time in an exemplary way presents the line of demarcation according to Kittler: between alphanumerical elite and computer illiterate (as a hostage of corporations). Its result and effect, however,transformthemselves necessarily and quite deeply depending on the nature and information literacy of a viewer.
However candid is the disenchantment of the shiny black boxes with their silently running processes, it can be perceived at the same time as an inconsequent step unmasking only a little more than the surface coat of the unproblematised, i.e. inscrutable, pitch black fundaments, or, to the contrary, as a spectacular magic trick “using the live coding creating the instruments of sound and image right before the viewers’ eyes”, which, for the sake of the thing, meaning the magical effect, balances again and again on the edge between a light mystery and the understanding. However, the live coding scene is confronted with the pertinent illegibility or even the paradoxical illusiveness of its own anti-illusory gesture just like it used to be the case of certain schools of experimental film and other avant-gardes, which had thematised the nature and conditions of their own creation by applying the very methods of recursion.
Finally, the collective ethos – in spite of this confrontation – ends up being credible and appreciable and seen in the last instance as if sideways. Meaning in relation to the aforementioned individual activities of its members that cannot go unnoticed in a given environment and which testify to a consistent and deep interest in the ideas and issues that converge in live coding sessions but also hide in the coordinated and at the same time reproduced chaos. Be it lectures or workshops focused on various software and hardware open source projects, open (film) labs or even a theatre directing which refuses both fiction and documentary, when it formulates its starting points, in order to allow the real social process composed of live performing irregular group of performers and game elements of non-diegetic character and explicitly alienating character to play out. Our <member = kolektiv [n];> works here naturally with the fact that it is the relationship, rilato or relation what essentially defines a collective, and therefore also its charm that could hardly ever be programmed.
Translation: Palo Fabuš