Marko Peljhan

From Utopian Determinism to Network-Centric Paradigms

Date 4/18/05

Affiliation Artist, University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara


Marko Peljhan will present a a critical overview of the aesthetic, political and legal aspects of his MAKROLAB project (1997-2007). The conceptual work on the Makrolab project started in 1994 during the Yugoslav civil wars with the purpose of establishing an independent and self sufficient performance and research structure in isolation as an outpost for Utopian removal, survival and a critical reflection of the extreme and entropic societal conditions in which the author and his collaborators found themselves.

The first phase was realized in 1997 during the Documenta X exhibition in Kassel and it has since evolved in remote and isolated areas of Scotland, Australia, Slovenia, Italy, and Finland, with future setups and developments planned for India, Nunavut, and finally, in 2007, the Antarctic.

The three dynamic zones of research and inquiry that Makrolab is focused on are telecommunications, climate change and migration patterns. The primary thesis is that a unified theory for these fields will emerge from the project's insulation/isolation strategies, a method combining conscious physical, geographical, and political isolation on one hand, and a communications, close proximity and sensor/processor saturation, coupled with energy and biospheric autonomy on the other.

Makrolab is envisioned not only as an architectural and engineering development process, but also as a highly networked sensor/processor and data aggregation and reflection system, with distinct mapping capabilities and future capability projections, such as the use of sensor carrying UAV's, autonomous robotic probes and full spectrum communications capabilities. On the social level, it provides a living and working environment of close proximity, shared knowledge and responsibility among the crew members.

The presentation will discuss the Utopian roots of the project connected to the work of the Russian futurian Velimir Khlebnikov, the development of the architecture and autonomy systems, telecommunications infrastructure, tactical media initiatives related to the project and the plans for the future and final set up of a transnational research facility and base and the corresponding network centric infrastructure in the Dronning Maudland area of Antarctica. One of the main driving principles behind the project, the s.c. CONVERSION (military-civilian-military) will be discussed in detail.


Marko Peljhan is currently Assistant Professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara and as the director of Projekt Atol. He was born 1969 in Sempeter pri Gorici in Slovenia and studied theater and radio directing at the University of Ljubljana. In 1992 he 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 and, in 1999, he founded the Projekt Atol Flight Operations branch of this organization. In 1995, he co-founded one of the first open access digital media labs in Eastern Europe in Ljubljana and from 1996 on he worked at LJUDMILA (Ljubljana Digital Media Lab) as programs coordinator. He is also the coordinator of the international INSULAR TECHNOLOGIES initiative and the MAKROLAB project and from 1999 on he served as the flight director of seven art and science related parabolic flights with the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Moscow. In 2001, he became member of the strategic council for information society established by the government of the Republic of Slovenia and in the same year he also coordinated the production of a mobile media lab initiative, Transhub-01, which was first realized a Mobilatorij in 2002 and now travels southeastern Europe. His work was presented at major international exhibitions and institutions such as documenta X in Kassel, the 2nd Johannesburg Biennale, Ars Electronica, Media City Seoul, Gwangju Biennale, ZKM, Manifesta, Transmediale, Canon Artlab, P.S.1 MoMA , the New Museum and Venice Biennale. In 2000, he received the special Medienkunst prize at the ZKM and in 2001 the Golden Nica Prix Ars Electronica together with Carsten Nicolai for their work Polar. In 2004 Makrolab was awarded the second prize of the Unesco Digital Media Art Award.

-- As of 4/18/05

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