Electronic reality embodies inconsistent, and for the viewer often illegible symbols and processing systems. It is through intentions based on experience and elements of real-world application that we try to research and become familiar with it. These technological allegories however serve only as moveable references and depict a given area only partially and often in a distorted manner. Similarly incomprehensible - as is the whole sphere of virtual constructs – is Mrkus‘ work. It too is desirable and attractive, at first sight rational and transparent, but in reality it is far from providing clear judgements. In his works too we come across an intersection of the micro-world with macro-wholes that are, as a result, infinitely similar and function on analogical principles. The same holds for the intergrowth of reality and fiction or rather the ambiguous relationship between manipulative methods and interaction. In his projects Pavel Mrkus also works with the aesthetic of accidents and the causality of further chain reactions, which reference research methods seldom applied in the fields of sociological research or the theory of visual communication. Beyond these often-conflicting connotations relating to societal processes in the globalised world or technological approaches in the contemporary digital culture, the leitmotif of Mrkus‘ creations consists of evoking spiritual principles. With non-conflictual stubbornness the artist seeks out and applies elements of cyberspace spirituality to artistic projects. He subconsciously compares this spirituality to principles of ”analogue“ world transcendence. Similarly to how Eastern religious systems became the philosophical point of reference for the work of early Conceptualists, they represent (in a permeation with traditional Christian spirituality) in many ways a docking point for the cosmic odyssey of this Czech artist.
Efforts to dematerialise works of art in Mrkus‘ case consist of releasing a sort of rare spiritual essence: one that is so fragile that is can only with great difficulty become part of a permanent foundation. The artist has systematically, if not obsessively, devoted himself to this process for a number of years now. Whether this involves his cultivated, monochromatic paintings, installations, digital prints or sophisticated video-projections, their means of transmission always represents a medium without which the fundamental immanent concept (in the form of thought or actual software) could not be started.
In the case of the central interactive video-installation at the exhibit in the Galleria Contemporaneo Mestre – Venice called Space Walk (2006) photos played the role of certain unique communication mediators enabled by frames, which – a little bit furtively and certainly conspiratively – connected images of space officially distributed by NASA with an elegiacally serene micro-story about a specific resident of an individual universe. In the video-installation Iris (2008), they then fall on satellite dishes, which shaped like convex, bent projection screens carry out the function of electromagnetic ray collectors: fully-diluted information from the jungle of the media world. Similar to his previous projects, both the texts of scholastics or Buddhist sutras as well as the agency summaries from internet news servers flying around in the form of transcendental and numerical data through the virtual and concrete space of our everyday lives became the inspiration for the creation of both works.
The Czech art scene functions to a large degree as a special Central European loner with its own special references and specificities. On the whole though Pavel Mrkus gives the impression of being an exception. He naturally joins Czech cultural tradition with Eastern spiritual influences, the inconsistent essence of post-democratic globalisation and the similarly dynamic chaos of the electronic virtual dimension. Better known abroad than on the domestic scene, this artist creates an important connecting link between two still insufficiently compatible worlds.
Commission in architecture
1998 Czech Center, Brussels, Belgium
Günter Bartoš: SANQUIS č.183/2010, str. 16, www.sanquis.cz/index1.php