In Mihael Giba’s contemporary landscapes the tool and the form of creation are undergoing significant updates. The screen has taken on the role of the canvas, the brush has been replaced with a PHP application, the web software which has been gathering data determines the content of the painting, the meanings of individual symbols aren’t given over to the imagination of the public but are strictly programmatically merged with a certain dimension of society or information on it.
These landscapes are therefore neither figurative nor abstract. They are not oil or watercolor paintings but virtual paintings. Through their motifs they do not reveal their author, their atmosphere doesn’t divulge the artist’s background, they don’t tell of his sensibilities. There is no personality, let alone intimacy. On the contrary, the structure of these landscapes is a direct consequence of numbers. Many lovers of more traditional approaches to art will ask ‘Where did the painter go?’. How can you valorize an exhibition in which the pastoral theme illustrates the daily political context and the rural idyll embodies the intensity of crime? How much is a painting worth when the only meaning is ascertained by the dry information of the wall text?
It is precisely the specificity, numerical or any other that has been more than unwelcome in art. It has stood opposite the subjective vision or the author’s interpretation on which the creative nerve was resting. The poet wasn’t interested in statistics but the wind, the whirlwinds of passion, the currents of mindlessness, the oceans of love and the fogs of uncertainty. But unlike Byron, statistics is the crucial executive lever of Giba’s expression. Because Giba, as opposed to Gliha, uses landscape instead of a graph – rocks represent culture, the elevations the economy, the cloud science, trees sport and the mountains health. The statistical table is replaced by a skyscraper, birds fly over this coordinate system instead of points.
Giba hasn’t discovered the measuring unit or the correlation between certain relevant economic and political factors. Neither had the search engine which gathers data and organizes it into categories which then collide into other categories generating new data out of the old. Of course it is necessary to manage this system, but it is also crucial to give a title to each of the categories. To set the parameters, the tags. We could say that his invention is the confrontation of one kind of concrete, specific type of data with another, transposing it into corresponding visual interpretations which constantly follow these changes. Of course this is no longer a landscape or a painting. It is a visual which has the one purpose, to relate the key elements that condition the circumstances of our existence in this very moment. This reality is numerical, its truth is most clearly expressed in statistics. But we don’t pay statistics a lot of attention. Our eyes go over numbers with no hesitation or we simply exchange numbers into the feeling of an empty stomach. The numbers through which Giba arrives to his paintings are roughly familiar but everyday life is still closer and more intense, relegating these numbers into a lower, secondary level of perception.
This, among other things, would be another way of disclosing modes of behavior of an economic political system that has as a lever (and maybe even a goal) the masking of the crucial details in a thread of numbers and phrases that is impossible to unravel.
The landscape form is successful in its revelatory nature because the landscape is a common lucrative moment, a common iconographical ornament of living rooms. Along with couches and armoires it is a crucial element in the idea of the living room. Giba’s intention is not to criticize middle-class taste. He uses a classical template to visually translate the fact that these numbers are a present if not entirely visible generative element of the circumstances of our lives.
The millions and billions which have been stolen in the highest political and economic rungs, levels unattainable to regular people, have turned into a picturesque city made up of 73 000 houses in Giba’s visual transcription. These numbers are confronted with all the tiny sums the system incessantly takes from the poor individuals through its many tentacles. Only boring and unpopular statistics add up all these individuals. These statistics have suddenly become available, a traitorous virtual universe which in its vast expanses contains all these tiny satellites and asteroids which strike individuals on weekdays and weekends. Although they have existed for a while now a telescope with the name php application has brought them all together with a push of a button, and by pushing another Giba has turned them into floors of rising skyscrapers.
The uncompromising critics will still wonder where the artist is in all this. What does he do while the machine generates landscapes night and day?
He arranges new compositions, he tunes the antennas to pick up sound waves of dissatisfaction which fill the air. He goes out into the street and listens to what the masses whisper while those responsible yell out slogans. He visits the centers of discontent, registers the level of vault emptiness, makes his way through the crowd of the unemployed and along with them he takes the tectonic blows of a global second.