As part of the exhibition program of the Dopolavoro flagship of the Rijeka 2020 – European Capital of Culture project, the Terra Effluviens exhibition will open in Exportdrvo (Grobnička riva, Rijeka) on Friday, August 21 at 7 pm. The exhibition enables communication with an artificial intelligence called Homo Effluviens and immersion in the sound topography of Rijeka.
Curated by designer and art historian Nikola Bojić, the exhibition was created as a result of joint research by numerous architects, scientists, hackers and artists, based on a fascinating but forgotten 1971 study by Croatian architect Branko Petrović.
The exhibition remains open until September 30: visit until September 13 every day from 5 pm to 9 pm, and from September 14 to September 30 from 11 am to 9 pm.
Located in the former warehouse, at the place where the Dead Channel connects with Porto Baroš, the exhibition focuses on a forgotten 1971 study which analysed Rijeka as a complex territory of various flows through which one can speculate about the possible futures of work, production and human impact on the environment.
The study Systematization of the Human Environment by the architect Branko Petrović was published in Yugoslavia in the midst of the Cold War tensions, numerous techno-futurological visions of the time and rising environmental concerns. It was created after Petrović’s seven-year stay in Ethiopia, where he worked as an international expert in planning and spatial development.
Branko Petrović presents the project of the new royal palace to the Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie
At the end of his stay in Ethiopia, he began working on a study that grew into a complex cybernetic-systemic vision of a planetary future that, due to a combination of historical circumstances, has remained lost in the archives to this day. Nearly fifty years after its publication, the Terra Effluviens exhibition puts the study and its original diagrams in a contemporary context.
The author and curator of the project, Nikola Bojić, presented the work on Petrović’s study and “Rijeka” diagrams at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm at the end of 2019.
Namely, the original study contains about thirty diagrams that provide a deep dive into entanglements of human, technological and natural systems. Petrović connected technological predictions, a new understanding of time and space, and their relations with the future dynamics of the planetary ecosystem, which from our perspective provides a new insight into the complexity of the crisis we are in today.
Due to its specific industrial history, which has not only irreversibly redefined the natural environment but also the collective consciousness of people, Rijeka figures as a perfect “zone” for critical reflection on work that goes beyond the current settings of exploitation, production and exponential growth. With its coastal and river ecosystems, networked by dense industrial infrastructure, Rijeka served as an operational model for the study of the term terra effluviens (roughly translated as “land of toxic flow”), which was the central topic of research.
By linking the 1971 study with contemporary theoretical, artistic and design research, the exhibition provides a new insight into the impact of humanity on Earth, so significant that the need arose to define a new geological epoch (anthropocene).
Based on a three-day seminar that brought together about twenty local and international researchers (architects, designers, philosophers, biologists) in Rijeka in November 2019, the authors “inserted” the collected data into the machine learning model along with the original archival sources. The result is a new form of Artificial Intelligence (AI), an “alive” hybrid entity that can be communicated with in a real-time. This new entity – Homo Effluviens – becomes one of the main protagonists of the exhibition.
The second segment of the exhibition is a soundscape created from the data-sonification and site-specific sound samples recorded in Rijeka. The selection of these locations is based on the overlapping of several original diagrams from 1971 study with contemporary spatial data, which resulted in the new sonic topography of the city which can be explored through through interactive sonic objects set on 500 m2 of exhibition space in Exportdrvo.
Sound samples were created by probing certain locations and through sonification of the space-specific data flows in real time
Nikola Bojić, concept and curation
Branko Petrović, diagrams
Damir Prizmić, Damir Gamulin, exhibition design
Miodrag Galović, sonic installation and sound design
Miro Roman, conception and design of synthetic persona
Ivo Vičić, sound recording
Gediminas Urbonas (MIT, Cambridge)
Damir Ugljen (independant researcher)
Armina Pilav (University of Sheffield)
Martin Guinard (ZKM, Karlsruhe)
Merve Bedir (Hong Kong University)
Ivica Mitrović (University of Split)
Donato Ricci (SciencesPo, Paris)
Louise Carver (Lancaster University)
Gary Zhexi Zhang (independant researcher)
Jamie Allen (FHNW, Basel)
Idis Turato (University of Zagreb)
Ida Križaj Leko (Delta Lab, Rijeka)
Boštjan Surina (Natural History Museum, Rijeka)