Eastern Bloc

Exhibits 2015 - 2016

12 May - 1 June 2016

Vernissage: 12 May, 7pm
Opening hours: Tues - Sun, 12pm - 5pm

Martina Mezak / Vitar Drinković / Davor Sanvincenti / Margareta Lekić / Lightune.G / Hiroo Iwata / Marko Batista / Robertina Šebjanič & Ida Hiršenfelder & Aleš Hieng-Zergon / Takeshi Oozu / Saša Spačal

First initiated in 2004 by Croatian organization KONTEJNER | bureau of contemporary art praxis, Device_art is a triennial international festival exploring the relationship between technology, art, and utility. The project is focused on exploring and communicating an artistic medium, which takes the shape of a technological device in a critical, provocative, or playful manner. It aims at contextualizing and presenting works that are the result of creative tendencies located at the crossroads of art-design, gadget-hack, and hybrid technologies.

The fifth edition of the Device_art triennial will be presented in Montreal in close collaboration with at Eastern Bloc, featuring an exhibition and performances by Croatian, Slovene and Japanese artists: Martina Mezak, Vitar Drinković, Davor Sanvincenti, Margareta Lekić, Lightune.G, Marko Batista, Robertina Šebjanič, Ida Hiršenfelder & Aleš Hieng-Zergon, Saša Spačal, Takeshi Oozu, and Hiroo Iwata.

Official website: www.kontejner.org/en/project/deviceart-5016-canada

14 January - 3 February 2016

Vernissage: 14 January, 6pm
Workshop with Eco Art Tech: 16 January 2016, 11am - 6pm
Gallery hours: Tues - Sun, 12pm - 5pm


Eastern Bloc presents the third segment of our 2015-2016 three-part cycle of exhibitions and activities, BPLTC, on the general theme of biopolitics.

FOOD CONTROL: 14 January - 3 February 2016

The third and last part of the BPLTC cycle addresses issues of food control, namely the (non)sharing of food, ecological and natural resources worldwide. This exhibition aims to identify political and economic control mechanisms that have a direct impact on sensitive populations — those who, for instance, live in extreme northern or tropical areas. Through this exhibition, we wish to denounce the gap that exists between the perception we have, in the Western world, of digitally-connected world, and the reality of peoples, notably indigenous ones, that are restricted in their geo-biopolitical powers. Whether through a critique of the food industry, a collective exploration of rudimentary feeding practices, or even a crop of genetically-modified seeds, the works presented in the context of this third exhibition highlight community mobilization tactics deployed as a way of responding to these issues of human, territory and food controls.

Corn, while being a product of nature, has defined, over time, social and cultural activity throughout many regions of the world. Domestic corn production, while occurring in a "natural" environment, is increasingly mechanized by the agricultural industry. Milpa Polimera (Arcangel Constantini & Marcela Armas) presents thus a tractor-robot, rotating in an enclosed circular pattern, planting artificial seeds, as a reflection on biotechnology and the very transformation of a living organism. The sterile seeds, planted by the robot, become a cultural, economic artifact from which no plant will ever grow. The cycle of life and reproduction is thus interrupted, and there exists no other alternative other than resorting to industrial agricultural production, time and time again. What arises is a self-justifying closed system. What is brought forth in this work is a confrontation of two opposing ideological currents and how the technology at play allows for both to co-exist.

OS Fermentation (Leila Nadir & Cary Peppermint - Eco Art Tech) is an interspecies installation, slow-cooking class, healing ritual, and spiritual revival of human-microbial collaborations. It is part of EcoArtTech’s new series of social sculptures that work collaboratively with local communities (human, bacterial, and ecological) to resuscitate historic food practices and facilitate recovery from what we call “industrial amnesia.” OS Fermentation include : pictorial “selfies” created by microbes with the aid of custom electronics and software that capture the shifting pH levels, oxygen, and color values of the fermentation process; tastings of the artists’ home-made, non-industrial, non-conventional acclaimed fermented drinks.

Evigaturen (Signe Liden) is an installation based on a long durational instrument made for The Global Seed Vault. The seeds stored in the vault located halfway between the North Pole and Norway, are duplicate samples of those held in seed banks worldwide, meant to provide insurance against extinction in the case of large-scale regional or global catastrophes. Evigaturen creates the possibility for a sculptural, mechanical apparatus that can record the seed activity over time, such as seed delivery, technical maintenance, and number of visitors, in one of the three inner chambers where the seeds lay in hibernation. Based on ancient recording principles, the apparatus writes the sound of these activities onto a rotating record by a needle fixed to a cone.

5 - 25 November 2015

Vernissage: 5 November, 6pm
Workshop with Jamie Allen & Shintaro Miyazaki: 7 - 8 November 2015
Presented as a satellite event to the Media Art Histories conference: Re-Create
Gallery hours: Tues - Sun, 12pm - 5pm


Eastern Bloc presents the second segment of our 2015-2016 three-part cycle of exhibitions and activities, BPLTC, on the general theme of biopolitics.

IDENTITY CONTROL: 5 - 25 November 2015

The second part of the BPLTC cycle will focus more specifically on the issue of identity control as it relates to individual biometric data. One could describe the phenomenon of biometric identification as the set of scientific methods seeking to certify the identity of a person from reading fixed body data. This principle, derived from 19th-century anthropometric science, is far from new, but has grown dramatically in recent years with the rapid development of computer science, the enactment of state security control policies and the financial interests of large corporations. The works presented in this exhibition are concerned with the use of biometric data in relation to the ethical questions they raise about the control of citizens and privacy protection.

The Lie Machine (Jamie Allen) ) is a recreation of an early instrument for the processing of voice with Voice Stress Analysis (VSA) algorithms. The highly contested vocal micro-tremors detection technique can be applied surreptitiously, even posthumously, to vast sources of live and recorded spoken audio. The archive chosen for this analysis is a set of audiobook autobiographies, each read by its author — such as «Decision Point»s by George W. Bush, «Going Rogue: An American Life» by Sarah Palin, and «A Journey: My Political Life» by Tony Blair.

The Turing Normalizing Machine (Mushon Zer-Aviv) is inspired by Alan Turing's life and research and seeks to finally crack the greatest enigma of all: "Who is normal?” The Turing Normalizing Machine is an experimental research in machine-learning that identifies and analyzes the concept of social normalcy. Each participant is presented with a video line up of 4 previously recorded participants and is asked to point out the most normal-looking of the 4. The person selected is examined by the machine and is added to its algorithmically constructed image of normalcy. The kind participant's video is then added as a new entry on the database. As the database grows the Turing Normalizing Machine develops a more intricate model of normal-appearance, and moves us closer to our research goal: to once-and-for-all decode the mystery of what society deems “normal” and to automate the process for the advancement of science, commerce, security and society at large. Conducted and presented as a scientific experiment TNM challenges the participants to consider the outrageous proposition of algorithmic prejudice.

Facial Weaponization Suite (Zach Blas) protests against biometric facial recognition–and the inequalities these technologies propagate–by making “collective masks” in community-based workshops that are modeled from the aggregated facial data of participants, resulting in amorphous masks that cannot be detected as human faces by biometric facial recognition technologies. The masks are used for public interventions and performances. These masks intersect with social movements’ use of masking as an opaque tool of collective transformation that refuses dominant forms of political representation.

24 September - 14 October 2015

Vernissage: 24 September, 6pm
Artist talk with SubRosa: 26 September, 2pm - 3pm
Guided tour of exhibit: 27 September, 2pm - 3pm
Gallery hours: Tues - Sun, 12pm - 5pm


Eastern Bloc introduces the first segment of our 2015-2016 three-part cycle of exhibitions and activities, BPLTC, on the general theme of biopolitics. This cycle is divided into three segments: Cellular Control, Identity Control and Food Control. The development of computer and digital technologies enables important command of human activities, responding to major financial, corporate and political interests, sometimes for better. Advances in research and its technical applications raise complex issues that are central to communities, and are located at the heart of current political challenges. Many new media and digital contemporary artists are now incorporating theses questions into their work.

CELLULAR CONTROL: 24 September - 14 October 2015

Cellular control will examine how human beings tend to take over creative and (re)productive activities supposed to be exclusive to natural organisms -- thanks mainly to technological tools -- and shed light on the fundamental questions that this takeover of life raises.

Invisible (Heather Dewey-Hagborg) is an installation that deals with biological monitoring, which currently uses our most essential biological identity, namely our DNA, as a means of analysis, monitoring, and tracking, therefore reducing the body to a simple set of data and impeding individual freedom. Yet, our most fundamental right is rooted in the guarantee of determining what happens to our bodies and the ability to be in constant control of how we share information. The artist Heather Dewey-Hagborg has created a duo of sprays, Erase and Replace, which erase bodily traces forgotten in public places.

Cellular Performance (Verena Friedrich) examines the advertising language used by the care products industry. It specifically focuses on the names of so-called “cosmeceuticals,” a class of skin care products claiming pharmaceutical benefits. Cellular Performance draws on this terminology and applies it directly to the physiological material it makes reference to: skin cells have been manipulated in the laboratory to form words which in effect re-incarnate the promises of the cosmeceutical industry. Selected skin cell lines were cultured. The ephemeral outcome of this procedure was recorded by means of live cell imaging and time-lapse microscopy. Moments of successful stabilization are quickly followed by disorder and decay...

Cell Track: Mapping the Appropriation of Life Materials (SubRosa), an installation and website, situate the privatization of human, animal, and plant genomes within a history of Eugenic practices. This work draws attention to the increasing separation between the bodies that produce genetic material, and the pharmaceutical “products” derived from them. Maternal biological material especially—such as eggs, placentas, fetuses, and umbilical cord blood—has become valuable “raw material” mined for new stem cell technologies. This has opened pathways for corporations to profit from the manipulation and control of life—by patenting and licensing existing DNA sequences, and by engineering new biological “products”.