Dualism of Waves’ Existence

            Last production of Igor Benca is distinctive for its dualism which is determined by two different graphic techniques: etching and mezzotint and print from the surface. While etching is represented by visually attractive exlibris made to order, prints from the surface include pieces on the verge of graphics and painting. It stems from the artist’s avant-garde longing for the freedom of production and its originality. s come from the dualism of existence of the spiritual and materialistic substance of man.

            From the philosophical point of view, the basis of most things can be characterized by the principle of dualism. As one of the firsts, a Greek philosopher Pytagoras, did not consider the principle to entail conflicting opposites but accidental ones (black and white, sweet and sour, good and bad etc.). Dualism was even found in the sole existence of man. It was a subject of studies of idealistic philosophy (Immanuel Kant, René Descartes) that stressed the unity of spiritual and material substances. Existence itself was considered to be an objective world independent from consciousness. The problem of duality of existence was analysed by esoteric psychology too. According to it, the world is based on duality – god and evil, true and lie, light and darkness, spirituality and materialism. However, all things considered, these opposites represent the same thing since spirit and material are unified in consciousness of planetary logo. The relation of subject and object, as the basic duality, represents the main principle of Kabalarian philosophy. It does not explain dualism of existence on the basis of positive and negative principle which recognizes the difference between god and evil. Instead, it takes into account a constructive principle of positivism as high energy, invisible intelligent part of life and negativism as low, never ending expression of positivism, as it is with photographic positive and negative. The positive means life and the negative is not an opposite measure in the sense of bad and good, but it is a mirror-like reflection of the positive.

            From the above-mentioned philosophical, psychological and spiritual view, the dualism of Benca’s production does not have to be understood in the opposite way. In fact, both of the artist’s seemingly conflicting attitudes are ideologically same. They do only differ in the technique used as it can be seen in the graphics Existence of waves. The question of existence is one of the primary problems of philosophy, especially the ontology (i.e. the science on existence). The old Greek philosophy considered the problem so natural that it ceased to deal with it. Later on, George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel considered existence to be something no defining, which could hardly be categorised in any way. According to Martin Heidegger, the founder of fundamentalist ontology, the question of existence was thus dark and did not lead anywhere unless the posing of the question was made clear. Therefore, each question represents search for learning what existence is.

            On the basis of Heidegger’s etymology, the expression ”existence” can then be defined as electro-magnetic waves of a mobile phone that influence the existence of a modern man. Through these waves, the artist draws attention to the danger of manipulation of people by machines as it is illustrated by telephonic figures depicted as mechanic toys on the background of mobile signal waves. Psychological dependence of some people on computer games has already been classified as gambling. However, there has been no research conducted on the psychological dependence of people on mobile phones. More often then not, it is pointed out that their electromagnetic waves might be harmful for the brain activity which results in a lowered ability to react on unexpected stimulus, e.g. when driving a car. Addiction on mobiles can be defined from the social point, too. Since mobile phones are loosing their primary function to serve as a mean of communication, they are becoming a sign of the status. Moreover, the producers of mobile phones themselves who are adding more and more functions, e.g. radio, camera, diary etc. play an important role in this trend. Dominance of machines has been predicted several times, beginning with Čapek’s novel RUR and ending a film Terminator. In both cases, it was predicted that the world would be ruled by man-made industrial robots. If multifunctional chips from mobile phones had been implanted in the human body, which has already been tried by scientists, then it is feasible that living man would be manipulated by machines not from the outside but surprisingly from the inside.

            The graphics Existence of Waves thus reflects philosophical and ethic attitude of the artist towards the modern world and is, at the same time, an avant-garde attempt for the social catharsis. On the other hand, the multiplication of the motif comes from the pop-art principle of repetition of the same motif as it can be seen in the production of Andy Warhol. In addition, he used also prints from the surfaces, screenprint and sérigraphie. E.g. his painting Electric Chair is an emotionally strong message pointing to the ethic problem of the capital punishment. The multiplication of the motif of the electric chair as a modern symbol of the death punishment was chosen by him to express the socially critical opinion that only god has got the right to decide about life and death of man. Due to the fact that the abolishment of the capital punishment in the USA has failed on the federal level and thus remained in the hands of national governments, it is arguable to which extent socially engaged art is able to influence the formation of society from the global point of view. Is it not then only the auto-catharsis of the artist?

            Similar questions can be posed when looking for the meaning of other Igor Benca’s pieces, e.g. Pockemon or The Game over. The Japanese cartoon for children Pockemon – the power of an individual was criticized even at the time of its boom several years ago. It was highlighted that its aggressive form could be harmful for the mentality of children. Fortunately, it was trendy just for a short period of time due to its highly sophisticated marketing strategy. However, the negative feature of the present times is that having a good advertising campaign makes you able to convert the most silly thing into a commercially successful blockbuster.

            Another piece the game over depicts a syndrome of fighting computer games. Basically, the history of man is nothing else but the history of war. In the last 40 thousand years when man reached the stage of becoming the homo sapiens sapiens, there has been no change in this sense and that is why it is naive to reckon that something will change in the near future. Man is the only creature on the Earth who kills the members of its own species. Killing, as a part of the human nature, is thus logically reflected in the entertainment industry, action films and computer games. But if it is depicted by art it can either be with the purpose to document a historic happening or to try to express social catharsis in an avant-garde way. Nevertheless, the documentary purpose is automatically included in every art piece produced at a certain time and place, from which the artist is unable to escape. On the other hand, the avant-garde attempt for the purification of society is solely the artist’s individual protest against contemporary conventions or a prophecy (vision) which is often misunderstood by the general public.


English by Marcela Vančová

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