Maja Smrekar (SI) Active Denial System Error 1.0

Installation. 2009

Active Denial System Error 1.0, a sound kineticon, refers to the activities of the Active Denial System (ADS) environment. A civil population protection and surveillance device, it also has can be used as a subtle weapon. ADS disables its targets with directed ultrasound rays, which “invisibly” penetrate into the nerve endings under the skin and cause a strong burning pain. When the ray changes direction, the pain immediately disappears. Nevertheless, the arms industry advertises ADS as an “ethical” weapon.

The work consists of a surveillance camera and a loudspeaker mounted on an electric motor. Through a directional sound system, the loudspeaker emits a sound image of an unknown language expressed in the form of a distorted human voice. The language is made in real time syllables that the computer programme chooses and designs randomly from the Pure Data library, prepared in advance. The device is able to rotate a full 360 degrees horizontally and the bottom can turn through 180 degrees, enabling it to detect and track moving objects in space through the use of its surveillance camera. While the camera is tracking a moving person, the sound from the speaker is transmitted in the same direction in real time and space, and can only be heard by that person. The system also contains two monitors, which show, side-by-side, the tracked objects in the surveillance area and disclose the device’s operating system and the code that runs it.

In the project, in contrast to closed and isolated protection and surveillance systems, the author has established an identification with positions of power, as such forms of violence in the name of control and punishment forecast negative changes in the evolution of perception and consequently in the autonomy of an individual’s self-awareness.

sound and video programming, consulting, execution: Miha Tomšič
voice: Petra Guček
thanks to: Rok Čančer, Vid Simoniti, Janez Janša, LJUDMILA Digital lab
produced by: Galerija Kapelica / Zavod K6/4

Maja Smrekar (SI)

Maja Smrekar was born 1978 in Slovenia. She graduated from the Sculpture Department at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design, in collaboration with the Academy of Theatre, Radio, Film and Television in Ljubljana, Slovenia, and holds a Master of Arts in Video and the New Media. She has exhibited in various fine arts and media arts museums, such as ZKM Karlsruhe (Germany), Musée de l’Homme (Paris, France), Het Neuwe Institut (Rotterdam, The Netherlands), Art Laboratory Berlin (Germany), Latvian National Arts Museum (Riga, Latvia), Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova (Ljubljana, Slovenia), Milton Keynes Gallery (United Kingdom), and RMIT Gallery Melbourne (Australia), as well as festivals such as Ars Electronica (Linz, Austria), Transmediale (Berlin, Germany), Click (Helsingør, Denmark) and Musrara Mix (Jerusalem, Israel). She has received several awards and distinctions, among others the award of the European Centre for Arts Hellerau (Dresden, Germany) at the Cynetart festival 2012, a honorary mention at the Ars Electronica festival 2013 (Linz, Austria), the Golden Bird Award 2013 (Ljubljana, Slovenia), the Trend Award 2017 – Prize for Visual Creativity (Ljubljana, Slovenia), and the Prix Ars Electronica – Golden Nica 2017 in Hybrid Art (Linz, Austria). In 2018, she won the Prešeren Foundation Award – the highest national award for artistic achievements given by the Republic of Slovenia (Ljubljana, Slovenia). For various years she has been an artistic associate of production platforms, such as Kapelica Gallery / Kersnikova Institute (SI), The Culture Yard (DK), Cultivamos Cultura (PT), Quo Artis Foundation (ES), Aksioma Institute (SI), etc. Maja Smrekar lives and works in Ljubljana (Slovenia).