Urbonas Studios’ ‘TRANSmutation’ at Busan Biennale

Nomeda & Gediminas. TRANSmutation, 2018 6 channel synchronised HD video installation, HDPE pipe structure architecture: Indrė Umbrasaitė video: Rainar Aasrand photography: Rudolfas Levulis and Paulius Mazūras image archive: Lithuanian Central State Archives, The State Scientific Research Institute Nature Research Centre (NRC), The Lithuanian Museum of Ethnocosmology.
ACT at MIT

For the 2018 Busan Biennale, Nomeda and Gediminas Urbonas, known as Urbonas Studio, were commissioned by the biennale’s Artistic Director Cristina Ricupero, Curator Jörg Heiser, and Guest Curator Gahee Park.

Their project, TRANSmutation (2018), is a 6 channel synchronized HD video installation, with a HDPE pipe structure.

Titled Divided We Stand, the theme of the 9th Busan Biennale is that of split territories as reflected in the works of the selected 65 participants, representing 34 countries. The two venues of the exhibition unfold the biennale’s theme: at the newly opened Museum of Contemporary Art  the main focus is the Cold War era and its uncanny return in the present, while at the former Bank of Korea building, alternate futurist scenarios develop looking at our current state of being through the lens of science fiction. 

For Busan, Urbonas Studios resume a socio-psychological methodology, initiated in their 2002 work Transaction, an elliptical meditation on gender construction through media, and the relationship of those constructions to national identity and its colonial projection. Picking up this tangled theme, Urbonas’ installation is envisioned as an apparatus and a media device that projects the landscape of a double agent psyche, ranging from pseudoscientific efforts of mind control to the programming of the planet.

Conceived as a multilayered, associative, and visual narrative, the installation is collaged from a series of Soviet cult films featuring fragments with Baltic men performing as spies and foreigners; this includes images of classified research on technology that supports plant growth in zero gravity space (entangled with the unpublished research on Soviet / American experiment in human-algae symbiosis.) It is a type of Pharmakon of double agency that is performed on video monitors installed within a retro-futuristic structure. The work’s psychoanalytical aspect takes the form of the sculptural cave, which might suggest a metaphor for psychological interiority manifest through architecture – in other words, a public psychology more expansive than the individual mind.

Nomeda & Gediminas Urbonas. TRANSmutation, 2018
6 channel synchronised HD video installation, HDPE pipe structure
architecture: Indrė Umbrasaitė
video: Rainar Aasrand
photography: Rudolfas Levulis and Paulius Mazūras
image archive: Lithuanian Central State Archives, The State Scientific Research Institute Nature Research Centre (NRC),
The Lithuanian Museum of Ethnocosmology.