The Unprotected Witness project was conceived as a series of interventions in permanent museum displays, the interpolation of the works of contemporary artists and reinterpretation of the museum phenomenon in the widest sense. The point of departure for making such mini-meta museums was mirroring in order to transform into a palace of distortions and extensions not solely museums, but also the perceptions and receptions of artworks and relations with the museum object. Thus, the museum object was prompted leave its safety mode and automatically become an unprotected witness to all of the processes that it is subjected to. Opposing Troxler’s effect,  Unprotected Witnesscomes close to the total museum utopia. . Unprotected Witness No. 2 was initially intended for the Postal Museum. The working title of the imagined exhibition Love Affair, or the Case of the Missing Switchboard Operator, marked its fate in many ways. The exhibition was brought to a standstill over the summer due to the growing numbers of Covid-19 infections and all Postal Museum projects were stopped, frozen until further notice. Panic struck.
It is the end of June, and I am on call for the K19/Artworks from
Quarantineexhibition at the Faculty of Fine Art’s Gallery. Every working day and on
Saturdays, at 5
PM, I am constantly exposed to the sounds of coughing coming from the video work that is closest to my desk. If
towards the front door, I am attacked by the generic sounds of a shooting video game and right between them, in
middle of the audio distortion, I decide to stop my own fears, tachycardia and hyperventilation.
I call my colleague Ivan Stanić, the author of many things, but for this occasion, most importantly,
Festival S.U.T.R.A. (T.O.M.O.R.R.O.W.). Tomorrow saves my life, even though I know the
future has long since begun.
Each museum has its own resonance. The choice of Fela Kuti and Fugazi for Unprotected Witness No. 1 – Aphrodisiacis more than obvious. As is Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music  (hereinafter, MMM) for the Museum of Science and Technology. Reed's phenomenal orchestration of noise still overpowers all other noise, the din and transmissions of reality, because that is what it constitutes it. 
The guitars are positioned, amplifiers set to maximum, and the vibrations create two
sound that collide and form another, then another and another… The resulting signal is taken back to the
amplifying the original sound over and over again, until the whole combination makes the amplifier reach maximum
MMM is conceptual guitar feedback, a masturbating armless solo.. Purified to the
, the naked, indifferent sound recording of mechanical oscillations vibrates with Cage's, Cale’s, and the
influence of La
Monte Young, Terry Riley and the explorations of Stockhausen and German electronic music of the 1970s. MMM is an
concept whose development can be traced back to a fascination with machines and the technological advances of
avant-gardes. It relies on the use of neo-avant-garde strategies, minimal art reductionism, but is most directly
to Reed's forming of The Velvet Underground  (the most influential band of the 20th century) and
multimedia collaboration with Warhol in the Factory as part of the EPI project. MMM is the
the process of sound deconstruction that Reed started with The Velvet Underground - prophets of the new
is white noise of an almost sacred symmetry: two albums, four segments, each lasting 16’01. The fourth side ends
locked groove, which causes endless repetition of the last 1.8 seconds (until the listener removes the needle
record). With that decision (which Reed attributes to Warhol, The Velvet Underground’s manager), MMM is morphed
both a formal monumental work and a measuring instrument for the limits of endurance.
The most monumental work of the MMM exhibition is a composition by Vladimir Nikolić, Gravitational Waves. Drapery as an integral part of the painting construction, the paradigm of light and shadow and the constant assessor of volume representation skills – at this point, independent and devoid of anxiety, the required skill has now gained almost classicist restraint. The static projection of the grid suggests a new, fourth dimension to the drapery configuration. Vibrations due to the curvature of space and time are trapped in the network. The dimensions are marked (2D, 3D, 4D). Gravitational waves are fixed in accordance with the limitations of our senses and mind. The observer is situated as if on a theatrical stage – in front of the drapery, that place of hesitation, the space between different dimensions. Which, after all, is one of its definitions. As recordings of wave resonances (electromagnetic, sound, and gravitational), MMM and Nikolić's composition have a lot in common. They establish a structural rhythm with monumentality, emphasized symmetry, mystery of duration, immovable minimalism – the focus is on empty fields of audio and visual thinking (white noise, canvas). Both forms of negation non-image и non-music redefine our perception by registering murmurs from the beginnings of the cosmos. The interaction of two black holes enabled the detection of gravitational waves on Thursday, 14 September 2015.
Meanwhile, the black hole of capitalism is widening in Pančevo. The Pančevo glass factory went bankrupt. Stevan Rundo refused severance pay. I guess, naively hoping that this honourable, shining uncompromising act will save him from the absorption of the dark force. However…
With mathematical precision and touching unpretentiousness equivalent to that of the
darkest in The Death of Mister Lazarescu Jelica and Dejan pass straight through the
confronting the story of Stevan Rundo about the rise and fall of the factory with greater capitalist
interests of turbo capitalism and criminal privatisation processes. The never to be solved and unresolved yes
(as extremes of the individual-system, private-public, humane-inhumane…) are symbolically enclosed in
glass shards and put somewhere safe (the Museum – space of protection) to wait for better times.
This decision to place in a safe place affords the installation additional balance through a constant feeling of collapse and reassembly. The sound of MMM is just that. An audio recording that continuously deconstructs and constructs. MMM is the materialisation of the debris of Reed’s polarities.From starting The Velvet Underground, Reed’s collaboration with Warhol and the Factory as hub, and all the serious quakes they brought upon audio and visual culture, over Reed’s later experiments with Bowie (the Transformer album), followed by Berlin – MMM is a gesture that dissolves and closes these fields.
On MMM, Reed takes the deconstruction of sound and its reduction, alchemical balance, dark insight and texture that is almost palpable (all started with The Velvet Underground), to their endpoints: from meditative to painful stimuli; from the sound of seagulls to breaking glass whose shards burry deep into the listening body. The key to understanding MMM is its physicality You feel your pulse slowly quicken because the noise triggers a warning in your body, but then you realise that when your nerves say, ‘danger’, they're not always right. It is impossible to even think while listening to it.Reed often used to say that it was the only record he knew attacked the listener. And he loved, truly.
And of course the adrenaline junky does not stop there, he can’t, he won’t. MMM is the sound of clashing with synthetic reality, it is a recording of the harmony and disharmony of crystal meth (the subtitle is its chemical compound). We listen to a deal being made between Reed and amphetamines, followed by all their indications and contraindications. This is why we hear so many contradictions : it is the synthesis of the experience of powerful stimulation, the dopamine metamorphosis of the machine-man  and therefore closer to the truth  than reality that belongs to people or machines.
There is a growing interest in new techniques of mind-control. It has been suggested that Sirhan Sirhan was the subject of post-hypnotic suggestion… Dr. Delgado who stopped a charging bull by remote control of electrodes in the bull’s brain has left the US… This is how Reed’s friend, Burroughs, the first junky guru, started his 1978 essay “The Limits of Control”. The film of the same title  was made by another friend of Reed’s, Jim Jarmusch in 2009, and a year later Stevan Kojić’s Systems of the Absurd came into being. Luxurious props (computers, writing and modifying their programming codes, screens, plants, artificial intelligence programmes, potentiometers, lighting, tools, the so-called 3rd hand, bundles of cables…) are in fact a witty critique of new understandings of revolutionary technocratic subjectivity (the Vitruvian man has become cybernetic) and the ideology of digital capitalism in which all technologies claim biopolitical effects. The development of an increasingly sophisticated interface with a tendency to leave decision-making and control to intelligent machines has been sifted through yet another System of the Absurd.
A camera records a plant placed in front of a monitor with a digital, 3D landscape of moving mountain. The camera transmits the image to another computer with artificial intelligence facial-recognition software. Shadows of an artificial landscape and natural plants cause perpetual software glitches, that is, frequent identifications of the human face where there is none. Each “identification” results in a change in sound: a green square appears where the software determined “face recognition”, the number of “identified” on the screen and each identification is accompanied with a sound. The following segment is linked to rotating moss placed on a table, which is being filmed, and this image is broadcasts on a screen with photoresistors, which measure light intensity at the points where they are glued on and where they change the intensity of the current on the lamps above the moss. Thus, the moss determines the amount of light for photosynthesis, i.e., the moss is living its own projection. Its survival depends on its digital, screen image. A similar thing is happening in the next segment – potentiometers read the light intensity of the digital landscape image and in accordance with this information there is a change of current and light intensity of the lamps that illuminate a plastic container with water in which the interaction of carbon dioxide and variable light will produce algae. Why all this? Artificial intelligence that is not intelligent? On the contrary; does moss need to stare at its own projection to survive? Even though its image is more beautiful than what we actually see, like the landscape of another planet. And, the algae? Where did they come from? Will they appear – no they won't! There is no time for that. Systems of the absurd are suggestions, simulations of events that do not actually happen, while constantly occurring. The MMM is similar. Reed is a guitarist who doesn't play guitars (they vibrate on their own) on MMM, which is nevertheless a guitar album, a perfect guitar solo. The systems of the absurd and MMM have the same sound – the sound of electricity falling in love with itself (even while making mistakes, in the case of artificial intelligence). These are artistic concepts based on the coexistence of man and machine. Both machinariums,  in constant modulation, work endlessly until someone turns off the electricity or removes the needle from the phonograph record.
If we say ‘there are humans who see’, the question follows ‘And what is “seeing”?’
And how should we answer it? By teaching the questioner the use of the word ‘see’? […] I observe this patch.
‘Now it's like so’ – and simultaneously I point to e.g. a picture. I may constantly observe the same thing and
what I see may then remain the same, or it may change. What I observe and what I see do not have the same
(kind of) identity. Because the words ‘this patch’, for example, do not allow us to recognize the (kind of)
identity I mean. 
ROTHKO: Wait. Stand closer. You’ve got to get close. Let it pulsate. Let it work on you. Closer. Too close. There. Let it spread out. Let it wrap its arms around you; let it embrace you, filling even your peripheral vision so nothing else exists or has ever existed or will ever exist. Let the picture do its work ~ But work with it. Meet it halfway for God’s sake! Lean forward, lean into it. Engage with it!... Now, what do you see? – Wait, wait, wait!
Rister's Eye Muscle and Nerve Exerciser trains our sight. Comically built to look like a photo camera and changing booth, it pleasantly emits its pseudo-healing effect. Art can seriously improve your health. It can. MMM stands in front of it, but as a measuring instrument of the limits of endurance. Because, if you listen to it with the volume turned up, it not only sounds like something that will damage your hearing, but it actually is the sound of damage.
Nataša Kokić's interpolation They are parts, we are parts too… consists of a telescope from the beginning of the last century, the foreshortening all skewed, with folded sheets for writing letters (from the same period as the telescope), on which maps and sound recordings of Plato’s and Plotinus’s dialogues were subsequently printed regarding philosophical conceptions of the earth, celestial bodies, the universe… space in general. The maps are glued onto a structure made from several museum mounts which are mostly damaged. The mounts conceal also an audio work. Kokić's intervention is a meta museum within a meta museum; through the cracks of museum narratives we discover new narratives and cracks through which new narratives... The museum is a portal where time is constantly, repeatedly, transformed into a space that is in a state of bursting; it is a constructed relationship of relations and ommited histories. There if more of what is missing in it. The museum is a fragile construct of generalised, personal, as well as made-up histories. That is why the mounts are worn out, the papers glued on and the foreshortening all wrong. MMM on the other side also separates time and rests on fabrications. On the back cover of the LP is a long list of instruments, filters and technical specifications – everything is made up. Another urban myth is that Reed recorded MMM in order to somehow get out of an unfavorable contract with his record company, and MMM was considered one of the craziest strategies of resistance. The LP record initially sold about 100,000 copies, making it the best-selling music album of all time, but many of those copies were quickly returned, and the record was removed from stores almost immediately. Rumors circulated that the record companies made a special clause in the contracts after the MMM fiasco, obliging the author to record the next record based on the previous one. That is not true either.
In time, MMM was forgotten. It has become a cult record that you have heard about but never listened to. The same thing occurs during the Unprotected Witness exhibition. You forget about the museum. Then you enter a familiar space, however, it is as if you have never seen it before.
Mens sana in corpore sano – A sound mind in a sound body is an old saying we gladly turn to in everyday communication, public speaking, in writing. Without much thought of its history, we resort to it as part of what we consider general knowledge. The wordplay is clear and enticing: if your body is sound, so is your mind, and vice versa – with a healthy mind, comes a healthy body. It offers concise guidance for a happy life: exercise your body and your mind will be healthy too; and, train your mind, and your body will follow. The same could be applied to museum anatomy: keep objects in museum “intensive care” (Šola) sound and you will emanate a sound museum mind; and, contagiously disseminate a museum mind that safeguards health through intensive care and you will have a sound museum. In short, these would be the instructions for a happy life of the “museum’s museum” (Булатовић).
Health has been the central subject of intense concern throughout 2020 and objects which have served in this non-museum time as the safeguards and support of health are part of the Museum of Science and Technology’s collections. However, we are not prompted to think about health at this moment in time due to the coronavirus pandemic, nor because of that aspect of the museum collections. Rather, we are interested in precisely this sound body/sound mind dialectic in a saying attributed to Roman satirist Juvenal. Its original form which is based on an almost twenty centuries old meme technique, has separated and started its journey of replication, repetition and preservation through transformation and varying use, viral spread and alteration. Simply put, like any meme, a sound mind in a sound body has lived and lives through the constant repetition of the same within an always slightly different context. At this point, for the sake of the Unprotected Witness No. 2: MMM story, the phrase will be memed in the following way: a sound mind within a sound museum. These short, common sense and popular phrases are always fruitful memes. All it takes is a slight change, an add-on in the form of a likable thumbnail, or video, or sound. ...As long as there are memes. A sound mind within a sound museum, as the Unprotected Witness No. 2: MMM’s museum meme, repeats the “activation peripheral vision” (Спaић) in museums; will say – “the museum needs to be tugged, come what may” (Кнежевић), will invite museum walks “in search of cracks within them” (Попадић), which is what Unprotected Witness No. 1: Aphrodisiac (2019) did at the Museum of African Art. Along with Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music, this rebellious museum meme in the Museum of Science and Technology takes us directly to a museum anatomy lesson, checking museum senses, leading to a strange encounter of the body and the museum, between corpus humanum and corpus museum, and finally, to the crack between a museum (healthy) body and (healthy) mind.
The renowned Dr. Tulp, one of Rembrandt’s famous visitors from The Anatomy Lesson of Dr.
Nicolaes Tulp, is a protected witness of an impressive setting – a scene in which figures are in deep
conversation, placed on the very edges of the canvas, immersing us into the space of the painting as attendees
of the famous doctor’s lecture. Ultimately, this was how the bodies of convicts were dissected for purposes of
scientific investigation, and they were “as a rule, public events, of a cathartic ritual nature” (Heckscher, as
cited in: Imdal 2015: 59). Let us imagine now that we are playing the role of the surgeons attentively listening
to doctor Dr. Tulp who, in our case are played by the works of Goran Ristеr, Vlаdimir Nikоlić, Јеlica
Rаdоvаnоvić and Dејаn Аnđеlkоvić, Nаtаša Kоkić and Stеvаn Kојić, i.e., the whole of Unprotected witness No. 2.
And in place of the publicly exposed lifeless body, dissected for the purpose of scientific research
representation, we imagine the point where Unprotected Witness operates – the permanent museum display. All
this, understandably, bearing in mind that the healthy spirit produces a healthy body/museum, and vice versa.
Although, possible not only that. Maybe we need to consider that both a healthy mind and healthy body are prerequisites for entering the museosphere. More than a hundred years have gone by since Benjamin Gilman defined museum fatigue, which is both corporal and spiritual, and more recently Šola noticed that “museums are the only institutions with their own, official – malady!” (Šola 2012: 36). This ailment was diagnosed by Gilman, who observed the body bending and stretching, to be able to see museum exhibits placed on whatever high or low, small or big, reachable or unreachable museum showcase, post, rack, at the same time laboriously reading those large captions with small letters and small captions with small letters (see: Gilman 1916, and take note of the accompanying photographs). The museum malady remains firmly imbedded. Kenneth Hudson, all stiff and blinded by such museum gymnastics, will not acknowledge the charm of museums that lack seating, necessary for repose, rest, and finally, recuperation from that museum malady (see: Bradburne 2001). Because of the perseverance and constant perpetuation of this museum fatigue Šola will stand confused before a museum that claims its right to “performative anomalies,” and the title of being the sole institution that is not able to keep his user happy (Šola 2012: 36).
Nevertheless, it may not be the fault of the museum? Maybe we need to fix ourselves? If the sense of sight is the most frequently necessity for the rational encounter of body and museum, we might have to pay attention to vision and observing, check our dioptre, start down the path leading to a healthy mind by exercising our body, that is our eyes. Let us begin here, it may be better for us to test ourselves, we might even understand what the matter is. Luckily, we stumble upon a museum corner where we can sit, because this art piece has that charming museum appendage – a chair. So, we sit and check our own eyesight and sense of vision through the Exerciser of the Optic Nerve and Eye Muscle by Goran Rister. Based on his own experience in treating amblyopia, or shortsightedness, Rister creates a mockup ophthalmology clinic in the museum: you are supposed to sit, nice and comfortably, with your neck and head directed towards the projection, and exercise your eyesight, alternately. The exercising eye has to look and focus on the object, that is, the projection, within this improvised camera obscura, with the other eye completely shut. There is no rush – this is an artistic checkup of the sense that we undoubtedly need to observe the forms of all those museum protected witnesses. Then, we must exercise the other eye, the one that was shut. If we have rested our back and leg muscles on the chair that Rister has placed, and thoroughly exercised our eye muscles, we may contentedly continue down the museum display path.
Now we know, as far as our eyes are concerned, that our body is healthier and, regardless the extent to which our weakened sight might miss the museums messages, small letters, mute exhibits, we know that it is not because of us – we have trained, we have focused, and now our eye nerves and eye muscles are immune to museum fatigue. Eyes are complicated because “of all our senses the eye is abstract; the eye is never able to be in direct contact with the object it percieves and cannot be immersed in it” (Хамваш 2012: 15). However, what Rister’s museum therapy has taught us is that our own experience and memory become exhibits par excellence, and that personal and living memory can easily merge with the object, without experiencing the process of musealization as a burden or violence. At this museum anatomy lesson, the Exerciser of the Optic Nerve and Eye Muscle has prepared us for focused observation, to stare if we must, to set aside our shortsightedness and direct our attention to that particular institution whose main task is to observe, watch the world around it, and often, teach us all how to do the same.
There is no healthy body without a healthy mind, we have stated. Therefore, it would be ludicrous to expect that now that we have exercised our eye nerve and eye muscle, the anatomy lesson and its segment dedicated to observation, visuality and their analysis is over. It is not. Unprotected Witness No. 2 continues to lead us along the line of investigating vision, this time, however, without questioning our prescription. It is unnecessary – we are sure of it, we have thoroughly tested our eyes and exercised. Now we clearly and assuredly see the installation Gravitational Waves by Vladimir Nikolić. A huge white screen onto which is projected a regular square network. And what we see with our eye – and we see askew, dislocation, an interruption of perfection, or, in painterly terms, drapery – is slightly annoying, slightly maddening, slightly exciting to this unexercised eye, focused on the cleanliness of the white screen and the perfect repetition of square shapes. Upset by this visual discontinuity, the eye understands that epistemological split suggested to the mind: that gravitational waves, otherwise present in Einstein’s theory of relativity, and only detected a hundred years later, have been witnessed in painting since olden times, thanks to the drapery as motif (from the artist’s statement). That, in addition to a healthy body, a healthy art education is the prerequisite of both a museum and human mind.
Thus, Nikolić amplifies the virtuosity of that overflowing drapery painted long ago; Parrhasius’ curtain is so cunning that it has not only tricked Zeuxis’s eye, not only lured and fooled a man versed in painting to attempt opening the nonexistent curtain, but with its folds – Nikolić adds – it has retained the factuality of Earth’s gravitational pull, it has memorised the effect of the force that keeps us all at its surface. Gravitational waves at this moment of museum anatomical dissection, shake the body and spirit, both man and museum. They bring disquiet to the concept of a soothing net in a state of harmony – a symbol of order, peace, and system. They disturb the rhythm of the chart – the tireless record-making of museography and science, inventories, cataloguing of the world and everything. They poke and provoke, not that which we are used to seeing with our own eyes, but that which we are incapable of seeing with our own minds – the arrogant selfishness of science that debars art. In this case, ocular-centrism challenges scientism to a duel. The disruption of the canvas by aiming for the museum floor alludes to a relative understanding of gravity as a “disruption of space and time (...) as elongation and contraction of space itself” (Клобучар). The ominous drapery masterfully and theatrically defies the force of the museum's gravitation towards oblivion, not of the healthy, but of the sensitive body and mind, that close observer of the world.
In dealing with curtains, illusions and the body that feels, Unprotected Witness No. 2 dissects the museum with a responsive video work and museum-sensitive installation brimming with life by Jelica Radovanović and Dejan Anđelković. “If you notice life in the museum, at that very moment it may well be you are looking through a window,” Šola claimed (2012: 137). It seems possible to us that it is precisely here, before a work dedicated to the Pančevo Glass Factory and Stevan Rundo, that one museum “window into the world” has been broken, and we see nothing but life itself. Although inspired by Giorgio Agamben’s observation that today the museification of the world and everything is in force, that the museum is the dimension where “what was and what is are no longer true or detrimental” shifts, and that it is a simple term for “exhibiting the impossibility of employing, inhabiting, gaining experience” (Agamben 2010: 98). Paradoxically, the artists offer with their work a blueprint of a museum with a view of life, a museum that is alive. This is not so much about the struggle for a healthy body and healthy mind, or healthy museum, as it makes reference to the life and death of the museum.
The factory has gone quiet, this much is true. It is definitely no longer in operation, production has stopped, the once active plant is now a ruin. The lively workers’ march down its hallways has ceased, there is no laughter, trickery and respite next to the reproduction of Predić's painting The Merry Brothers, Their Poor Mother. In the video Stevan Rundo has guided us through the factory – his own private museum – and stripped naked that museified discourse: that which once was, no longer is. The morphology of the glass masses that once served a purpose has cracked; today they are merely a soundtrack, the crackling of glass shards beneath each footstep along this factory-museum that has lost any sort of aura. Agamben was right – today, all this retracts into the Museum, that embodiment of extinct life forms.
However, what the Museum could learn from Stevan Rundo, and not for its own healthy body and mind, but their prerequisites – overall survival and life – is the moral of the necessity of that kinship, the fraternal connection of what once was (the museum) and what now is (memories). The museum and memory are brothers, however at present they are, it seems, merry (in Predić’s sense), their poor mother. In other words, Rundo explains in a commonsensical way how the two are akin, with an understanding that heritage is simply “the purposeful use of memory” (Булатовић 2017: 70), that the omnipresent withdrawal into the museum is true, and also that museum life does not happen in a building, factory and similar space – it happens inside of us; its human existence is not creativity “rather, it is summoning and remembering” (Havelock 2003: 85). In this case, Rundo is a symbol of the missing persons, and his vivid memory can merely support the museum spirit. Like the museum body’s missing elements Jelica Radovanović and Dejan Anđelković have joined to the set of industrial heritage illustrations, a photograph of the Pančevo factory, appeasing the museum horror vacui – the fear of empty spaces, as well as fragments of glass mass found in situ, lying there surrounded by all the other mute, protected witnesses as opposed to Rundo's loquacious, unprotected testimony about life entering the museum.
The surgical interventions of Unprotected Witness No. 2 do not cease. We examined the eye muscle and the eye nerve, we psychosomatically felt how drapery preserves the memory of gravity in the form of a spatial and temporal disturbance, relentlessly romantically and nostalgically we touched a piece of life in the museum. Dedicated to the life and biography of the museum object, Nataša Kokić, as part of the installation Fragments of the All, Fragments are we or towards unexplored expanses and elusive utopias (Plotinus) or towards unexplored expanses and elusive utopias, places an astronomical instrument with its back to the wall and facing towards a utopian mountain of weathered plinths. Sadness, not only for the telescope staring at a museum wall and thereby losing any reminiscence of its former life, but also because of the explicit, to the museum dear veto, Please, do not touch (or perhaps more directly – Can't touch this). The museum image of the world in this work is an untouchable, unchanging, still image. In search of unexplored expanses and elusive utopias, Kokić places the museum object within the “museum’s museum” aporia, introducing noise to the otherwise quiet objects. And not just any noise, but an audio recording of conversations and comments on Plotinus' and Plato's utopias, illustrated by the obviously botched maps of More's Utopia and Peter Pan's Neverland.
This is how the artist breaks down the biography of the museum object marking its lifespan in the museum image of the world. Aimed at a mountain of used plinths (the base used to hide the mistakes of life in the museum) with labels of worn, failed utopias (illusions the museum feeds on), the entire life of the telescope quickly passes before its eyepiece: once it was an object, which served its purpose, then it continued its life in retirement, in a perfectly motionless, polished old age, while around it only the plinths and bases decayed and posing on them the telescope reflected on its own memory. It is questionable, which stage of its biography came close to resembling a utopia, the word of Greek etymology for no place. However, what confronting the museum object with its own biography brings – the end of the living and beginning of the museum's pulse – is thinking about the museum not as a utopia, that future no place, but as a eutopia, a place of happiness and satisfaction (Šola 2012: 92) which may be found in the present. Staring motionless at each other, both the telescope and the revised utopias, perhaps precisely in that in-between space, form the foundations for such a here and now, a place that no longer waits for the future, nor does it live in the name of the past, but simply deals with the symptoms and treatment of the museum malady today.
The Tulpian impulse to dissect the anatomy of the museum has shaken the museum senses, poked the display to wake up, and dropped a portion of noise and a piece of life among the exhibits. Finally, drawing close to this anatomy lesson’s end and painful dissection, the same impulse is brought to us by a piece of the absurd. Stevan Kojić's Self-Sustaining System of Absurdity is an unstoppable machine that continuously solves the same task ad infinitum. A living plant and 3D landscape deceive, or rather, mock the Facial Recognition system that constantly lists and recognises human faces in the plant and the animated landscape scene. The constant appearance of Human No: xy on the screen irresistibly evokes a scene in which that memorable businessman looks up at the stars he claims to own, and says: “I manage them. I count them and then count them again” (Егзипери 2016: 35). He then writes it all down on a piece of paper which he locks away. That planetary accountant, as he has been told, is not useful to the stars, and he knows it, but nevertheless! He can, perhaps, put the piece of paper in a bank (Егзипери 2016). With Kojić’s case of the absurd, this false list of human faces is useful to the water bottle, which thanks to the light signals produce by false records will develop algae. The thought of nature that could not care less for this literally ridiculous technology, cannot be missed!
And not only that, this self-sustaining absurdity also has another part, which makes it difficult not to fall in love with fatally (if you are a lover of images, your own and those of others). Opposite this Artificial Intelligence, which takes on the role of the accountant in The Little Prince, and is busy counting, counting, writing down – not knowing what it is doing – there is a piece of moss that spins around, under the lights and the watchful eye of the camera. The photosensitive screen reacts to the rotation of the moss and with its reactions transports light energy necessary for the growth and life of the moss. Mathematically, this moss is in permanent recursion. Museologically, it lives of its own image. Technology has made it possible for it to receive life support from its own reflection in the mirror, that is, the screen. Its life is the visualisation of that Droste effect: in the museum we see moss on display, whose anxious merry-go-round leads us to a film-shot of moss, also trapped in its own orbit, which leads us back to that primordial moss and its absurd survival in museum rotation. It is an image within the image within the museum image. And, understandably, it summons that etymological ancestor of the narcissus plant, condemned to live off its own reflection in the water. However, what frightens us here is not the moss's narcissism itself, but its inability, like Narcissus, to detach itself from its own image and fade away, to wither, and finally hear the last salutation of the nymph Echo. It lives within the image, of the image and for the image, and its relentless motion is the harshest judgement, more severe than that of Narcissus. We have left behind us the danger Narcissus’s reflection poses upon longevity. The reflection here, not in the mirror, but in the all-encompassing, banally repetitive Black Mirror atmosphere, reminds us that we have forgotten, that is, that “our entire functional civilisation caught up in the euphoria of production forgets one essential, vital function – the function of death, the function of destruction” (Baudrillard 1985: 177).
In Kojić’s absurdity that never ends, this impression of the dangerous triviality of technology is eerie, it incessantly circulates like a real perpetuum mobile. What has this to do with museums and their lives? Well, we may claim that the museum, just like the Self-Sustaining System of Absurdity, lacks that vital function of destruction, which in the museum's case resembles scrapping, discarding – all parts of collecting. Also, we are not sure that Narcissus and this tormented moss spend their only life immersed in their own image; maybe someone else has such a lifestyle from which they have made a long-lasting perpetuum stabile, in which there is no room for change, where there are no other, strange images. In short, maybe technology is not the only one to have to brag about how it is in a self-sustaining system of absurdity with nature.
The museum anatomy lesson at hand has taught us this by focusing on the question of what happens when non-museum images are dissected by the museum. It is a very delicate procedure in which, as we have seen, in the museum case, it is worth determining one’s dioptre and paying attention to the musealisation of one's own experience. The museum lens is deceptive when exclusively used to look at the world, in the same ways that the view seen exclusively through the microscope of science is also misleading. In the end, it is difficult to see the creases on the painted drapery, and even more unclear to the eyes: why in god’s name are they hanging! A long time ago, Max Imdahl held a lecture on art for Bayer factory workers, in search of a common language and understanding of the visual (see: Imdahl 1986). More recently, Stevan Rundo held a lecture on remembering and its vitality in the museum world, led by the same urge – in search of a common language and understanding of the life course of memory. How static, untouched and stiflingly boring is the life of the museum object longing for utopias. We have witnessed this through a philosophical experiment and finally, we understand that the effort to persevere in one’s love of one’s self-image – whether evolved from the point of museum or technology – may be both absurd and fatal.
These were all topics tackled by Unprotected Witness No. 2 artworks, while staring at the only mortal Gorgon in the eyes, without fear that they too will be turned into stone. It would be crazy to fear petrification after Medusa's long presence inside the museum. She has made it her home, we are used to her in museums, we have become accustomed to museum stones, and now it is time to approach her with other means and teach her to look in a more relaxed way, without those punishing urges. Chairs should also be brought in, equipment for museum gymnastics should be removed, the silence reduced, and the noise increased. This is precisely part of the healing process, of abolishing the idea that the health of museums is maintained exclusively through intensive care and led by a dedicated, somewhat jealous and somewhat selfish preservation of objects.
Do you remember what Juvenal said – a healthy mind in a healthy body? And how we mentioned that that super old saying lives on in mime-like form? This is quite true, because Juvenal did not want to say “if the body is healthy, the mind will be healthy,” or vice versa. He wrote about the futility of human desires and in this regard pointed out that the only thing that should be asked of the gods is the following: “You should pray for a healthy mind in a healthy body (Orandum est ut sit mens sana in corpore sano)”. A healthy body, therefore, is not the prerequisite for ensuring the health of the mind – it is both, and their joining depends on forces beyond our control (Jovanović 2006). If Unprotected Witness No. 2 speaks of the futility of museum desires by placing emphasis on human ones, then perhaps instead of a mime we should apply Juvenal's original and say: You should pray for a healthy spirit in a healthy museum; to God or the gods, perhaps, if you wish; to authority or authorities, why not. But it is quite possible, as the dissection of the museum's anatomy has already shown us, that for a healthy mind in a healthy museum, to begin with, it is enough to ask the museum itself to regularly make those long-scheduled check-ups with the ever-stubborn and experiment-minded doctor Tulp.
Lou Reed – Metal Machine Music, double LP, RCA Records, July 1975
One of the most popular urban legends in rock & roll music is that Lou Reed recorded MMM because he owed his record label one more album. Of course, the real truth may be different. As a fact, prior to MMM, Lou Reed enjoyed experimenting with strange sounds/noise, and in a couple of instances, close to his death, he performed all of it in concerts. Whatever the real story, the double album was released in July 1975 and included four sides, each 16 minutes long or, more precisely, until we remove the gramophone needle. I tried several times to listen to the album in digital format. At times I would get really excited about the sounds I heard, but there were also moments when I could not go on listening. I recently bought MMM on vinyl and listened to it in its entirety. The fact is that Metal Machine Music is one of the first avant-garde albums with “noise”, not real music (although, this is debatable) and the first by as famous an artist as Lou Reed. The recording technique itself has been described many times and almost always different sections have been mentioned. Maybe there is some official truth, but I prefer not to think too much about it and try to immerse in the sounds of the album. And, you react differently depending on how you listen to it. Turn up the volume and it is pure noise. Turn it low and hear thousands of crickets singing their ode to the sun, on an evening in the African savannah. The Internet offers slower versions, versions with special left and right channels, etc. This is a masterpiece coming from a character who knew how to make a load of great and a lot of utterly boring stuff. I find it is torture to listen to Walk on the Wild Side. This, is not.
Does anybody have notes for the ukulele?
I love singing this in the bathroom.
This is great to listen to when you want to concentrate and need something going on in the background, something that doesn't distract. Except that it does.
Sounds better after the 12th listening when you haven’t slept for 3 days because you are afraid to fall asleep, because you have already listened to this so many times and it became an earworm. If you are reading this, help!
I proposed to a girl with this album 4 years ago. She left me.
After the 40th minute a colleague finally said something.
Is there a 10-hour version of this? I would like to teach my neighbours a lesson.
I worked minimal wage and spent $20 on this album. I read about it and how people either love or hate this record. I came home and realised I wasted my entire day’s salary on this shit.
Fantastic tune for a mental institution.
Something tells me hell sounds like this.
I wonder how many nervous breakdowns this album has produced?
This is what my wife and I played at our wedding.2
Went to get some fags in 1992 and mysteriously ended up in Australia. He plays/-ed in Soviet Valves, Smrts, Zerodent, Sokkol, Bassta! Pex and Gutter Guitar, Omega is the Alpha and Alex Robokapov… and many others, and has released over 30 LPs, played across Australia and the world.