The Back Page: “Artificial River” Master program art project by Kristijonas Bakas PDF  | Print |  E-mail


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Part of Master program art project exhibited at “Kaunas biennial textile 11” called “Artificial River”

Vilnius Art Academy’s Master student, Kristijonas Bakas, Vilnius2011


While today’s world is sinking in huge problems the quagmire contemporary human has forgotten his competence and the possibility of solving them. Intuitively he leaves them for the future and future generations, who he does not realize might not yet survive to solve them at all. As long as his situation allows him to feel comfortable, he experiences his present as problem free. However, the fact is that these problems do exist in his immediate situation.

The biggest concern for me presently is to find a way to solve these problems.  Art is one of the language forms which is widely understood, which therefore makes it possible for one to declare and explain existing problems to many.

Entering my Master’s degree in Fine Art I formulated a very strange proposal with a theme where I aimed to solve one of the biggest problems: the closed dialogue between nature and human kind. I decided I would try to contact nature, try to talk with it and together create a result.

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Dealing with the fact that unless the contemporary human preserves and takes care of nature he will find himself extinct. I was talking to a bee keeper and he told me that if there were no beekeepers the human being would not exist at all. This is because originally bees need a very old forest to live in and these days almost none of it is left. The beekeepers recreate certain conditions for bees to continue existing.  Despite the fact that bees pollinate almost all food culture of the human being, he has still destroyed and continues to destroy these forests. We do have at least a few examples of the human preserving nature, but mostly where he directly uses or exploits it for his own needs. But it is no longer enough, since neglect of conserving nature has left greater negative effects.

So, I began to explore what I myself can do to take care of nature and by connecting with it create an outcome. As a textile artist I have always been curious about spiders and thought that together with them I might create something useful.  I therefore created the conditions for a spider to live in my house which would allow me to observe it easily.  This was just the simple bark of a tree which was easily turned around in order for me to photograph it from very close angles. The saddest thing about this story is that my spider soon dyed. The conditions for him were a failure, but it demonstrated to me my own mistakes concerning my plan. This was mainly my lack of knowledge about its natural surroundings.  It allowed me to understand that it is impossible to let the spider progress by removing him from his natural surroundings, as is the same for the bees who only survive when their natural surroundings are recreated.

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Furthermore, I understood that it is possible to help nature progress by not just taking from it, as is the case when bee hives are built near the fields, flowers,  animals and so on. I finally decided that I needed to upgrade some areas which have the greatest need for nature, which are areas where nature is no longer in existence. For instance, dead zones in oceans or factories, power plants and industry destroyed land.  I tried to think of what could mostly force some areas alive again, and that is obviously water as it is a source of life. I decided it should most probably come into those areas in the form of a river.

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Right after that I created a documentary film called “Skroblus”, which is the name of a river which has been officially declared as the most authentic river throughout the Baltic states. By travelling the length of the river from estuary to delta, I documented the working principals of a river and its surroundings. Furthermore, I studied the atmospheric circulation and water systems on earth and by doing so obtained enough knowledge to understand what I should do to make water flow. 

This knowledge obtained is based on few physical stages which are strangely sacred in a way, as they are based on the four elements of water, air, earth and fire. Firstly, water has to go through all its possible physical conditions: liquid, solid and gas. Secondly, air and earth have to become a space for water to flow. Finally, fire is a temperature controller for all of these elements and by changing the temperature it is possible to make all these elements move.

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In this installation, which forms part of my Master’s project, I built an apparatus which heats water by collecting the suns energy in a precise place. This apparatus is based on simple technology, consisting of a handmade magnifying glass (made from pvc panels) with water between the panels. The magnifying glass is enlarged in order to heat a large area and it can turn on two axes into the sunlight’s rays.  By increasing the temperature in that specific place it causes the water to start to boil. This illustrates how one of the forces which allow liquid water to change into gas is prepared for its function.

So now my next phase in the project is to make a path for water to travel along. It is still a long road ahead for me to create the conditions where the water can reach a high enough place to condensate and be transformed into rain. After it freezes and condensates, my intention is for the water to slowly flow down the same path again as a river.

My main concern in my Master’s project is to communicate the closed relationship between the human and nature. To make people aware that we should not forget that there are existing problems and it is each individuals own concern to solve them.  To show that we need to look at what we can do to bring change to this situation by connecting the human and nature.

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