© 2022

A Sensory Digital/Visual Dialect: With Djuro Selec

Interview, Words MARYAM ARSHAD / MA



In this conversation between FAYD and Djuro Selec, we break down the intricacies of her digital/visual dialect. Selec’s canvas is a sensory amalgamation of communicating and translating. Glitches that wreak havoc across the canvas and decisive colour that shifts and triggers movement. Just as these glitches operate as agents of resistance, Selec’s work lives between the virtual and real, as manifestations of an “unscientific method”.

In a distorted, uncontrolled manner - unlike casual and condensed language we use - Selec speaks ina complex manner through ideas that fire across and trigger one another. How can it ask more questions than it answers? And in doing so, what do we hear?

There is no definitive perspective that dominates Selec’s works. Instead, they are both connected and disjointed by the changing grids and pixels contained within. On occasion the outcome is more fluid and attractive, other times it provokes risk and retaliation. Unlike an algorithm error set in place only to eradicate negative feedback, Selec warns and allures you towards tempting digital worlds.

Just past close, Selec participated in a joint exhibition “Ambient Anxiety” with Elina Yumasheva, detailing the collision between environmental helplessness and technological dependency. Here, Selec replicated the visual and sensory overload of screens through misshapen gradient and colour, leaving behind an attractive chaos to settle. 


MA What is your nuanced visual dialect?

DS My visual language is rooted in digital design conventions, retrofuturist nostalgia and modern painting. I translate the language of pixels, grids, and trendy design styles onto the canvas with spray paint and masking, imitating graphic design software tools in the process. These are things like pastel gradients, lots of Millennial Pink and Gen Z yellow, hard edges and retro styles like vaporwave and virtual utopia, that I recreate in a distorted, pixelated way so that they are familiar but out of reach of comprehension. Their seductiveness mimics the attraction of a screen - it pulls us in almost involuntary.

MA Is your dialect - and its conversations and outcomes - pushed in certain directions depending on environments and processes?

DS Absolutely. I am often asked about where I stand in this somewhat tech-luddite sounding debate. The fact is that I am unsure, so I explore both ends and it shows in my work. One painting, for example, Undo – will celebrate the capabilities of software up to a point, while another, like Vertigo – will caution against the oversaturation of screens. My immediate environment affects these outcomes as well, where I am more eloquent on canvas when I am in my remote studio without much distraction, virtual or otherwise.


MA Would you say that you connect somewhat to these technological lives and spaces?

DS I am absolutely fused with the virtual! Half of my social life happens online. I have also in a way “outsourced” my memory, my writing and my life admin into the cloud. I use a lot of “quantifiable self” apps and gadgets like iWatch and wellness apps. My work has for 15 years been exclusively digital and remote, and I have now adapted these mechanisms into my art-related work as well. It is no wonder the digital has sort of seeped into my analogue canvas.

MA How do you think tech has influenced notions of time and nature? Is it something that tech is able to shape indirectly or would you say it’s more perceived that tech is enforcing specific change?

DS The Internet has made the world smaller and brought us together across borders and ideologies. We can reach for answers faster than before and search a huge depository of human knowledge. Time and space have been flattened in a sense, for better or for worse. However, some of the machinations behind computer interaction are forcefully changing our habits. Losing a sense of time when online, for example. The maker of the code behind the infinite scroll said it was his biggest mistake. Our focus is being diluted. We forgot the joy in being bored and we reach for our pacifiers - smartphones at every opportunity.

Marshall McLuhan has famously said The Medium Is The Message, meaning the media we use changes us more than the information that it carries. Similarly, his contemporary John M. Culkin has concluded that “We shape our tools, and thereafter, they shape us”, echoing the sentiment of how society adapts to progress but is risking irreparable change in the process.


MA The glitch can be an agent of resistance. How does this speak to tech that can influence our contemporary lives?

DS The glitch is an annoying and almost comical side-effect of technological progress. It doesn’t make big problems but it simply never fails to show, and that makes it such a character. It interrupts our distractions, so to say. When we think our systems are perfect as we built them, the glitch proves us wrong and reminds us of our humanity. In traditional textile art, weavers from various cultures would add intentional mistakes, sort of proto-glitches, to ward off evil spirits. In Navajo culture, this would be done to preserve the soul of the weaver, as asking for perfection has a high price.

Today we have compression algorithm errors or inconsistencies in the code that bring about glitches, this humanity into the perfection of the machine. Legacy Russel for example, uses glitch as a metaphor for disruption of the gender-binary setup of our society. People who do not “fit” into this system built without them in mind, have to “glitch” to create space for themselves. She calls it “remixing” from within.

MA A visual sensory overload. What environments do you think possess an overload that can tie in with technoculture?

DS In my experience, any space that brings an overload of information: visual, informational, sensory. Standing in Piccadilly is pretty overwhelming to me, but then again, laying on an overcrowded beach has a similar effect. I guess the ones that tie with technoculture would be those that carry a technocapitalist agenda with them: a crowded tube train where ads for a personal finance app want your attention. That resembles scrolling in search of information, knowing your destination but being bombarded with pop-ups along the way. Duty-free shops in airports are similar. You could be late for a flight, but you have to navigate a labyrinth of perfumes and screens of ads before finding the flight info. These are all liminal, but overwhelming spaces, the limbos of contemporary life.


MA How do different ideas intertwine across your works? Via direct connections, which are prolonged and deep, interfering and causing stops? Or operating in the same manner as code, via glitches, technological sparks, firing links and triggers?

DS That is such a beautiful way you put it – the ideas do spark and trigger one another in my work. And they absolutely do cause breakages and stops. Some of them contradict, and I have to research further or do more work to resolve them. However, a piece of work for me is complete when it is just on the cusp of being resolved. Asking more questions than answering is the sweet spot for visual art. It is a deep curiosity that feeds this very unscientific method of mine.

MA Do you think idealisation interferes/interacts with tech spaces in any way?

DS I’m not sure I understand what you mean by “idealisation”. Do you mean the utopian sentiment behind tech advancements? That depends on how saturated a space is with a particular tech. I believe when it works, it is a perfect flow, but when it breaks, it is a disaster. Think of system failures at train stations and Tesla cars not unlocking in freezing weather. The ideal regularly meets its limit. Idealisation then changes a space by making us aware that it can go wrong. Kind of how Paul Virilio argued that technological advancement is overshadowed by our awareness of its disastrous possibilities.

Djuro Selec is a digital designer and fine artist reflecting on the impact of technoculture on our perception, currently focused on a very intimate, visual and time sensory perception that has changed with our overexposure to screens.




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