Dejan Grba is a media artist, author and educator.
His artistic investigation is focused on the perceptive, cognitive and cultural aspects of constitution, representation and interpretation of the individual notion of reality.
He has exhibited and curated internationally at venues including Pro Arts Gallery Oakland, ISEA Manizales and Hong Kong, ZKM Karlsruhe, GfZK Leipzig, Montevideo Amsterdam, Museum in Progress Vienna, <rotor> and CCN Graz, Atelier als Supermedium Hague, IFA Berlin, MoCA Belgrade, MoCVA Novi Sad, MoCA Salon Belgrade, Dom omladine Gallery and Remont Gallery Belgrade.
In 2018 he was invited by the Rectorate of University of the Arts in Belgrade to establish and chair the international interdisciplinary MA program The Art of Digital Media. He is the founding chair of New Media department at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Belgrade where he teaches Transmedia Research Studio. In 2007 he was a guest professor with Computer Art program at the College of Visual and Performing Arts, Syracuse University, New York. In 2005 he established and since then teaches Poetics of Digital Art seminar at Digital Art interdisciplinary doctoral program that he also participated in the developing for University of the Arts in Belgrade.
He has published papers in international journals and has given lectures and workshops at various venues in Europe, North and South America, and Asia.
Interests and Approach
I initiated and developed my art career exploring the conceptual, methodological and technological potentials of drawing and painting. My current investigation of the perceptive, cognitive and cultural aspects of visual phenomenology is focused on the various ways of the constitution, representation and interpretation of the individual notion of reality in the symbolic and narrative structures, primarily informed by the insights in physics, biology, evolutionary psychology and cognitive sciences.
My approach to art is conceptual and performative. It is motivated by the need for learning, for self-transformation and for overcoming the personal limitations and restraints through creative process.
Production, Methodology and Style
In production I combine interdisciplinary research, media experiments and generative procedures. My working methodology is based on the principles of reduction, clarification and optimization in making compact, efficient projects and presenting them concisely. I consider technical knowledge and skills as the prerequisites for a proper realization of artistic ideas, and I establish my relationship with the digital technology through critical understanding and challenging its creative potentials, (ideo)logical imperatives, shortcomings and contradictions.
I am stylistically open, with no ambition of creating a monolithic and recognizable poetic identity. The accent is on both the intuitive and rational play with the challenges of my imaginativeness, inventiveness, flexibility and humor.
Appreciation of Art
Although the epistemological and political impact of contemporary art is marginal, I believe that it should always question and interrogate the relevant aspects of human experience, knowledge, notions and relations, and offer that questioning to the audience in an intelligent, straightforward and unpretentious way.
Life itself is far more interesting than art or any other isolated realm of human experience, but art refreshes that simple insight by inspiring our specifically human need to transcend our circumstances.
Approach, Interests, Methodology and Style
As a special form of creative thinking for narrative construction, writing is essential for my work. It is motivated by my interests, insights and impressions of artistic and cultural phenomena, and it is focused on the conceptual, cognitive, technological, poetic and political aspects of visual arts, new media, digital art and digital culture. My writing methodology is the interrelation of interdisciplinary research, artistic practice, inquiry and critical reflection, and I strive for the simplicity and clarity of classic style.
Language and Theoretical Discourse
Language is a powerful relational tool for building knowledge, experiences and beliefs but it is not omnipotent or absolutely dependable. Its limitations manifest through the discrepancy between the direct experience which is continual and heterogeneous, and the semantic systems which are discreet, homogeneous and require intelligent interpretation. And although the theoretical discourse about the arts is therefore relative, conditional and often unreliable, its meanings are not infinitely malleable or arbitrary. The key poetic factors of the arts are universal since they emerge from the evolution of human nature and culture, so they can be addressed rationally and evaluated objectively. These linguistic peculiarities require responsibility and vigilance from both the writer and the reader.
I believe that key concepts of art education stem primarily from our appreciation and extensive understanding of the subjects, achievements, consequences and potentials of the arts in relation with science, technology and other fields of human creativity. The identity of the arts is both reflected in and influenced by the society, so the art education—as well as the arts—should examine, criticize and overcome its own biases and its social circumstances rather than opportunistically serve the requirements of current political or economic trends. This demands that art educators be honestly devoted and efficient in their advocacy for the quality and integrity of education as a keystone of our civilization.
I see the art education as a process and environment for dynamic, stimulating exchange of ideas, notions, thoughts and feelings between the creative individuals of diverse professional experiences, personalities and cultural profiles. I establish my relationship with students through layered personal interaction, mutual appreciation and respect, as opposed to vertical transfer of knowledge, demagoguery, imposition of irrational authority or indoctrination, which are among the most harmful flaws of institutional (art) education. Creative potential can evolve only through individuation, reflection and problem-solving, without relying on predefined models, and the artist can be inventive only by continuously combining talent, hard work, reasoning and learning the practical, technological and theoretical features of art.
The point of studying art emerges from our wonder, care, need and interest for exploring art as a unique human faculty, and the condition of successful studying is learning how to learn. Through active, individual examination, the successful students seek, recognize and select the beneficial learning experiences offered by the available academic programs and resources, as opposed to exploiting the superficial security of institutional routine or to riding the popular tactics of “easy” studying. That is why I emphasize that in every academic environment, the students are chiefly responsible for the quality and outcomes of their education.
The programs I founded and the courses I teach are focused on media art experiment, transdisciplinary research, generativity and interactivity. I approach these disciplines combining openness toward their expressive potentials with critical edge towards their cultural context, ethical consequences and political implications.
My teaching style reflects my artistic, authorial and academic experiences, it is flexible, expansive and collaborative, and I expose students to a wide range of topics from the arts, science, technology, theory and popular culture. The accent is on combining transdisciplinary research with divergent techniques for the creation of inventive, coherent, engaging and socially relevant artworks. The students are free to choose the ideas, topics, methodologies, forms and media for their projects with consideration for conceptual cogency, material and logistic feasibility. The parallel accent is on the intellectually open artistic experiment seen as a sound balance of personal motivation and interests, studio work, technical expertise, theoretical learning, critical thinking, assessment and evaluation.
I support all poetic orientations and stylistic preferences of my students providing that they be honest, permanently examined and improved. I put high demands before students, expecting their uncompromising commitment to art, concentration, intelligence, open-mindedness, responsibility, initiative in mastering skills and competences, and motivation based on (self)critical thinking.
Among my alumni are Vladimir Todorović, Blake Marques Carrington, Slavica Panić, Ivan Grubanov, Dylan Moore, Veljko Onjin, DigitGroup, Aljoša Ninković, Ana Nedeljković, Damjan Kovačević, Jelena Vitorović, Denis Kozerawski, Nemanja Nikolić, Isidora Krstić, Nina Ivanović, Julijana Protić, Dragana Grbić, Ján Skaličan, Nataša Stojanović, Ana Banduka, Deana Petrović, Laurel Severin, Martina Petrović, Jelena Nikolić and Aleksandra Kovačević.