NEON SKY / photography

Technique: Inkjet print on the backlight foil in the lightbox
Size: 3 x 40x40 cm / 100x66 cm

Neon Sky is a series of photographs portraying night visions of Rijeka, Split, Trieste and Zagreb. Photographs have been realized as light boxes, objects with their own source of light. They show electric city light merging with starry sky's pulsating glare into a unique, undefined, almost abstract cosmic scene, while the accretions of light recall the galaxies.

Photo documentation
Set-up of the exhibition ”Photodistorzija” at the Small Gallery, Poreč, Croatia
Coordinated by Petra Počanić

Video documentation
Set-up of the exhibition at the Rigo Gallery, Novigrad, Croatia
Curated by Branka Benčić


Neon Sky / set-up in Rigo gallery from Goran Skofic on Vimeo.


Text from catalogue

Cityscapes, by night

Media appetite for consuming the architectural images is enormous, and the perception of architecture, like any other object, becomes a part of simulated reality.
City experience is mediated by media, ranging from the paradigms of telecommunication networks and internet technologies as the analogues of urban structures, to various artistic and non-artistic media which not only mediate the city space, but also shape and transform the city into an image. Photography, film, TV and other visual media mediate urban (city) space, attributing it with new connotational layers, while various media explore diverse modes by which urban vistas transform art production.
Video and photographs are the most frequent forms of artistic exploration of urban structure, the recordings of city and people. By transforming the city into an image, the works of artists break down and deconstruct that image, in this manner also deconstructing the usual representation models. New visual impressions, new technologies and possibilities of image (re)production and postproduction, confront the artists with a challenge of shaping the formal expression of kaleidoscopic consciousness. At the same time artists attempted to solve the enigma – how to present the overlapping discontinuity of metropolitan view by a single image.

In his two previous works – video Pilot 0.1 (2002) and photographic series Within the City (2007), Goran Škofić already announced his operating system and art strategies that affirm certain interest for articulating the subjects of existentialism and urbanity. The author continued this interest in a new photographic series, light boxes titled Neon Sky (2009).
A mosaic structure of these early works – video Pilot 0.1 (2002) as well as a series of collage photographs named Within the City (2007) - reveals the fragments of the world, that display how phenomena of contemporaneity - media, art, technology - intersect with social phenomena. Jump cuts in Pilot 0.1 - with its rapid fast cutting and split screens, with dissonant industrial sounds and heavy intermittent rhythm, the editing of "carnival structure" - as observed by Roxanna Marcoco in a catalogue of Here Tomorrow exhibition - host intersection of the fragmented scenes of masks with the images of construction, urban steel and concrete structures. The later series of digitally generated assemblages stresses fragmentation and decomposition. Here, the enclosed cyclic i.e. centrifugal compositions of works – buildings, roofs, chimneys , antennae and trees - narrow and close the centrally placed clefts of sky. -... cityscape, with all its architectures, information and events, squeezes its inhabitants, while an encounter with the city (from a frog perspective) that pulls everything in... can be very much of a dead-end.... claims the author.

Big city lights in art – including literature, film, photography, paintings - and real life were always equally enchanting for both the artists and the "ordinary" people, observers with or without premeditation.
Neon Sky is a series of photographs portraying night vistas of Rijeka, Split, Trieste and Zagreb. Ever since Van Gogh, the motifs of night sky and night scenes are found with numerous artists. They are also present with Croatian painter Nenad Vorih and can be found in some most recent productions, like a magic, immersive bi-channel projection of Orbita Rossa by Italian artist Grazia Toderi, shown at this year's Venice Biennial. This work's formal features, mode of media realization and radiating aura render it closest to Škofić's work. Rijeka, Trieste and Split are cities connected by their stratified common cultural, geographical and historical contexts. These are all sea cities, sharing similar urban typology, development, history and culture. However, the actual portrayed cities or their names are perhaps not so much decisive or so essential for Škofić's Neon Sky, since that which is actually presented is crucial, along with the manner of its presentation. This includes the illuminated city geometry and the flickering kaleidoscope of colour and light. Neon Sky presents a night scene, portrays the city vista, through a darkness of the night, from afar and from the air, from an elevated viewpoint, as opposed to photographs from a series Within the City, all shot from a low viewpoint, the so called frog perspective. Here, a change of perspective i.e. observer's position, speaks also of the change in the symbolic power of one who is observing. Photographs have been realized as light boxes, objects with their own source of light. They show electric city light merging with starry sky's pulsating glare into a unique, undefined, almost abstract cosmic scene, while the accretions of light recall the galaxies. Like an imaginary city from Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities. Nocturnal cityscapes are truly enchanting and have an almost magic effect. Borders between earthly and celestial get erased. All the lights shine with variegated glare. It is claimed that contemporary city has no more borders that delimit a coherent and homogenous whole, but that we inhabit a fractural space where forms are disintegrated.

The scenes from Neon Sky have been created in a time of paradoxical image-logic, where postproduction and simulation dominate reality, while newly made "delirious mutations" of urban matrix go through digital manipulation of forms, colour contrasts and light, becoming multiplied like the facets of kaleidoscopic image. On the other hand, these night vistas remind us of the objectionable "night vision" seen from an airborne perspective, as if produced by the observing devices from military technology. A photograph in a light box can be observed as a screen image. It possesses the light that comes "from within", and it is known that the experience of electric light makes up the foundation of visuality in contemporary era. A light box is a dominant form of presentation in Neon Sky by Goran Škofić. These light boxes – objects – have volume and enter the space like minimalist objects. As backlights, illuminated from behind with their own light source, they become screens and remind of frozen images and arrested projections. These transparent illuminated photos truly yield a new and different experience, as well as a sensation of watching. Because light attracts gaze. The scenes of neon sky, like TV screens, physically light up the same space they ideologically dominate with.

Branka Benčić