Oana Clitan

conceptueel - digitaal - digitale technologie - installatie - Internet - media

Oana Clitan is an artist and designer exploring how language and contemporary communication are influenced by technology and media.

In her multidisciplinary practice she likes to remix and recontextualize existing materials - contemporary visuals found on the internet or old archive materials. Her works range from multi-screen installations to intricate drawings and digitally printed textiles.

Through building various narratives and dystopian scenarios, in her latest projects she addresses themes such as propaganda and rhetorics about technology, the post-truth society and the expression of online identity. One persistent point of interest is the transition between communicating with text to communicating with images in online conversations and the use of animated GIFs as rhetorical devices.


Visions of 010 melting - The immersive multi-screen installation showcases results of a visual research where I try to create a futuristic or sci-fi city using archive materials. Collections of images from the city archive of Rotterdam (Stadsarchief), together with my own photos and screenshots from Google Maps are fed to an AI image generator, resulting in eerie animations of a constantly changing city. The AI-generated visuals create a feeling of atemporality: it is not clear what is real and what not, if we are seeing the past, present or future and what is made by a human or by an algorythm. The sound design by Sebastian Pappalardo also includes a mix of archive sounds and contemporary field recordings from Rotterdam. The installation is part of a bigger project: creating a future dystopian Rotterdam inspired by the reconstruction politics of the city after the bombing of the Second World War, reimagined in today’s context of constant urban renewal, displacement of socio-economic groups and the development of surveillance technology. The installation was first presented during the Motel Mozaïque festival at Theater Rotterdam in April 2022 under the title 'Pixels of Lost Time and Space' (curated by Nikki Giorgiou, in co-production with V2_ Lab for Unstable Media).
Pixels of Lost Time and Space - 'Pixels of lost time and space' is a visual research involving creative re-use of archival materials in projects with science fiction or alternative-reality scenarios, focusing on experimental video and animation. Through different techniques I try to create scifi visuals starting from archival photos of Rotterdam: using different Photoshop tools, AI-generated images and videos and 3D visuals. In collaboration with 3D artist Ryan Cherewaty we built a 3D city where we used buildings and textures from archive materials. For this experiment we kept some 2D elements to show the sources of the images. The project is being continued as development for a short film.
Electrons on the threshold - single screen video installation (8 min) exploring the social consequences of the rise of surveillance in public and virtual space. The project is set in a future Rotterdam, which has been rebuilt again after a mysterious disaster. It follows a fictional narrative inspired by the reconstruction politics of Rotterdam after the bombing of the Second World War, reimagined in today’s context of constant urban renewal, displacement of socio-economic groups and the development of surveillance technology. Themes of nostalgia and estrangement are intertwined with issues of privacy and censorship. By exploring how catastrophes are used as clean slates for creating ‘new and improved’ urban and virtual spaces, the project dives into how this can also be used as an opportunity for new ways of governmental or corporate control to be inserted. The project started during a residency in Dresden, Germany in autumn 2020, where I started to research how Dresden and Rotterdam evolved after being bombed during WW2, how this disaster was presented in the media and became part of the cities' identities, as well as the social, political, ideological and economical factors that influenced their rebuilding. The research become the basis for a story set in a future Rotterdam. In the video we experience the perspective of Victoria, who lives in Nieuwe Erasmus Plein, the rich part of the city where the citizens’ data is sold for profit. Through a series of video messages, she is trying to contact her best friend April, who chose to keep her privacy and stay in a poor neighbourhood.
Future news, official screens - video installation, 5 videos/13min, mixed media, 2019; The project uses past and present news rhetorics to make a speculation about how information will be presented in the future - and by whom. It explores a future scenario where, after a certain event, electrical devices are damaged. This causes the production of new visual content to be momentarily not possible. The only means of visual expression are some rescued materials, which are used by the government to provide information about new developments of the crisis. The installation takes the form of a news station on the street, the news being a more exaggerated form of today's tendencies to base everything on opinions and emotions rather than facts. Themes adressed are the relationship between private news media, governments and corporations, post truth and the current attitude towards official news. Developed part of the Open Archief project initiated by Nederlands Instituut voor Beeld en Geluid and Het Nieuwe Instituut. Exhibited at: Mind Over Matter (Technische Sammlungen, Dresden, DE - march 2021), The New Current (Spaanse Kubus, Rotterdam, NL, 2020), Open Archief (Het Nieuwe Instituut, Rotterdam, NL, 2019/2020), Open Archief - Dutch Design Week (Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, NL, 2019).
Future news, official screens – Trailer - Trailer for the video installation, 2019. In the installation above there are five screens, each showing the broadcast of a different character trying to explain the current situation. The trailer features all these five voices intertwined. Past and present news rhetorics are used to make a speculation about how information will be presented in the future - and by whom.
LEX4.1 - public installation, 4 screens, 2019, developed with Nicole Sciarone; LEX4.1 is an AI system which operates in a dystopian future in the current space of Gallery Lecq in Rotterdam. At its core an information android, LEX4.1 was designed to connect the areas around the Rotterdam Parksluizen with each other, give information about the neighbourhood and changes in the urban planning to citizens passing by, but also to manage technical tasks connected to the lock. Its main role was to keep citizens informed, happy and safe. In this future scenario, LEX4.1 is reflecting about its role in the neighbourhood and its condition, and is ultimately a personification of the gallery building.
Disputation between rocks and hearts - installation, looping GIF projections on stones, 2018; The installation explores contemporary visual communication and makes a connection to its broad history - the transition from communicating through figurative images (as cave paintings) to text - and now back to communicating primarily with figurative imagery in the form of photos, GIFs and video. The projection features a series of GIFs which are assembled in order to have a conversation, referencing Sumerian disputations, short stories written on clay tablets addressing philosophical topics such as humanity’s place in the world. Exhibited at Apa Kabar? What's New? (group, MAMA, Rotterdam, 2019, curated by Maria Lamslag) and '...all else is poor translation' (solo, White Cuib, Cluj-Napoca, Romania, 2019).
Pulse - Collection of silk scarves, 2018/2019; Pulse is a collection of conceptual silk scarves, a project born out of my exploration of the influence of technology in our everyday life and love for ornaments and decoration. Each finely printed silk scarf combines bold color palettes with intricate patterns made out of electrical cables and plugs. The collection aims to raise awareness about the effects of always being surrounded by technology in the material and virtual sense and brings this idea in the physical world, closer to the body. The main devices themselves are missing from the scarves, visible are only the auxiliaries which help power and connect them, making them so indispensable in our lives. The scarves also act as an ode to these objects which will most probably disappear in the future and become artefacts as technology evolves. Photographer: Nikos Kostopoulos
Goodbye expectations. Hello you. - Installation, mixed media, 2017; A research into the connection between the home and consumerism, focusing on Ikea catalogues. The installation points out hidden mechanisms and rethorics of mass media identified in Guy Debord’s book ‘The Society Of The Spectacle’. The gallery was turned into an Ikea showroom dotted with artworks about this theme. I made various art pieces and installations using ready-mades, printed textiles, drawings and collages to reflect on consumerism. In the exhibition I deconstruct the language used in the 2017 Ikea catalogue through the use of expressive typography with the purpose of pointing out these hidden mechanisms and rhetorics of The Spectacle. Solo exhibition at Visual Kontakt gallery in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, 2017, curated by Olimpia Bera.
Terms and Conditions - Drawings, 2017; A series of concept-drawings as the starting point of a research about language used in Terms and Conditions texts, particularly when it comes to collecting and sharing information. An obvious starting point is Facebook, which is where the phrase below comes from. The crochet shape references welcome slogans which are mostly empty of meaning in private households, but the lace itself is also a surface of carefully connected points that form a network.