Virtual Fireflies Break Through


Virtual Fireflies finally actualised! On Saturday the 27th of July, after a whole day of events forming the Breakthrough experiment in Berlin, we jumped into this construction site to hang the first clusters. Peripheral worlds made contact and ignited a small caravan of mini-warriors.

This massive scaffold seemed to be inviting for rapid intervention. During days I observed it, we considered the possibility of a collaboration with Verena but it didn’t work out. I decided that I had to do it anyway. The site was too beautiful to remain untouched. The project, once again, became a mixture of a personal breakthrough – a matter of trespassing personal limitations – and a fictional breakthrough. Like it happened with other interventions I did last year, a big part of it was my personal confrontation with authority, my confrontation with that which is forbidden, a personal crossing of a fictional line that made itself felt – specially when crossed.


The intention of Virtual Fireflies being actualised was to establish communication with a fictional world through a cluster of hybrid objects. The objects are meant to work as carriers, allowing a signal to go through. Two peripheral worlds make contact through an object. But I realised there are some problems. I don’t consider the signal has gone through unless the receiver (listening port) is brought into the fiction. If the signal doesn’t complete the cycle – from the fictional world into actuality, from actuality to receiver, and from there the receiver is catapulted back into the fictional world – I consider communication broken. Where did the line break? From receiver back to fiction. Why? Because there is no reference to the fiction.

Us Up web

In this case then it all depends on whether the receiver is aware of the fiction of the virtual fireflies or not. When I poisoned CCTV cameras the fiction was present on the spot. A sign next to the cameras made it all clear to the passer-by. Here, with the fireflies is different. And the same happened with fishes on barbed wire or the open sores – I never realised open sores sounds quite funny!

On the plane back to London I started to think of ways of making the fiction present, of fixing the broken point along the line of communication between worlds. The notion of the passer-by started to become annoying, specially after having participated in an event like Breakthrough, where the audience is completely irrelevant. Events like this are made for participants, not for spectators. Spectators will get bored and annoyed. Participants will breakthrough.


Speaking to John Kemp, who happened to be in the same flight to London, I realised maybe it was time to get rid of the passer-by altogether. He suggested to base the experiments on the action. It made a lot of sense to me. The action as a culmination of a process of fictional infection. Working together with a group of people that slowly get into the fiction to finally complete the process with an action (a ritual) that aims at fabricating the final entry point. That way, the cycle is completed! Communication is established.


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  • Bio

    Olga carries practical and theoretical research in the field of media arts. She works as a co-editor with while she pursues a practice-based PhD at Goldsmiths. Her research project looks into assemblages of sunlight, human bodies and machines. She is particularly interested on subtle modes of communication across bodies of radically different nature. She looks at the ways in which electronic circuits, computational systems, endocrine processes and neurological happenings intermingle. The tools she develops are speculations about the undercurrents of body communication.
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