Mextonia is the festival of "Transgrafiti Muralism" that took place in Tallinn in June 2017. The festival featured 60 transgrafiti artists from Estonia, México, and the rest of the world. Murals were produced in over 25 locations all over Tallinn and cover a total surface of more than five thousand square meters of wall. During the festival this public space/wall turned into a large mural.
The inspiration for this design starts with the Estonian cyberneticist Boriss Tamm (1930-2002), whose best known works include studies of the processes of modelling and system programming. Tamm was the second Director of the Institute of Cybernetics (1969-76) and Rector of Tallinn University of Technology (1976-1991), and was also a member of the Estonian Academy of Sciences.
Cybernetics, as defined by MIT mathematician Norbert Wiener, is „the scientific study of control and communication in the animal and the machine.“ In what is known as a closed-loop system, or „circular causal“ relationship, action by the system generates some change in its environment and that change is registered in the system, which triggers system change. Simply put, it is the study of how digital, mechanical and biological systems process information, react to processed information, and then adapt to improve their ability to further process and react to information. Learning, cognition, adaption, social control, communication, and connectivity are some of the concepts studied by cyberneticists.
The consideration of communication as a closed-loop system of information Exchange is taken even further in the media theory studies of Canadian professor, Marshall McLuhan, who proposed that new forms of media, such as television, change the perceptions of societies. Television as a medium, rather than the content, „shapes and controls the scale and form of human association“, as expressed during the cybernetic art movement of the 1960s. Feedback involved in the work takes precedence over visual, aesthetic, and material concerns. At that time, hand-held video technology had just been released onto the commercial market and became available as a medium to artists who focused on the visual effects of electronic feedback. The closed-loop systems of cybernetic principles are reflected in the visual effects produced by video, as well as the medium’s “ability to continuously process new data in real time and render it for visual display”. Artist Roy Ascott considered art itself as a “cybernetic system comprised of a network of feedback loops between the artist, artwork, and audience.”
With this correlation established between the work of Boriss Tamm and the cybernetic art movement, I intend to celebrate Estonia’s technological tradition and Boriss Tamm’s achievements in cybernetics through my mural for Mextonia 2017. With a colour palette inspired by Estonia’s flag, my mural incorporates a figurative subject with video distortion effects explored by early cybernetic artists. This mural will echo the work achievements of past contributors, and inspire future generations of technological innovators of Estonia.