Contemporary computer programs can generate logos and ads, memes and songs, artistic images, realistic photographs and apstract animations, commercial and political propaganda. The All-Aligned are a project in the field of generative algorithmic art, for which I've created such an AI: a generator of infinite random flags, an open source expert system for automated vexillology.
By generating flags, the system also generates an infinite number of micro-identities, which multiply in a fractal manner, dividing themselves ad infinitum. Visualizing the fragmentary nature of our digital lives, the All-Aligned ask: what is a society in which we, as users of digital systems, identify ourselves with automatically generated symbols, a society whose identities are driven by algorithms?
The term “anarchy”, for example, increases the probability that the layout will be diagonal, that the palette will be black and red, and that a graphic version of the anarchist letter A will be extracted from the character base. Similarly, the term “ecological” is associated with shades of green, the term “student” with emblems student campuses, etc.
It is up to the users to select the parameters (ideas and concepts), adjust the sliders and click Generate. With each new click, the software automatically produces completely new flags according to the entered parameters.
Currect version of the software is published on GitHub as a free open source project, under the GNU General Public Licence v3.0.
The project was launched during the artist-in-residency program They: Live – student lives revealed through context-based art practices. The residency, supported by the Creative Europe and the Ministry of Culture and Information of the Republic of Serbia, took place on student campuses in Belgrade, Madrid, Rijeka, Podgorica, and Novi Sad. As part of the residency, the selected artists and curators spent a month on the student campus of their city.
In the spring of 2022, as a selected artist, I moved to the Student City of Belgrade, with the intention of exploring student symbols, identities, and ways of life in the analog and digital world. Over 200 students participated in the workshops. They used the generator I made in order to choose their individual flags.
In June 2022, we created an exhibition in the Students' City Cultural Center (SCCC) Gallery in Belgrade. The exhibition showed the flags created during student workshops. It raised questions about the relationship between technology and ideology. When we choose a flag, did we really choose it ourselves or did we just get caught on an automated hook? While scrolling and liking release our dopamine and serotonin, is our freedom of choice just a delusion? Do we rule the symbols or do they rule us? And in general, are there aesthetic solutions for structural problems?
The All-Aligned project was created in Belgrade, the city which is a half century old birth place of a Non-Aligned Movement. It was a global movement against the Cold War, imperialism, and the identitarian division of the world. Yugoslavia played a significant role in the movement.
Being born on the eve of the breakup of Yugoslavia and the fall of the Berlin Wall, when the power of the movement was alredy waning, I learned more about the Non-Aligned by travelling in Africa than by living in Serbia. I grew up in Pančevo, a city between the Balkans and Mitteleurope, between Latin and Cyrillic alphabets, punk and Sevdah music, Orthodox and Catholic faith, within a specific identity mixture, during a time when Yugoslavia was dissolving from identity fractures and the entire sky was covered by different flags. I was a nerdy child, I loved atlases, and so, from early on, flags became a source of both pain and delight.
Sometimes it seems to me that what happened locally in my childhood is now happening globally, and that it is mediated by digital systems like these. That's why the mathematical and programming work on All-Aligned was as emotional for me as drawing an image or writing a poem.
Maida Gruden, coordinator of the They: Live project and SCCC's Head of Visual Arts Department, Andrija Stojanović, producer and SCCCs' associate for international cooperation, Ana Pinter, director and choreographer, Lav Mrenović, curator, and Jelena Pejović, graphic designer, worked with me on this project. I would like to thank Miloš Rančić, Jacques Laroche and Antonije Petrović for technical and programming support.
Also, here is the group of students who, with a help of Ana Pinter and me, created the event All-Aligned in Movement: Teodora Simić, Svetlana Ilić, Teodora Kozomara, Vanja Ivanović, Niks Božović, Teodora Jevtić, Željko Petrović and Miron Petrik Popović.
Uroš Krčadinac, fall 2022.