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C o n t e m p o r a r y

a work by Jeff Scofield

A r t

R e v i e w


C o n t e m p o r a r y

A r t

R e v i e w

Grégoire Devin

Jeff Scofield

Nour Refaat

Alexandra Kononova

Kelvin Ke

Qiaodan Xiang

France

USA

Egypt

Russia

Singapore

United Kingdom/Spain

Jeff Scofield is an American artist who studied at the Ateliers des Beaux Arts de la Ville de Paris after earning his Master of Architecture degree at Columbia University in New York.

Through forms of different biomechanical techniques, I explore the level of authenticity through these movements, as well as comparing and contrasting human movements to machine (mechanical) movements, investigating the difference between human and machine. I would like to divulge myself further into the arts and health sector and explore the effects of these movements artistically while working with children with disabilities, and see if these technical movements would help improve their conditions.

I consider myself to be a pretty much selftaught artist. Though it might be correct only to a certain extent. I’ve developed my drawing and painting skills and learned the basics of the art history.

He migrated to Dubai 10 years ago, and is now a Director at the Dubai International Art Centre. Working at large and small scales, Jeff uses found materials to create original abstract paintings and installations in a minimalist style.

My natural tendency as a filmmaker is usually to work with narratives and storytelling. But as I developed as a media practitioner, I began working in nonnarratives and abstractions by exploring cinematic duration and I’ve spent 4 amazing stillness generated by long takes from fixed years with a very camera positions. I intuitive and have become passionate teacher increasingly absorbed who appreciated child’s own vision and in exploring the encouraged work in relationship of time different techniques. and duration with I consider this early experiencing moving images and engaging a period to be deep involvement with fundamental for my the viewers, both on an artistic growth and emotional aspect and development. on an intellectual one.

I am interested in exploring phenomena and the relationships that exist on a macroscopic as well as microcosmic level. Through practice, I am interested in revealing that which is overlooked. In my works, Macro and micro existences share graphic similarity. The macroscopic world is consist of microcosmic existences, this status can be a infinite circulation. My primary practice is printmaking and painting which is supported by a range of media, including installation, drawing and ceramics.


In this issue

Jeff Scofield Lives and works in Dubai Mixed media, Installation

Nour Refaat Lives and works in Cairo, Egypt Paiting, Mixed media

Alexandra Kononova Lives and works in Dartmouth, MA, USA Mixed media, Installation

Kelvin Ke Lives and works in Briston, UK Moving Images, Video and Film

Shih-Hong Chuang Lives and works in Taiwan New media

Ming-Chin Kuo Lives and works in China New media Ming_Chin Kuo

Shih-Hong Chuang

Christian Bøen

China

China

Norway

Ming-chin Kuo is a Guzheng player and the leader of Three PeopleMusic and a member of Tenrealms.

Shih-Hong Chuang is a new media artist and a member of Lin Peychwen+ Digital Art Lab from Taiwan.

He graduated from Chinese Music Department of National Taiwan University of Arts. Kuo's music is inspired and guided to the track of Chinese music by Prof. LiChiung Chang. Now, he is working with Shih-Hong Chuang to create a new Chinese music combines with new media art.

Great results can be achieved in many ways. Mixing, merging and combining techniques and genres generate almost unlimited possibilities and opens up new perspectives. His works combine Exploiting the different new media possibilities that lie such as videos, in each genre and sounds, computer technique is how I program, software work with all my projects. In APIDAE, and interactive I recovered data from installation. a destroyed and disrupted mp4 file of Currently he is a graduate student in a bumblebee that I Graduate School of observed last summer. I wanted to New Media Art at contribute in drawing National Taiwan attention to the fact University of Arts. that bumblebees are dying.

Lee Clift Lives and works in Sao Paulo, Brazil Performance, Installation

Anna Parisi Lives and works in Los Angeles, CA, USA Mixed media, Video, Installation

Christian Bøen Lives and works in Bergen, Norway Mixed media, Installation

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Special thanks to: Charlotte Seegers, Martin Gantman, Krzysztof Kaczmar, Tracey Snelling, Nicolas Vionnet, Genevieve Favre Petroff, Christopher Marsh, Adam Popli, Marilyn Wylder, Marya Vyrra, Gemma Pepper, Maria Osuna, Hannah Hiaseen and Scarlett Bowman, Yelena York Tonoyan, Edgar Askelovic, Kelsey Sheaffer and Robert Gschwantner.

On the cover a work by Jeff Scofield


Jeff Scofield Scofield Jeff Scofield is an American artist who studied at the Ateliers des Beaux Arts de la Ville de Paris after earning his Master of Architecture degree at Columbia University in New York. He migrated to Dubai 10 years ago, and is now a Director at the Dubai International Art Centre. Working at large and small scales, Jeff uses found materials to create original abstract paintings and installations in a minimalist style. His artwork evokes the complexities and contradictions of modern life through the expression of sustainable themes. Jeff’s artwork has been exhibited in various art galleries, public institutions and hotels in New York, Paris, Rome and Dubai. His artwork has won numerous awards, and is frequently selected for juried exhibitions. His art can be found in private collections in the USA, Canada, France, the UK, Hong Kong, Australia and the UAE. Jeff Scofield

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An interview with An interview by Dario Rutigliano, curator and Melissa C. Hilborn, curator arthabens@mail.com

Jeff Scofield's works stress the way in which perception depends on cultural perspectives and shows that the process of making art dramatically increases the ability to access our intelligence, accomplishing the difficult task of triggering the most limbic perceptual parameters of the viewers in order to walk them to a liminal area in which personal associations give life to a unique and harmonious unity. His kinetic works convey beauty and at the same time speak to us of sustainability, communication and probe the notion of identity in the unstable contemporary age: we are very pleased to introduce our readers to Scofield's multifaceted artistic production. Hello Jeff and welcome to ART Habens. To start this interview, I would pose you a couple of introductory questions about your background. You have a solid formal training and after having earned a Master of Architecture degree from the prestigious Columbia University, you moved to France, where you nurtured your education at the Ateliers des Beaux Arts de la Ville de Paris. How have these experiences influenced the way you conceive and produce your works? In particular, how does your cultural substratum as an architect inform the way you relate yourself to art making nowadays?

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texture and light. Repetition of these elements is essential to my artistic expression, in order to impress an emotional mood within the room. These architectonic aspects are only the starting points for my artwork, however, which is really a visual research about space, light, gesture, and movement. This goes way beyond what we were taught in art school, and stems from direct observation of the world around me. My art installations strive to evoke the complexities and contradictions of modern life through the exploration of

Many thanks to ART Habens for featuring my artwork in your publication. I am focused on creating large scale art installations which fill the wall or the entire room. The emphasis is on the use of natural materials to bring out their intrinsic characteristics in terms of color,

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sustainable themes. Your approach is marked out with a captivating multidisciplinary feature, that provides your works of dynamic life and autonomous aesthetics. We would suggest our readers to visit http://jeffscofield.net in order to get a wider idea of your multifaceted artistic production. While superimposing concepts and techniques and crossing the borders of different artistic fields, have you ever happened to realize that a symbiosis between different viewpoints is the only way to achieve some results, to express the ideas you investigate about?

My art installations are a blend of sculpture, fiber art, video, sound and other media. My specialty is kinetic artwork, that is, art installations that move. I try to reach the viewers emotions through all of the senses. My artistic practice is an ongoing search for universal truths as expressed through ordinary materials presented in extraordinary ways. The artwork is an abstract expression of human feelings and emotions. Each art installation sets up a symbiotic relationship with the viewer, as if they were both living entities, in order to elicit personal reactions. Joy, wonder, melancholy, frustration, desire; emotions such as these are what I strive to touch in the viewer. We would start to focus on your artistic production beginning from Conversations, an interesting project featured in the introductory pages of this article. When we first happened to admire this kinetic artwork we tried to relate all the visual information and its geometric symbolism to a single meaning, filling the gaps and searching

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for a sign that could unveil an order in the idea of regeneration that pervades your work. But we soon realized that we had to fit into its visual unity, forgetting our need for a univocal understanding of its symbolic content: in your work, rather than a conceptual interiority, we can recognize the desire for enabling us to establish direct relationships. Would you say that it's more of an intuitive or rather a systematic process?

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experience is an absolutely indespensable part of a creative process. Do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience?

In pursuing my exploration of sustainable themes, the use of abstract forms allows me to express universal notions about modern life. There is an important temporal element in the expression of life cycles, which evokes past, present and future. But more than this, my visual research aims to push the boundaries of emotional expression beyond received social perceptions and into the realm of unconventional art forms. My artwork tries to create new associations with the use of natural materials, which viewers can relate to based on universal or shared personal experiences.

“Conversations” is an exploration of natural materials, cotton ropes and paper, combined with daylight, motion and sound. The upcycled pages from paperback books evoke the complexity of human thoughts and words, which are passed along from generation to generation. “Conversations” exists in the borders between stories, whispers and secrets. The concept is intuitive; it is the result of careful research using various different materials to achieve an emotional effect. The process of creating the artwork is systematic, however, involving a great deal of repetition in order to achieve the large scale, which is integral to the success of this piece.

Another interesting work of yours that has particularly impacted on us is entitled Cascade: what most impressed us about it is the way it evokes the joy of life and creates a point of convergence between references to reality and a particular kind of oneiric dimension, that establishes an unexpected equilibrium between the apparently opposite concepts of random rhythm and contemplation. We daresay that the ālea pervading this piece could be considered as an inscrutable but at the same time harmonious music that moves both the satin ribbons and the viewer's perception. Did you conceive it in an instinctive way or did you rather structure your process in order to reach such balance?

Your work accomplishes the recurrent but difficult task of instilling a consciousness about sustainability: in this direction, the chance of taking a participatory line with the viewers both on an emotional aspect as well as on an intellectual one is a crucial point of your Art. While referring to an easily usable set of symbols as starting points, you seem to remove the historic gaze from the reality you refer to, offering to the viewers the chance to perceive in a more absolute form, in order to address us not only on a more contingent view but especially to invite us to rethink about our future. So I would take this occasion to ask you if in your opinion personal

“Cascade” is a sustainable artwork whose subtle motions celebrate life unfolding gently in an unhurried way. The recycled satin ribbons dance

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together in a rhythmic exploration of light, color and motion. This installation grew from a smaller experiment in the corner of the room involving light and shadows cast onto the wall. It gravitated to the center of the room as the focus shifted to emphasize movement. Such is the visual reseach process, that one must remain open minded and instinctive in order to develop original concepts. The execution was quite structured, on the other hand, following a careful color gradation from light to dark on the grid layout. The result is a complimentary blend of geometric forms and organic movement. This artwork contains both structure and freedom, and thereby attains a certain richness.

sexual topics, and whose work exerts a spectacular impact. My artwork is more assimilated with sustainable themes, such as that of Tony Feher and Hassan Sharif, who work on a more subtle level. I try to push their use of natural and found materials one step further, by using them to explore aesthetic issues of light, space and motion. “City by the Sea” opens up a whole realm of sustainable issues through the use of recycled glass jars containing seashells collected on Dubai Open Beach. It is intended as a reminder to protect the ecosystems in and around our cities, in order to maintain the wonderful biodiversity for future generations to enjoy. This political “message” is reinforced by the poetic presentation of pure materials creating light and shadow in a harmonious composition. As an artist emerginjg in the public realm, I find that a subtle impact carries the force of truth.

The work of artists can help to develop a cultural democracy that prizes equality and brings a deep respect for human rights to every aspect of civil society: in the insightful exploration of the co-existence between the city and the sea that you carried in the interesting City By The Sea, you have investigated the notion of identity of a place that affects the unstable contemporary sensibility: many artists from the contemporary scene, such as Judy Chicago or more recently Jennifer Linton, use to include sociopolitical criticism in their works. It is not unusual that an artist, rather than urging the viewer to take a personal position on a subject, tries to convey his personal take about the major issues that affect contemporary age. Do you consider that your works are political in this way or do you seek to maintain a neutral approach? And in particular, what could be in your opinion the role that an artist could play in the contemporary society?

Artists are always interested in probing to see what is beneath the surface: as you have remarked once, Sun Showers celebrates the wonder of natural events. We can recognize that it also offers an opportunity to rethink the creative potential of aleatory -or better, chaoticprocesses such as€meteorological phenomena in the extraction of meaning. While walking our readers through the genesis of this work, would you like to shed a light about the role of randomness and chance in your approach in general? In particular, do you think that chance could play a creative role?

“Sun Showers” is a kinetic art installation of glass prisms hung in front of a wall; they twirl in the ambient air currents, casting highlights and color spectra that twinkle and dance around the room. The

You have cited two artists who are very politically oriented, particularly regarding

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delicate movements are as restful as they are mesmerizing. This artwork was conceived as a celebration of sunlight and wind. It is based on a meticulously crafted structure that generates repetitive vagaries of chance movements. The resulting drama of light and motion that plays out endlessly within the room is a subtle expression of natural cycles. The delicate randomness creates a sense of joy and wonder.

ephemeral and transitory, with events, which are tangible and real. Our life experiences help to define our hopes, desires and expectations. This is part of the cycle of life, and if we stop dreaming, we cease to exist. The artwork is also about the beauty that quantity and repetition can produce. We think it's important to mention that you currently hold the position of Director at the Dubai International Art Centre: first, we would take this occasion to ask you what are -if any- the most remarkable differences that you have found between the Dubai scene and the Western one. Moreover, we would like to ask how does teaching inform the way you nowadays relate yourself to art making: have you ever happened to draw inspiration from the idea of your students?

Like Jean Tinguely's generative works, Tapestry of Dreams offers a multilayered experience that highlights the elusive but ubiquitous connection between conscious and subconscious levels: providing the viewers of such an Ariadne's thread that connects the oniric dimension to perceptual reality, this stimulating piece shows an effective combination between experience and imagination. German sculptor and photographer Thomas Demand once stated that: "nowadays art can no longer rely much on symbolic strategies and has to probe psychological narrative elements within the medium instead". What is your opinion about this? And in particular, what is the role of memory in your process?

Dubai and the Middle East have only recently begun to develop their own cultural identity, separate from the Western one. At the same time Dubai is very open to the rest of the world, creating an international mix in the art scene. Working at the Dubai International Art Centre provides me with intriguing back-and-forth exchanges with the members, who come from different cultures all around the world. Collaboration is an important aspect of my artistic practise, and I work regularly with a handful of art instructors, exploring sustainable themes each in our own way.

You cite two artists who produce provocative sculpture and installation art. I strive more to express subtle emotions rather than human consciousness. My artistic research is akin to Mona Hatoum in terms of evoking emotional responses through scale and materials, and to Eva Hesse in terms of sheer repetition. “Tapestry of Dreams� addresses the boundaries between our dreams, memories and imagination. It contrasts notions of dreams, which are

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Over these years your works have been internationally exhibited in several occasions: your practice is intrinsically connected to the chance of creating an area of intellectual interplay with the

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viewers, that are urged to evolve from the condition of a merely passive audience. So before leaving this conversation I would like to pose a question about the nature of the relationship of your art with your audience. Do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decision-making process, in terms of what type of language is used in a particular context?

My artwork seeks to establish an emotional interplay with the viewer. I try to reach the audience through the use of universal themes, including the repetition of natural materials, the play of sunlight and shadows, the effects of wind, and the gestures of subtle movements. These simple elements are intended to speak to the viewer on a primordial level in order to elicit basic emotional responses, such as joy, melancholy, or desire. The audience is then free to interpret as they wish, each according to his own personal experience. So my artwork’s language is universal, not particular, and I rely on the viewers shared perceptions to appreciate my art installations, independent of any specific cultural background. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Jeff. Finally, would you like to tell our readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving?

I find the process of emerging as a visual artist to be stimulating. I recently completed an Artist in Residence program at the Abu Dhabi Art Hub, and am searching for similar opportunities to create art. In particular I’d like to find a sponsor who can help finance my large scale installations. My future projects

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include exhibitions at the Sikka Art Fair,

and to reach a wide audience, as I see my practice evolving towards interactive and public art in the future.

which is part of Art Dubai, as well as at the World Art Dubai Fair. It is important to me to emerge in the broad public domain,

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Nour Refaat Refaat A multidisciplinary artist who's core work focuses primarily on the physicality of the human body, as well as the internal and external effects it has on the human psyche and technical work. Involving a previous theatre background, I am highly intrigued by the methods of Meyerhold's biomechanics, where instead of invoking empathy from the audience by searching for an internal emotional struggle, Meyerhold believed that through physicality and bodily mechanical movements that the actor would easily portray an emotion consistently and just as good as the off handed Stanislavsky method. Through forms of different biomechanical techniques, I explore the level of authenticity through these movements, as well as comparing and contrasting human movements to machine (mechanical) movements, investigating the difference between human and machine. I would like to divulge myself further into the arts and health sector and explore the effects of these movements artistically while working with children with disabilities, and see if these technical movements would help improve their conditions. Special Issue

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An interview with An interview by Barbara Scott, curator and Melissa C. Hilborn, curator arthabens@mail.com

Multidisciplinary artist Nour Refaat accomplishes the difficult and stimulating task of investigating about the differences and elusive connections between human and machine spheres. Centering her practice on the physicality of human body, she produces captivating works capable of creating deep emotional struggle in the viewers, who are urged to walk into the liminal area to challenge the notion of perception. One of the most convincing aspect of Refaat's approach is the way she questions the concepts of authenticity, consciousness in relation with human experience: we are really pleased to introduce our readers to her stimulating artistic production. Hello Nour and welcome to ART Habens: to start this interview, we would like to pose you a question about your background. You have a solid formal training and you hold a MA of Fine Art, that you recently received from the Arts University Bournemouth: moreover, over these years you gained a wide experience as decorative painter, working for an international architecture company. How does these experiences, along with your background in Theatre, impact on the way you currently conceive and produce your works? In particular, how does your cultural substratum due to your Egyptian roots inform the way you relate yourself to art making?

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baffle me and exhaust me at the same time. It was so technical and accurate, especially when it came to social or educational settings, you had to behave and present yourself in a certain way that would deem acceptable to those around you, and I’m not referring to extreme, metamorphic changes to your physical posture or behaviour, but the regular, everyday occurrence that happens all over the world; being taught how to act in public to lessen the anxiety of those around you, instead of just allowing yourself

I never really thought about the main reason behind my work since a couple of years ago. Rather, I always assumed it would just stem out of boredom rather than an inherent aspect, then again, I was a teenager that didn't particularly care about what my work was about, as long as it was visually stimulating. Part of the reason I conduct my work in a certain manner is related to how I was raised in Cairo, Egypt. You grow up having people tell you what to do, how to sit, stand, walk, talk, look, react‌it all seemed to

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to be yourself, your own personal and characteristic authenticity. “Straighten your back…Don’t say this…Remember where you come from….It’s not appropriate….You’re a girl, you can’t do that…”, a few of the things I would hear over the years. One of the main reasons that got me thinking about the way people conducts themselves publicly- and so easily, without even thinking about how their physicality changes- is observing the way women used to walk in the streets of Cairo, compared to how they walk in an institution or workplace. As soon as a woman would leave what she considers her ‘comfort zone’, the changes she makes to her body are quite fascinating; head bowed down, back straight, fast paced, muscles tensed, hands clasped to either keys or a bag, and I’m only referring to a short distance like walking from the entrance of your building to the car you parked about 20 metres away. Due to the increased sexual harassment epidemic that has risen over the last few decades, and the verbal and physical ‘attention’ that women get back home has made them think that THEY are the ones that have to behave in a certain manner to avert the attention away from them. Frankly, it doesn't work most of the time, but overtime I would observe these women, and experience the same moments that they do while walking through the streets, realising and NOT realising how much my physical posture, presentation, decorum, whatever you’d like to call it, changes almost immediately, without even having thinking about, its a natural instinct and reaction now. That is how I first started looking at my abstract artwork when I started working with the architecture company, the influence of my theatre background had not yet come to light, and the only driven motivation for those pieces of work was the difference between human and machine, how I would observe my physical being in a mechanical rather than emotional manner, re creating those physical changes I felt through an act and not an emotion, and how

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authentic the work would be considered if it is to near perfection. I would focus on all the different mechanical aspects of my hand while it moved, from elbow to wrist, wrist to thumb and fingers, and all the ligaments inbetween, shutting off my train of thought and consciousness in the process to only focus on the physical structure of my body and the movements I was creating. You are a versatile artist and we have particularly appreciated the uniqueness of your exploration of the theme of physicality of human body, that marks out your multifaceted production. While superimposing techniques and concepts from different spheres and consequently crossing the borders of different artistic fields, have you ever happened to realize that a symbiosis between different viewpoints is the only way to convey the ideas you explore and especially to investigate about the difference between human and machine?

Well, I never realized it in the first place, especially when it came to different view points. One of the things I love most about my work and art in general is that it allows and ambiguous and open nature for the viewers to explore what they see through my work. I only ever realised the different viewpoints until I HEARD the different viewpoints. Some were scientific, some were philosophical, some were spiritual, yet, somehow all related to the same question that everyone asked me; do you think there is a main difference between human and machine? How mechanical can you get a human to be? How human can you get a machine to be? These were all very loaded questions with a very fine line to cross around most people, that had me go back to the drawing board at the time and rethink the original purpose rather than the added experiences that effects my work and methodology. It was then that I started reading up on Meyerhold’s biomechanics again and comparing it to other theatre

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acting techniques that spoke of authenticity and execution. It made me wonder, if a human could resort to a machine-like way of thinking, could they possibly conduct work that is as accurate enough as a photograph, or something similar to the naked eye and all it can experience that sometimes, a lens might be able to capture? And if so, can the human manifest into this‌instrument and use certain parts of that itself to produce intricately and delicately thought out drawings that seem to come up and produce visually stimulating pieces of work? And wring in something from deep within that we have very little understanding of and is unique to each and every individual on this planet? Your own human consciousness? It fascinated and excited me so much that all I could do for the next few weeks/months after making this realisation is paint and draw however much my body could handle, and that through physicality , I wanted to proveas mentioned before- authentic emotion. We would like to focus on your artistic production beginning from One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest: an extremely interesting project that our readers have already started to admire in the introductory pages of this article: when walking our readers through the genesis of this project, would you like to shed a light on the methods of Meyerhold's biomechanics? In particular, whatlead you to center your practice around it?

Ah, well, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest was a personal favourite project of mine during my BA years. I am a huge fan of the film with Jack Nicholson as McMurphy and Louise Fletcher as Nurse Ratched, we covered the novel/play written by Ken Kessey at the time; such an enthralling story and look at the human psyche, as well as the political and social conduct of the mental asylum that was so relatable at the time to the Egyptian revolution, where you had this one dictator that spoke soft words, knowing

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what’s best, yet ruled with an iron fist, and that their word goes, anyone that stands to oppose them eventually gets lobotomised (as is McMurphy’s fate). I had been assigned two roles for the production. The first was assistant Set Designer, which was great because it allowed me to understand how to give life and soul to a set, the characters it was going to represent and the story is was going to aid the actors in telling it. In the end, the result was this beautiful, haunting and skeletal looking set that seemed to have a life of its own when the light designs were included, added to the mechanical aspect of the set, that the inside of the mental institution was just as hollow as how the patients residing there felt. The second duty was playing Nurse Ratched. You wouldn’t believe how ecstatic I was to get the part, because it was her character that had fascinated me the most. Her back story was that she was a trained army nurse and when she retired, resided to run a mental institution to keep everything orderly and everyone in line. With her supposed good intentions came this cold and calculated physicality. The plastered smile on her face that the others assumed to be warm, was just a matter of reassurance. There was something so mechanical about her character, the physical nature of the way she moved, even as I was training with our director, Coach Mark Minaret, who is probably one of the best people I have ever worked with, focused solely on the way Nurse Ratched moved and the mannerism in the way she spoke, we didn't speak of emotion or anything related to that it was mostly physical and vocal, and through that training, we brought a well rounded character to life. I remember having leg cramps for about a month through rehearsals because I had to contract my calf and thigh muscles when I would walk onto stage as the tyrant nurse, back straight, arms to the side. Even the way I spoke, I had to articulate every single letter I was pronouncing, clearly, efficiently and

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sense representative of the relationship between perception and memory. What is the role of memory in your process? And in particular, do you try to achieve a faithful visual translation of your feelings?

robotically. To prevent emotion and thought from involving itself into the development of the character was very difficult, as my train of thought would eventually get the better of me and in the end, I would manifest this…echo of the character I was supposed to be portraying. That’s when I started reading about Meyerhold, I was conducting a paper on his biomechanics at the time through a Dramatic Theory and Criticism class I was enrolled in. Meyerhold’s main theory goes against what Stanislavsky would say that basically a performer can never get a consistently good enough or authentic enough performance if they kept resorting to method acting and emotional recollection only. It is too psychologically draining and at most, you’ll get one good night throughout the week rather than a recipe of movements and physical conductions that will aid you in making the performance not only relatable, but believable at the same time. That through memory of that emotion, instead of replaying the exact moment, focus solely on the details of your physicality rather than just relying on the memory. That’s the whole point of theatre, you want to make the audience believe you when you’re on that stage, that that story is real, those characters exist, that they will get you thinking about it long after you’ve seen it. And that’s how it helped me not only through out the play, but throughout my artwork later on in the years. How I would use Meyerhold’s biomechanical methods and practice to conduct my own research on what is considered emotionally authentic work produced through physical means.

Resolution Mechanics was… a bit of an experiment. I wanted to explore what would happen if I had stopped the Meyerholdian biomechanical movements halfway throughout the process and get back to an emotional recollection. At the time I was painting from a memory of a personal settlement I had made with society, that because of the country I come from, and the culture I had surrounded myself with, I would always be treated in certain manner, and I accepted that notion, but felt defeated accepting that just because of these certain aspects, people thought it wasn’t appropriate or traditional of me to do certain things in life. And it struck a pretty hard chord emotionally, that I felt I had to contain my thoughts and opinions because people around me, even some I’ve known my entire life, would not accept it. I chose black ink because its purpose was to be free-er than most other mediums and at the moment, that idea appealed to me greatly. I wanted free reign on what I was creating, without anyone telling me what to do or where to put it and how to go about it. I was in my bubble, where no one could bother me, my opinions and thoughts were my own. I started this piece with the biomechanics and then moved on to an emotional representation, where I forgot the physicality of my movements and focused on the thoughts surfacing from that memory instead. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve looked upon this abstract piece and seen something different each time. The downtrodden face of a struggling man who is on the verge of defeat, a nuclear explosion, the gates of hell opening and releasing all the tortured souls, creatures of the darkest imaginations and strangely..mickey mouse in some of the deeper black blotches. In turn, every person who has come across this

While exhibiting a captivating vibrancy, your pieces sometimes seem to reject an explicit explanatory strategy: you seem to offer to the viewer a key to find personal interpretations to the feelings that you convey into your works... this quality marks out a considerable part of your production, and we can recognize it especially in Resolution Mechanics that are in a certain

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painting has experienced a different memory. That’s what the work is all about, the obscurity of something that originated with a key purpose, yet it seems to have provided a different outlook to everyone who sees it, as well as others. it has to do with the physicality of my movement when it comes

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to producing the work, my physical movements strikes up the emotion of the viewer, and just like theatre, connects with them on a personal level. Its a personal performance that I conduct and leave it to the viewer to make what they see of it. That’s as honest as I can get about the how I

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represent my work, there is not intricacy to it, rather a…compromised and technical simplicity.

anymore? Is there a set of rules that you have to follow to be considered ‘good’ and ‘authentic’?

The process of making art has dramatically increases the ability to access our intelligence in a more flexible and especially functional way: in particular, the methods of Meyerhold's biomechanics forces both the artists to an incessant process of rethinking and the viewers to analyze an unexpectedly wide variety of complexity, in which contradictory perspectives aim to an harmonic integration: how do you develope your style? And in particular how important is for you the aesthetic problem?

Another interesting couple of pieces of yours that has particularly impressed us and on which we would like to spend some words are entitled Controlled Catharsis Mechanics and Boxed Resin Mechanics. The dialogue established by colors and the refined texture you created is a crucial part of your style: in particular, the effective combination between intense nuances of tones sums up the mixture of thoughts and emotions. How much does your own psychological make-up determine the nuances of tones you decide to use in a piece and in particular, how do you develop a painting’s texture? Moreover, any comments on your choice of "palette" and how it has changed over time?

I hate that word, style. *laughs* Its so set, so formed and has to adhere to a certain structure, even if the particular style is free ranged and unorthodox, it still has to remain within the boundaries of that style. I like to think of the way I work as flexible, I go from abstract, to geometric, to psychedelic, and to mechanical, yet I don’t have a particular name or identity to my style, its too fluid and inconsistent when it comes to style that I don’t really see it citing the bill of having a stylised name to go with it. If I had to say how my practice develops and changes, then that would make more sense to me. Because if I focused on the style then I would be limiting myself to possible experimentation devices when it came to exploring the type of work that I do. I feel that my technical artistic skills have definitely changed over the last decade at least, as my comprehension of different art forms developed and grew, my perception of the world and my time spent observing the people around me and the places I was in affected what I wanted to see come to life through the mediums I was using. The only aesthetic problem I seem to come across is that I feel that my technical methods seem a little on the far fetched side and might not be considered as ‘authentic’ enough in the art world, which is a shame because who’s to say what is considered as art these days

Psychological make up is a very interesting way of giving a different name to mood. I like that. I think of make up as actual physical make up, that people use to enhance or cover up their features, so i suppose its applicable to mood. In terms of Controlled Catharsis Mechanics, it was a piece I had started when I first moved to the United Kingdom. I’d acquired my visa and had to move to another country about three days later, already about a month late into the Masters Course and feeling a little out of place, so I rested on starting a piece of work that I was familiar with. When I tend to feel anxious or nervous, the best thing for me to draw/paint are usually the black and white geometric/psychedelic pieces. I chose black and white in terms of this ‘style’ because I always thought that black and white were opposites, and in some form of my interpretation, created a sense of harmony; when you combine black and white together, it creates grey, which is how I see life and the world, not in a dark manner, but in terms of what is right and wrong, I just feel that black and white are very independent of each other, but work well together if that makes

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sense. I find a certain therapeutic comfort in the obsessive-compulsive nature of these pieces when it comes to the patterns and the design. I usually don’t have a starting point with these pieces, its more of an excited chance to fill up the canvas with as much detail as I possible could. My starting point was the bottom right corner and as you can see, the patterns, shapes and lines are much more tightly bound than the fluid movement of the rest the piece, and yes, I can honestly say that is a reflection of my mood at the time, where I was in an unfamiliar place surrounded by new people, and as excited I was to be there for an amazing opportunity, its obvious through thatt starting point that I was seeking a sense of organised chaos that I was so familiar with back in Cairo. As I began to adapt to my surroundings, then my manner in drawing and painting also relaxed, resulting in the smoother and well rounded patterns and lines in the rest of the drawing, still intricate because I do have a fascination with an intense amount of detail. I only realised later on in the Masters course how my physicality and psychological make up were related. But instead of feeling anxious and having a breakdown of some sort, I expressed it physically through my work, I just wasn't aware of it at the time. In terms of the Boxed Resin mechanics, I was experimenting with the consistency and the manipulation of paint and its movements. I had a slight interest in chemistry, and the chemical compositions of materials, bonds and such, and how separate elements combined with each other to form compounds, all very basic. With this piece, I had found a discarded drawer and felt like‌filling it up. I wanted to see swirls of colour and body of some sort, without it being textured or too 2-Dimensional, and then started to wonder about how I could possibly manipulate a thick texture of poured or splayed out paint to give it more body, rather than painted on with a brush to make it seem flat. So, I decided to see what would

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happen if I poured paint onto a thick layer of resin, and swirl the colours with a thin wooden stick. In terms of the palette, I tend to have a rule that if I’m working with colour, I should only stick to the 3 main primary colours of red, blue and yellow. any other colour I wanted should be mixed from the original primaries. When I was younger, I

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relate themselves to the ideas you explore in an absolute way: the combination between the abstract feeling you convey in your works and the elusive but effective symbolism dued to references to geometric patterns reminds us of the idea behind Thomas Demand's works, when he states that "nowadays art can no longer rely so

tended to combine most colours, primary, secondary, tertiary‌as I grew up I felt I needed to make a few choices instead, limit my options to see how many solutions I could come up with from my own limitations. Your pieces are characterized with universal quality that allows the viewers to

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much on symbolic strategies and has to probe psychological, narrative elements within the medium instead". While the conception of Art could be considered an abstract activity, there is always a way of giving it a sense of permanence, going beyond the intrinsic ephemeral nature of those concepts you explore. So I would take this occasion to ask you if in your opinion, personal experience is absolutely indispensable as part of the creative process? Do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience?

It is definitely not an easy process to bring about personal experiences when it comes to work, especially when some personal experiences can be quite painful to the artist, but if the artist wants to express these personal experiences with the amount of authenticity when it comes to the story telling, then I say yes, it is absolutely indispensable to the creative process. Personal experience doesn't necessarily have to be an event. It can range from memories, sayings, moments, music, theatre, talks, movies, it just depends how that person interprets said experiences and what the result of that outcome. There have been times where my creative process stemmed from nothing, or at least, I thought it stemmed from nothing at the time, and the result was just because I was bored and had nothing better to do. Although, that being said, boredom in itself can be considered an experience, if we want to get philosophical about it, an experience of absolute nothingness or indifference. The expression and process of art is also just another form of storytelling, just as a photograph ‘speaks a thousand words’, a piece of artwork for me ‘holds at least a hundred narratives’ to the different viewers. As you have remarked once, you would like to divulge yourself further also into health sector, to explore the effects of human and mechanical movements while working with

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children with disabilities. Art therapy is today an ever growing force and an extremely stimulating experience: we are convinced that catering for an individuals creativity is the most effective way of progressing in Art. More and more artists from the contemporary scene, ranging from John Heartfield to Thomas Hirschhorn often use art as a powerful tool to express their personal takes about the major issues that affect contemporary age: Art has a therapeutical effect on society and it should become the vehicle for change: while setting free Art's communicative potential, do you

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consider that your works are political in this way or do you seek to maintain a neutral approach? By the way, what should be in your opinion the role of an artist in our societies?

Creativity is a vital aspect for every human, especially the arts. People seem to deem creativity these days as a flippant matter and not taken seriously. You have some places that are willing to cut funding for the arts and such in order to ‘re-vitalise’ the sciences, mathematics, among other subjects, which is

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all well and good, but I doubt that the original fields of these subjects promote much on the creative or imaginative side. Einstein himself said ‘Imagination is more important than knowledge itself’. Through extensive research, it has been found that Art not only improves the psychological well being of a child/adult, but also promotes them to evidently approach a non artistic problem through different approaches rather than a set of rules or formulas, providing several options to problem solve through the thinking process. Its communication mechanisms in terms of expressing a thought, feeling or opinion are so

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powerful,its surreal, the emotive learning that comes from it not only benefits the person creating the artwork, but also the person observing it, as they get some sense of the said creator’s psychological state, it generally helps students ranging from kids to undergraduates in relieving stress, helps form self identity and social structures. Most importantly, art therapy has been used for a number of diseases that ease the stress associated with the occasionally harsh treatment that comes along with it. I had been reading about autism, for example, and realised that there is a certain way of thinking that most autistic people have that

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is quite systematic and formulated to logic rather than empathy,and I thought that maybe my type of art form when it comes to Meyerhold’s biomechanics might somehow help out with how autistic children relate to their own physicality in relation to their emotions, and most autistic people tend to have a difficult time in expressing certain thoughts, and it has been proven, through art therapy, that it has aided people with disabilities as a valid form of expression, maybe not a full form, but it certainly opens the door into a willing dialogue rather than the entire dialogue. That’s the path I’d like to get into in the future, partly one of the main reasons I’d like to become a teacher as well, I just find that the arts just help in every way possible. In terms of my own personal work, I’ve yet to produce work that stand on a political ground when it comes to such a massive social issue that deals with mental health, but I might well be on my way in the future to do something drastic about that. The role of an artist in society should vary from teacher, student, mentor, story teller, activist, provider, harmoniser, a memory, and most importantly, luminary. That’s what the role of an artist should be, all those combined to form a luminary, in order to create more luminaries. That’s why I was devastated to hear about the closing of Kids Co., not only did it provide a freelance artistic and learning field for children, but it also set itself up to provide a distraction from what the atrocities of the street life could do to a young person these days; essentially, it was getting children off the streets and into a place that would stimulate their imaginations in a safe setting rather than a dangerous one, and in the end, they would learn a set of skills that might benefit them in the future, whether it be practical or theoretical. It would be a dream of mine to provide something like Kids Co. back in Cairo, and get the children off the streets to do something productive with their lives instead of wasting it away doing something illegal or dangerous even.

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One of the hallmarks of your approach is the capability to establish direct relations with the spectatorship, deleting any conventional barrier between the ideas you communicate and who receipt and consequently elaborate them. So before taking leave from this interesting conversation we would like to pose a question about the nature of the relation with your audience: in particular, do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your

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decision-making process in terms of what type of language for a particular context?

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they don’t relate to my own views, when it comes to the arts, its exactly like cuisine; everyone has different taste, and you can’t force the audience to like the work that you are doing because of the way they think and how they see or ‘taste’ your work. The only time I do consider the audience’s reception is when a piece of work is completed and when the opinions come out, I start formulating a different approach for the next piece of work/project.

Ah, well, when I first started out in the Theatre department, I used to think about audience reception all the time, due to critiques and reviews. As you progress in the theatre though, you tend to realise that there are too many critics out there, and that the only critic in your life should be yourself. The arts are an ambiguous field when it comes to interpretation; everyone is going to have a different opinion. We’re just here to tell the story and the audience/viewers can make what they want of it in my opinion, I’ve just learned not to take opinions too seriously if

Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Nour. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your

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future projects? How do you see your work evolving?

Its been great! I would love to be able to work with SEN children in an educational setting to start off with, maybe even approach some art therapists or organisations related to art therapy to start coming up with a project that will target the issues of the arts in relation to the well being of a person. Maybe even contact artists of different disciplines to collaborate over a social event that would gather enough recognition for funding of future projects or funding that would go towards charities for people with disabilities. As mentioned above, my dream would be to open something similar to Kids Co back in Cairo so that I could provide my skills and talents to take the kids off the streets, as well as providing an opportunity for other artists in Cairo to provide their own skills through workshops and seminars and such. That is a very difficult question to answer. I’m not entirely sure how my work would change, in terms of evolving, I see myself gaining a bit more patience when it comes to my work process, I tend to get very rushed when working on an art piece. I can see myself starting a project and not finishing it until 20-30 years later, maybe not even until a little bit before my death. But who can tell? Depending on the experiences I have in life, I’m not entirely sure how my work would specifically change in terms of ‘style’ and context, I guess I’ll just have to keep sending you pictures of my updated work. The only thing I see changing is probably the methodology of my work, as I grow as a person so will my creative process and work methodology.

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Alexandra Kononova I consider myself to be a pretty much self-taught artist. Though it might be correct only to a certain extent. I was born in a small Russian province, known as Vyatka (Kirov). My parents remember me as a 3-year-old girl who could sit tacitly for hours surrounded by her pencils and paints and absorbed with the process of creating bright scribbles. Thanks to my mother, my ‘artistic life’ started in the early childhood, when, at the age of 5, I was brought to the drawing studio for youngsters at the local museum. There I’ve developed my drawing and painting skills and learned the basics of the art history. I’ve spent 4 amazing years with a very intuitive and passionate teacher who appreciated child’s own vision and encouraged work in different techniques. I consider this early period to be fundamental for my artistic growth and development. After that I have passed exams to the state drawing school which implied 6-year course of classical drawing, painting and composition. Looking back at these years, I must confess that, on the one hand, the classical school is a cornerstone upon which my current works are built. There I have found my feet in drawing and painting; I understood the interaction between shapes and light in space through sculpture lessons; I learned the principles of composition and developed an intuition in colors. On the other hand, throughout that 6-year-term, being a teenager, I could not get rid of the feeling of being controlled and dominated in my art. I had no choice in sets of objects for still lives or topics for compositions’ imaginative plots; I could not choose independently materials and techniques for my works. I always had everything arranged. Very little space was left for self-expression. The atmosphere was a little bit stifling and I did not create in a true sense but I rather used to fulfill learning tasks and replicate. To be honest, I was not even very successful when graduating from the drawing school. I have finished it as an average student (starting, though, with excellence, especially in painting) and little prospects to go further in my artistic career. It was a very critical period in my life. It was time to decide with my career path and I had no desire to be ‘taught’ to be an artist anymore. That was why I gave up the idea of going in for academic art and concentrated on history and languages instead. But what was really important, was that I did not give up drawing. I never did it in my life. In my higher school I started to “wage my own war” against ordinariness and academicism in art. As long as the teachers have always claimed graphics to be my weakest side I invested enormous time and passion into it. Each picture I drew at home, during the lessons at school or at university lectures was my personal protest against the rigidity of images, duplication of patterns and predetermined visual solutions. I wanted to show that education is not the most important about the artist and everything he/she wants he/she can learn himself in the process of artistic research. I have never promoted my art as a commercial product intensively, though I receive some orders from time to time (posters, logos, T-shirts with my prints, etc.) All of them come from the word of mouth spread by my friends. I have never considered my art as a source of my living. On the contrary, it is much better for me when I can develop myself not being dependent on what I am doing in monetary terms. Enjoying this freedom allows me to avoid stamps and conformity with fashion and remain loyal to my own artistic vision. I cannot name a precise date when I discovered for myself that despite the master’s degree in political science and pretty good scientific career art is what I really want to do in my life. May be this persuasion came together with recognition – recent participation in my first exhibition. After that, I was hired as an Art teaching assistant at the International educational center in Moscow and this job has only enhanced my feeling of art being so indispensably related to my life. What I get from my current job is a never-ending stream of ideas and inspiration which are pure in nature and barely carry any imprint of existing artistic patterns. Together with children I learn how to preserve this cognitive purity and how to give old symbols and ordinary things a brand new visual interpretation. Speaking about my current state of art, I prefer to identify myself as an illustrator (though such label seems to be sometimes too limited to describe my artistic works). I have tried some digital art, but now I usually limit myself to retouching my works slightly in graphic editors. What I appreciate is working with ‘real’ materials – with something that you can touch, smell and feel the textures with your fingertips. I have worked with acryl, pastel and tempera and very often I have found that materials themselves propose ideas for an artist how on to solve this or that visual task. I also enjoy different techniques (I have created series of collages, monotypes and batik works). Still, my true passion remains to be graphics. For my graphical works I use mixed technique – liners, ink and watercolors. I can describe the whole style as a surrealistic one. “The devil is in the detail” they say and I pay a lot of attention to thorough elaboration of the tiniest details endowing them with special symbolic meanings. Captions Ornamentality and decoration stem from that, making my works more 'sur' rather than realistic. In certain works comics-like simplification also dominates the artistic manner. This allows keeping distance from imageries serving as a sort of a lens for the viewers.

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Alexandra Kononova

An interview with An interview by Josh Ryder, curator and Melissa C. Hilborn, curator arthabens@mail.com

Ranging from collages and monotypes to batik, Alexandra Kononova's work brings to a new level of significance the relationship between our perceptual categories and the reality we inhabit, to provide the viewers with a multilayered experience capable of walking the viewers into the liminal area in which subconscious level establishes a symbiosis between the conscious sphere. Drawing from universal imagery, Kononova incorporates both evokative elements andrigorous abstract patterns to trigger memory and imagination, to speak of emotions as well as to increase environmental awareness, creating a compelling narrative: we are very pleased to introduce our readers to her stimulating artistic production. Hello Alexandra and welcome to ART Habens: to start this interview would you tell us something about your background? In particular, as you have remarked once, your artistic life started in the early childhood, when you were brought to the drawing studio at the local museum: how did this experience influence your evolution as a basically selftaught artist? And in particular, how does your cultural substratum inform the way you relate yourself to art making and to the aesthetic problem in general?

Alexandra Kononova

Well, speaking about my artistic background I must say that I am a self-taught artist only to a certain extent: there have been two important and pretty much contradictory educational stages in my life. I would metaphorically call them ‘growing pro’ and ‘growing contra’.

been taught of using different materials and techniques as tools to express my imaginative world. I consider this early period of absolute creative freedom in self-expression to be a crucial fundament for my further artistic career.

First, you were absolutely right to mention the museum drawing studio: from the early childhood I was developing my understanding of the world through visiual images under the sensitive guidance of a very intuitive and passionate teacher. There I was encouraged and appreciated of my own childish vision and

And if the first stage of my development as an artist was a way of harmony with the surroundings than the second stage at the city drawing school was a way of developing in confrontation with environment. On the one hand,

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for compositions’ imaginative plots; I could not choose independently materials and techniques for my works. To put it in an nutshell, I always had everything arranged. Very little space was left for selfexpression. The atmosphere was a little bit stifling and I did not create in a true sense but I rather used to fulfill learning tasks and replicate. To be honest, I was not even very successful when graduating from the drawing school finishing it as an average student and little prospects to go further in my artistic career. It was a very critical period in my life. I had no desire to be ‘taught’ of being an artist anymore. That was why I entered university for a studying program not related to art. However, what was really important that I did not give up drawing. I never did it in my life. I preferred to strart my own ‘peaceful protest’ against academicism in art. As long as the teachers have always claimed graphics to be my weakest side I invested enormous time and passion into it. Each picture I drew at home, during the lessons at school or at university lectures was my personal protest against the rigidity of images, duplication of patterns and predetermined visual solutions. I wanted to show that education is not the most important about the artist and everything he/she wants he/she can learn himself in the process of his or her artistic research. That is why I consider myself merely a self taught artist. I have been learning on my own for a considerable period of time: indirectly from the art guru and idols and directly from my own experience and experiment. And though currently I am far from being a youthful maximalist rebel I used to be, I still see the role of my art in counterbalancing framing and pat-

at the drawing school I have found my feet in drawing and painting. On the other hand, throughout all my teen ages, I could not get rid of the feeling of being controlled and dominated in my art by the teachers: I had no choice in sets of objects for still lives or topics

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terns. My creative process is a never-ending story of search for unusual visual conceptions that would encourage my viewers to thinking.

something about your process and set up? In particular, have you ever happened to realize that such synergy of viewpoints is the only way to snatch the spirit of the ideas you explore?

You have defined yourself as a graphic: however, your approach condenses a variety of techniques, ranging from collages and monotypes to batik, that you combine together into a coherent balance: the results convey together a coherent sense of unity, that rejects any conventional classification. Would you like to tell to our readers

I firmly believe that it is not artistic means (both materials and techniques) that give a birth to ideas but, vice versa, it is ideas that dictate the choice of the visual solutions. However, materials themselves sometimes can give a clue to an artist on how to solve this or that

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main source of inspiration?

visual task. That is why I feel that it is extremely important to try various techniques and give a probe to something new: that keeps your creative thinking in a tonus.

The Painted Black series have started as something very personal and intimate but have finally turned into a central part of my portfolio. The series has been being created over a long period time from 2011 to 2015. Initially I didn’t think of them as a related set of works but accidentally they came together as if I have finished a puzzle.

I never try to limit myself with any frames: some ideas let to unwrap themselves through simplicity by usage of one artistic mean and limited color palette. Others, on the contrary, provoke very complex visual imagery that cannot be expressed by means of one single technique. And though the vast bulk of my works is graphical I usually combine ink or liners with watercolor or acryl. If this variety is not enough for due visual expression I go on with experiments: this was how I learned monotypes and batik.

Painted Black is a set of graphic illustrations (A3 - A6 format) made with ink and liners plus watercolor and acryl mainly in black-and-white color palette. The leitmotiv of the series is worries, fears and personal weaknesses brought up from childhood (imaginary ones or inspired by literature) as well as coming as a part of the modern social reality (for instance, the limitations imposed on art by money).

What I really enjoy is working with ‘real’ materials – with something that you can touch, smell and feel the textures with your fingertips. Digital art will never substitute this pleasure of real contact for me. I strongly believe that in the modern digitalizing world where one graphical editor is capable of transmitting thousands of textures with a couple of clicks it is crucial for conventional artists to be skilled in as many techniques as possible and to combine them creatively in their artworks. To keep my viewers captivated and to convey my message as clearly as possible I prefer synergy of means and materials.

Apparently, personal experience has served as the main source of inspiration for this set of works and for my artistic production in general. The main artistic postulate for me is that creating art is a very individualistic and intimate process. It is a very deep form of cognitive reflection and self-analysis. In my works I usually live through my fears, positive and negative emptions, personal dramas and ethical dilemmas - and Painted Blacks series is all about that inner struggles. While exhibiting a captivating vibrancy, your pieces often to reject an explicit explanatory strategy: rather, you seem to invite the viewer to find personal interpretations to the feelings that you convey into your artworks... this quality marks out a considerable part of your production, that are in a certain sense representative of the relationship between emotion and memory. What is the role of memory in your process? And in particular, do you try to achieve a faithful visual translation of your feelings?

We would start to focus on your artistic production beginning from the Painted Black series, a stimulating project that our readers have already started to admire in the introductory pages of this article. What has at once captured our attention of this body of works is the way the juxtaposition between intense tones provide the canvasses with a dynamic and autonomous aesthetic, to communicate an attempt to transform tension to harmony, and it's really captivating. While walking our readers through the genesis of this project, would you shed light to your

You are totally right: addressing memory is central mean of my aesthetic language. But,

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first and foremost, I make an attempt to address the memory of my viewers and give them an opportunity to provide their own interpretations to the ‘triggers’ – symbols which I depict and suppose to provoke multiple associations. What I really hope for is to find with my works a strong echo in the memories of the viewers.

my artistic production. No matter whether my works are accepted or rejected - the ritual of communication happens and this is the most valuable part of the creative process. And communication always implies personal interpretations and certain thinking effort: this is what I anticipate from my viewers.

The time gap between an inspirational feeling and my work production is usually very small (at least I try to captivate a momentum in sketch and realize the idea later).I do not always rely on memory because sometimes crucial details as well as liveliness and freshness of the images fades away when the time passes.

Actually, I completely agree with the thesis by Thomas Demand. He points out a very exciting and promising strategy for an artist to develop and conceptualize his/her art, that is going psychological and use narratives in order to convey the message to the viewer more efficiently. In terms of narratives comics that used to be underestimated as an ‘easy genre’ have an absolute advantage and I really appreciate them as an independent art form. However, polyptych or series are also convenient to exercise metaphorical storytelling which perhaps has no fable or plot but possesses certain dynamics and visual movement.

Here, the question of faithful visual transition is really relevant. The quicker is your artistic response to the event the more truthfulness and honesty you achieve (that is what I value sketching for). Being honest in your art is something absolutely critical for any artist. If you do not invest your personal feelings and experiences into artworks than it is impossible to create any good-quality piece: a viewer will certainly notice fallacy in your artwors.

Honestly, I would avoid being so self-confident to define my art as psychological one, though I make an attempt to maintain psychological component in my artworks. In particular, I want my viewers to accept the challenge of self questioning and self-analysis. I invite them to live through my experiences together: they may not share my vision, my symbolic or graphical language but while provoking them to empathy or recentness I hope that in the end of their journey through my sacred world they will be able to get rid of something unpleasant through irony, disagreement or feeling of commonality. I invite them to confront fears and problems openly, re-accentuate them and, thus, feel free from them.

We have appreciated the way you investigate about man’s interaction with his environment through an effective non linear narrative. In particular, when playing with the evokative power of reminders to universal imagery your abstract approach establishes direct relations with the viewers that goes beyond any conventional symbolism: German multidisciplinary artist Thomas Demand once stated that "nowadays art can no longer rely so much on symbolic strategies and has to probe psychological, narrative elements within the medium instead". What is your opinion about it? And in particular how do you conceive the narrative for your works?

We definetely love the dialogue established by colors and texture, which is a crucial part of your style: in particular, the effective combination between intense nuances of tones and rigorous geometrical patters sums

You have captured that precisely, provoking a dialogue between two personalities (me, as an artist, and my viewer) is the ultimate goal of

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My graphical style and limited color palette allow keeping distance from imageries. They serve as a sort of a lens for me and for the viewers. But, being distant on the one hand, I am so deeply immersed in my working process on the other, that I can describe my psychological condition during the process of art making as a kind of meditation. All my works expose personal feelings including my secret weaknesses. Putting them on the paper allows me to get released from negative emotions and reassess life experiences. After finishing each single piece of art I enjoy an overwhelming feeling of freedom. This “freedom through drawing” makes me happy in the true sense. We have appreciated the way you wisely balance with a careful attention to the equilibrium concerning the composition: the multilayered experience to whom you invite the viewers gives a permanence to the intrinsic ephemeral nature of the notion of sight. So we would take this occasion to ask you if in your opinion personal experience is an absolutely indespensable part of a creative process... Do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience?

up the mixture of thoughts and emotions. How much does your own psychological make-up determine the nuances of tones you decide to use in a piece and in particular, how do you develop a painting’s texture? Moreover, any comments on your choice of "palette" and how it has changed over time?

This is a very good question and I have already touched upon it in my answers above. I am firmly convicned that ‘personal’ is an indispensible characteristic of art. For me referring to experiencies is essential and I see a kind of kinship between creative process and confession. As an artist I have a deep need in public exposure, but bringing my weaknesses and worries to the public eye requires courage. Nevertheless, referring to my personal experience is the only way for me to counter them completely and to create honest and touching artwork.

Despite a great degree of eclecticism in my works I prefer to pose myself as an illustrator and graphics remains to be my true passion. “The devil is in the detail” they say and I pay a lot of attention to thorough elaboration of the tiniest details endowing them with special symbolic meanings. Ornamentality and decoration stem from that, making my works more 'sur' rather than realistic. In certain works comics-like simplification also dominates the artistic manner. I prefer to keep to black and white palette, however it isn’t easy to be expressive within such limited color frames. So, this choice of dichotomy imposes additional semantic loading on textures you create. I consider this deliberate limitation as a sign of my personal growth as a graphical artist.

One of the hallmarks of your work is the capability to create a direct involvement with the viewers, who are urged to evolve from a condition of mere spectatorship. So before leaving this conversation we would like to pose a question about the nature of the relationship of your art with your audience. Do you consider the issue of audience

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reception as being a crucial component of your decision-making process, in terms of what type of language is used in a particular context?

Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Alexandra. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving?

This is a tricky question because it contains certain controversy for me. On the one hand, my art is personal and intimate: it is a window to a secret world of my personality and my personal way to counter my weaknesses and fears. On the other hand, I believe that there is no art where conversation with a potential viewer is absent. In my opinion, conversational and involving nature of any creative process is indisputable. And I always carefully consider my choice of means, techniques, textures, symbols and other visuals to make my conversation with audience as smooth and slick as possible.

Upon the whole, I consider my artistic career to be on the go right now. My move to Moscow has contributed greatly to my firm confidence in self-perception as an artist. First I felt a little bit excluded from the ‘creative elites’ but now I am gradually streamlining my social ties. I fell myself so creatively powerful as I have never before. I continue my self-education and produce some works daily. I keep abreast of the new developments in illustration and graphics and maintain my library with ‘icon’ illustrators. I also participate in a plenty of workshops and visit open lectures. Moscow provides one with a plenty of opportunities for artistic growth.

At the same time, I do not want my art to become populist. I feel convenient when I face misunderstanding and criticism from my viewers. Any emotion is better than nothing. Provoking on feeling and thinking is enough for me to label this or that piece of art successful. I do not want my viewers to dominate my artistic decision-making: as I see it, being autonomous and independent in creative process is the most important value. To sum up, there always should be a balance between personal and social components in your art.

One of the greatest changes in my future plans is related to the fact that I have finally come over my fear of being ‘educated’ and now I feel an urgent need for wise tutorship. Basically, it is my current job that influenced me greatly in this sense. Working as teaching assistant of the art program at the children educational center has turned my perceptions of artistic education from upside down. This job is amusing and inspirational: it encourages practices of educational freedom and child’s development under supervision but not under control.

By the way, that is why I have never promoted my art as a commercial product intensively, though I receive some orders from time to time (posters, logos, T-shirts with my prints, etc.) All of them come from the word of mouth spread by my friends. I have never considered my art as the only source of my living. On the contrary, it is much better for me when I can develop myself not being dependent on what I am doing in monetary terms. Enjoying this freedom allows me to avoid stamps and conformity with fashion and remain loyal to my own artistic vision.

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Now I have a couple of illustration programs at consideration and I will certainly make the best use from one of them. I expect this step to give me a new lease of life and enrich my arsenal of techniques as well boost the limits of my artistic vision. Illustration is the stream I am extremely comfortable in and I want to dedicate as much of my creative energy as possible into it.

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Kelvin Ke My natural tendency as a filmmaker is usually to work with narratives and storytelling. But as I developed as a media practitioner, I began working in nonnarratives and abstractions by exploring cinematic duration and stillness generated by long takes from fixed camera positions. I have become increasingly absorbed in exploring the relationship of time and duration with experiencing moving images and engaging a deep involvement with the viewers, both on an emotional aspect and on an intellectual one. In doing so, I take inspiration from an eclectic mix of artists such as Henri Chomette, James Benning, Andrei Tarkovsky, Patrick Keiller and Trinh T. Minh-ha. Spiral was a single channel experimental video that was embedded and nested with different layers of imagery related to Eastern religions. It is a structural play on form, colours and circular motion in relations to mysticism and the inner eye. The process took a lot of iterations and time in rendering certain effects and movements which I wanted to be precise but at same time fluid and spontaneous. Light Sketch was inspired by a reading of Gaston Bachelard’s Poetics of Space in investigating the intimate spaces of home. In so doing, I wanted to capture the passing of time and how light pouring into my room not only cast shadows into the room but also reveal material texture of my surroundings. I was interested in the interplay between movement and stasis. Video Sketches 01 and 02 are part of an on-going media practice into using the fixed camera and long takes in exploring stillness and movement. It is motivated by a need to capture the passing of time in space and landscape. It is not so much sense-making of place but trying to have a moment of pause in meditating in place and images of place. My works have been shown internationally in institutions and festivals such as The Substation, NAFA Gallery, Singapore Art Museum, Chicago International Children Film Festival, Singapore International Film Festival and Beijing Movie Week Festival. I have previously taught film and video at Singapore Institute of Technology, Lasalle College of the Arts and Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts. Kelvin Ke

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An interview with An interview by Josh Ryder, curator and Melissa C. Hilborn, curator arthabens@mail.com

Kelvin Ke's work accomplishes an insightful exploration in the liminal area in which our perceptual categories are challenged by the urgence of rethinking the notions of time and duration. What mostly impressed of Ke's work is the way his unconventional gaze on contemporary age unveils the creative role of the spectator, discovering unsuspected but ubiquitous connections between art producing and the audience. We are particularly pleased to introduce our readers to his captivating production. Hello Kelvin and a warm welcome to ART Habens: to start this interview we would like to pose you a couple of questions about your background. Are there any experiences that have influenced your evolution as an artist? In particular, how does your cultural substratum inform the way you currently conceive and produce your works?

Born in Singapore, I grew up in a family that could be best describled as Anglophile as my father was of a generation of Peranakan Chinese who only spoke English and Malay. So that influenced my “cultural� outlook, so to speak, in being in-between cultures, between being Chinese and a Anglophile. Peranakan culture is bascially a cultural fusion due to inter-marriages between Malay and Chinese so that really informed my own perspective of being in this mixing of cultures and indirectly contributed to my feeling of being an outsider and not really belonging into any cultural groups. I suppose one can say that by being an outsider or being in-between cultures sort of informed my own way of working and looking at things

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But we live in a world that is dominated by what is really American culture in media, music and art so maybe this position of being in-between is probably more widespread and present with other people from other countries. In a way, we are all in-between and outside but at the same time, connected. So that is something I feel is always sort of in the background for me. We would like to focus on your artistic production beginning from Spiral: an

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extremely interesting work that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article: and I would suggest to visit https://vimeo.com/99917301 in order to get a wider idea of it. In the meanwhile, want to take a closer look at the genesis of this interesting project: in particular, how did you come up with the idea for Spiral?

The project was really a work that resulted from footage shot from another project that I had great difficulty in trying to put together. It was probably frustration at my own ability and thought process for that project that I decided to start looking for something lighter to engage my mind and to start working on something. Spiral was actually inspired by a street in Singapore where I would pass by everyday on the way home. It is a street where they had a Hindu and Buddhist temple side by side and where on any given day there are lots of people visiting and worshipping. It is a really strange sight but it is also really facinating. It was probably a combination of personal frustration and inspiration that provoked me to develop some ideas in terms of life after death, reincarnation and karma. It was all very vague ideas and notions but there were something scary but stimulating about those ideas and concepts about life that really motivated me to develop my work.For some reason, the process connected me with the vision of Stan Brakhage in The Dante Quartet (1987) and I was really struck by the visual rhythmns and texture of the film. It was a very layed and textured piece of art that I thought was really visually stimulating as well as it gave me some confidence in exploring ideas along those lines in my work.

relationship between mysticism circular motion provides the viewers with a multilayered experience. So while asking you to walk our readers in the genesis of this interesting video, we would take this occasion to ask you if in your opinion personal experience is an absolutely indespensable part of a creative process...

Spiral features an unconventional narrative structure and draws a lot from the imagery related to Eastern religions. In particular, the way you investigate about the

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Do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience?

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but I think that it has to feel really strong to your own sense of who you are and what it is you want to express in a work. So in a way the creative process and work is probably a direct expression of your emotion to how you feel about certain concepts, ideas, stimuli, or even a expression of real-life experiences in an

I think a creative process, in a way, is driven by both a personal motivation in creating a work of art, and driven by experiences of something. I cannot say for sure if its really from direct experience in a empirical sense

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tradition but takes advantage of an insightful digital technologies: the impetuous way modern technology has nowadays came out on the top has dramatically revolutionized the idea of Art itself. In a certain sense, we are forced to rethink about the intimate aspect of constructed realities and especially about

work of art. I guess the word is authencity but not in the sense of a direct expression of a real-life experience but how you feel regarding someone or something. I think that is important in the process. We have particularly appreciated the way Spiral comes out of the experimental video

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to each other... what's your point about this?

I think technology and especially digital technologies has always been a good friend to experimental filmmaking and to video art. Any artists, be they traditional filmmakers or video artists, always have to deal with a certain dilemma of technology which is a dilemma of balancing form, content and meaning in a work of art. Moving images, film or video, are like any other materials; in the sense that it has its own technology and techniques, working process and traditions. But at the same time, it has so many possiblities because film, video or whatever you want to call the moving image provide video artists with a lot of tools to work with in any kind of projects. Art does not necesarily have to be a physical and tactile object. But at the same time, I think film and video can be also be physical and tactile in terms of looking back at the structuralist films of the 60s and 70s. But art, technology and materials have such a complicated relationship that sometimes it can really bother people in terms of watching video art or experimental filmmaking. Of course not all moving images are art, as in of a high asethetical value but then again not all paintings or sculpture or whatever artform are anyway. At the end of the day, it really depends on the creative proces and more importantly on the emotional or affective response a producer wants to generate in viewers. My view is that the idea of constructed realities and materiality of art would only grow more complicated as digital technologies develop, sometimes adversarial, sometimes collegial, but this can only be good for art as it provides a discourse into exploring news and different ways of expression. Even though the relationship between technology and art can

the materiality of an artwork itself, since just few years ago it was a tactile materialization of an idea. I'm sort of convinced that new media will definitely fill the apparent dichotomy between art and technology and I will dare to say that Art and Technology are going to assimilate one

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sometimes be problematic, at the same time it also open the artist up to all kinds of possiblities in creating new and interesting ways in creating vidoes, in provoking new ways of looking at things and their surrounding conditions. When inquiring into the relationship of time and duration, we can notice that the substratum on which your process find its natural starting point is incessantly subverted by your non linear narrative that suggests us a process of deconstruction, recontextualization and assemblage on both a semantic aspect and on a formal one. What is it specifically about deconstruction and which fascinates you and make you want to center your artistic style around it?

Deleuze writes about the multiplicities of possibilities of modern cinema and allows us to see that time flows independently and directly in his book The Time-Image. That is what i think is the power of moving images and video art. Film and video provides endless possibilities to manipulate time, duration, space and movement. I am not a very disciplined craftsman in the sense that I work in developing series or sets or recurrent themes. So that sort of frustrates and also motivate me to go on different tangents in my narratives or nonnarratives. This relates back to a process of constantly trying to form, reform and reinforce my artistic approach and concepts by recontextualising the meanings and content of my work. The whole set up of using digital technologies also allow video artist and filmmakers to be able to brave and creative and to allow themselves to open up to experimenting and exploring different permutations. It also encourages a process where the only limit is your own creative process and conceptions. So from there, I

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think using digital technologies really free up any worries or doubts in being brave in trying out new things. Another interesting work of yours that has particularly impacted on us and on which we would liek to spend some words is

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entitled Light Sketch: way you capture the passing of time as well as the ambience created by your careful composition reveals material texture of your surroundings. What has mostly impacted on us is the way this urges the viewer to rethink about the notion of personal space, suggesting that

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some informations & ideas are hidden, or even "encrypted" in the environment we live in, so we need -in a way- to decipher them. Maybe that one of the roles of an artist could be to reveal unexpected sides of Nature, especially of our inner Nature... what's your point about this?

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texture of my room. It is in a way an intimate and personal exploration of my personal space, a place where I reside and call my home. I think the light was really important because I am always very interested in the interaction of light with materials. I hope that in a small way the

Light Sketch was really inspired by Bachelard’s Poetics of Space and trying to develop a work in relation to his writing. I wanted to capture the passing of time and how the light that was streaming into my window was interacting with the material

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surrounded by some element of nature and we only need to take a pause and really see it. By definition video is rhythm and movement, gesture and continuity. In your videos you create time-based works that induce the viewer to abandon himself to his associations, looking at time in spatial terms and I daresay, rethinking the concept of space in such a static way: this seems to remove any historic gaze from the reality you refer to, offering to the viewers the chance to perceive in a more atemporal form. How do you conceive the rhythm of your works?

I don’t think that the idea of using slower rhythms and constructing works that comtemplates space and time was really a conscious form of practice. But i realise that i was always, at least in my work, very curious in using longer durations in a way that plays with rhythm and movement. I guess I am more interested in seeing how expanded time and looking at spaces can actually be rather revealing. It is interesting that the words static and gazing have been used to descibe my work.I don’t necessarily disagree but I think my idea was always to provide a space where my work can be a opening for comtemplation and meditation on forms, colours, shapes and rhythms. Over these years your works have been internationally exhibited in several institutions and festivals, including The Substation, Singapore Art Museum and Beijing Movie Week Festival. So before leaving this conversation we would like to pose a question about the nature of the relationship of your art with your audience. Your work is strictly connected to the chance of establishing a direct involvement with the viewers, who are called to evolve from a mere spectatorship to conscious participants on an intellectual level. Do you consider the issue of audience reception as

viewer can see that in our personal space that light and especially sunlight can suggeast some kind of “hidden” ideas or information about how we live and affected by light. It is also the importance of how nature plays a role in our lives even though we are mostly indoors. We are always

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being a crucial component of your decision-making process, in terms of what type of language is used in a particular context?

My weakness as a artist was always the inability to connect directly with my audiences. With that said, that does not mean that I do not want to do so. I think a work really reveal the artist behind the production and people have said that I always try to put a distance between myself and the viewer. That is probably why my work tends to be rather formal and static in a sense. But at the same time, I also hope that my work can connect with audiences in a intellectual level and not necessarily an emotional one. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Kelvin. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving?

Firstly, I am glad to be able to have an opportunity to talk about my work and work process. I am currently being persuaded by the idea of using film and video to explore time and passing scenes of everyday life. In a way, it is a form of spatial practice that echoes the sociological theories of Henri Lefebvre; that our social space is a result of our own social relations and production and that art can examine and reveal certain aspects of our lived space. In so doing, I hope to be able to make more works and whether if it is narrative-based or non-narratives, I am not sure but I am working hard to develop more works in the future.

An interview by Josh Ryder, curator and Melissa C. Hilborn, curator arthabens@mail.com

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Shih-Hong Chuang is a new media artist and a member of Lin Peychwen+ Digital Art Lab from Taiwan. His works combine different new media such as videos, sounds, computer program, software and interactive installation. Currently he is a graduate student in Graduate School of New Media Art at National Taiwan University of Arts. Ming-chin Kuo is a Guzheng player and the leader of Three PeopleMusic and a member of Tenrealms. He graduated from Chinese Music Department of National Taiwan University of Arts. Kuo's music is inspired and guided to the track of Chinese music by Prof. Li-Chiung Chang. Now, video, 2013 he is working with Shih-Hong Chuang to create a new Chinese music combines with new media art. 022 4

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Shih-Hong Chuang and Ming-chin€Kuo have established a proficient collaboration that during these years has lead them to conceive works capable of offering a multilayered experience, urging the viewers to rethink about the ambiguous dichotomy between the perceptual reality and an utopian dimesio In their The Thinking Of Contradictions that we'll be discussing in the following pages, they give to the intrinsic ephemeral nature of Perception a permanence that goes beyond usual videomaking. One of the most convincing aspect of their approach is the way they

suggest an unexplored area of interplay where we are invited to investigate about the relationship with reality and the way we perceive it. I'm very pleased to introduce our readers to their refined artistic production. Hello Chuang and a warm welcome to LandEscape: before starting to elaborate about your production, would you like to tell to our readers something about your process and set up for making your artworks? In particular, what technical

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aspects do you mainly focus on your work? And how much preparation and time do you put in before and during the process of creating a piece?

In the process of creating this artwork, the first thing to keep in mind is how Leap Motion detects the hand gestures of the performer so as to facilitate interacting image variations. As to the hardware and software being adopted, the artwork is created through a combination of three software, processing, Resolume Arena and Pure Data. Through simple software of Spout, I delivered the image executed by processing to Resolume Arena. Arena was then applied in controlling all images. Even though it seems simple through words description, the artwork took me a whole year to produce. Multidisciplinarity is a crucial aspect of your art practice and your work ranges from videos and sounds to computer program, software and interactive installations: you seem to be in an incessant search of an organic, almost intimate symbiosis between several viewpoints, that converge into a coherent unity: while crossing the borders of different artistic fields have you ever happened to realize that a symbiosis between different disciplines is the only way to achieve some results, to express some concepts?

One of the most interesting things about interdisciplinary creation is that once you combine two or more professional disciplines in artwork creation, you’re more than likely to find numerous conflicting points. Among these conflict points, common characteristics were found for further merging and evolving. Deeply caught in the paradox thinking, an inspiration suddenly struck me. Undoubtedly, the combination of guzheng and Leap Motion is mutually corresponding. The combination of traditional musical instrument and advanced media device repre-

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sent the conflict and collision between sensitivity and rationality. Development for this type of artwork is in fact a pure coincidence. Now let's focus on your artistic production: I would start from The Thinking Of Contradictions, an extremely interesting video that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article: and I would suggest our readers to visit directly at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DHkjEbl yP8w in order to get a wider idea of it. In the meanwhile, would you tell us something about the genesis of this interesting project? What was your initial inspiration?

Before engaging in the artwork creation, “Stay with me� was created through the joint effort of DALAB members and I. Detecting device of Leap Motion was applied in producing this artwork. This occasional circumstance has motivated me to delve into the research about Leap Motion. In the process of planning, a guzheng performance has suddenly inspired me. Therefore, an innovative idea of combining these two elements together began to form in my mind. The augmented ambience created by The Thinking Of Contradictions has some references to the concept of heterotopia elaborated by Michel Foucault. What has mostly impacted on me is the way you have been capable of bringing a new level of significance to signs, and in a wide sense to re-contextualize the concept of the environment we inhabit in. This is a recurrent feature of your approach that invite the viewers' perception in order to challenge the common way to perceive not only the outside world, but our inner dimension... By the way, I'm sort of convinced that some informations & ideas are hidden, or even "encrypted" in the environment we live in, so we need -in a way- to decipher them. Maybe that one of the roles of an artist could be to reveal

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unexpected sides of Nature, especially of our inner Nature... what's your point about this?

Many people are shy to identify with their innermost feelings. However, as professional artists, we try to interpret common human behaviors through various artworks. These creations enable more viewers to inspect their innermost feelings, so as to motivate them in identifying with the artworks and their innermost feelings. However, some profound essence is difficult to be interpreted through simple approach. Provided that an ordinary subject is granted with another profound connotation, would it make people wonder about a different meaning and existence if the identical subject is been inspected from another perspective? Whether or not there are hidden information waiting to be decoded in the artworks wouldn’t yields much effect concerning the previous speculation. But an artist’s extremely detailed investigation towards intrinsic nature of the subject is undeniable. Interpretation through the means of artworks often yields better effect than through regular media. Who would want to read an article full of preaches? Allowing viewers with room for speculation through artworks has thus become the best policy. I have been impressed with your investigation about the psychological nature of the cinematic image. In particular, when I first happened to get to know with this work I tried to relate all the visual information and the presence of a primary element as water to a single meaning. I later realized I had to fit into the visual rhythm suggested by the work, forgetting my need for a univocal understanding of its symbolic content: in your work, rather that a conceptual interiority, I can recognize the desire to enabling us to establish direct relations... Would you say that it's more of an intuitive or a systematic process?

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I think it is a process with intuitive tendency. Standing on the viewers’ perspectives, they often come up with different interpretations to what the artwork tries to convey. It is hard to guide the viewers to contemplate and understand from the artwork’s original ideal. And it is a major problem encountered by many artists. How to motivate the viewers to associate with the artwork’s original ideal through accurate image production is a challenge waiting for me to conquer. The performative feature of The Thinking Of Contradictions invites the viewers to a complex multilayered experience, in which Utopia and perceptual reality seems to merge into a coherent unity, in a surreal background. Surrealism might be a deeply subjective practice, but by definition it is also a hyperrealist one. In your filmmaking the Fantastic and the Real are rendered in clear, precise images. How did you develop your visual imagery?

While contemplating on the artwork, rationality and sensibility in human emotion is a contradictory and interacting existence. In developing the image which represents sensibility, my intuitive image is ocean and cosmos. Both of them convey the same meaning of overarching. But between these two options, I would choose the former, since it is much more exquisite and abundant than the latter. Developmental process of the railway is to represent the defined and regular direction to connect to the rationality. Railway which emerges from the sea level is to represent the gradually strengthened and rationalized determination.Rational choice theory assumes that an individual has subjective preference permutation according to different choice results. Rational choice theory could be generalized into utilitarianism or maximization. Rational individual tends to adopt the best strategy so as to receive maximum benefit through minimum effort. The last image which consisted of

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line, dot and explosion is improvised from this classical theory. Line represents the process of rational thinking, dot indicates the best strategy found in the process of rational thinking, and explosion denotes the maximum benefit gained through the effort of applying the best strategy. As an individual who tend to adopt sensitivity way of thinking, I applied the concept of time slip and backtrack the entire artwork to the beginning image of ocean. One of the most epiphanic feature of your work is concerned with the relation with Perception and Experience in the unstable contemporary age. The way you question the intimate consequences of constructed and imposed realities as has reminded me of Thomas Demand's works: while conceiving Art could be considered a purely abstract activity, there is always a way of giving it a permanence that goes beyond the intrinsic ephemeral nature of the concepts you capture. So I would take this occasion to ask you if in your opinion personal experience is an absolutely indespensable part of a creative process... Do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience?

I don’t assume that artwork could be deviated from personal experiences. If an artwork is deviated from personal experiences, it would lack individual characteristics. If an artist adopts other individual’s experience as reference without incorporating personal experience into the artwork, the resulting artwork would often involve a shade of grey, completely deprived of originality and distinctiveness. In the process of artwork creation, intuition plays a pivotal role in presenting your innermost feelings onto the canvas. In fact, it could never be too farfetched to call intuition as a stroke of light. The idea suddenly emerges from nowhere has everything to do with your daily experiences. That’s why personal experience is critically important in artwork creation.

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I do believe that interdisciplinary collaboration as the one that you have established with Ming-chin€Kuo is today an ever growing force in Art and that that most exciting things happen when creative minds from different fields of practice meet and collaborate on a project... could you tell us something about this effective synergy? By the way, the artist Peter Tabor once said that "collaboration is working together with another to create something as a synthesis of two practices, that alone one could not": what's your point about this? Can you explain how your work demonstrates communication between two artists?

As I have mentioned before, the combinations of different disciplinary would create various artworks. While I am an artist specialized in interdisciplinary art, Kuo, Mingchin is a musician specialized in guzheng performance. Since we specialized in two very different disciplinary, we uphold different perspectives towards artwork creation. Regarding to my professional specialty, interdisciplinary cooperation is a common scene. However, Kuo discussed interdisciplinary cooperation from the stand point of a musician. Numerous ramifications have arises due to our conflicting ideals and perspectives. In Kuo’s opinion, interdisciplinary cooperation requires the participants to respectively prepare their own music and image through their personal ideals. Spark generated from the live performance is thus the real essence of interdisciplinary art. In my opinion, the two participants should be touched by the creator’s original ideal. Through communication and rehearsal, the most suitable image generated from the original ideal would become the essence of interdisciplinary art. Since the live performance is an improvisation. Association between tune performed by the musician and image created by the artist is still imperfect. It is currently an obstacle waiting for us to conquer.

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Before taking leave from this interesting conversation I would like to pose a a question about the nature of the relation with your audience: In particular, do you consider the issue of audience reception as well positive feedbacks as being a crucial component of your decision-making process in terms of what type of language for a particular context?

The answer is positive. All artworks presented around you are my second edition. Since my image comprehension and program completeness in the preceding artworks were still immature, many seniors and peers have granted me with abundant suggestions in creating better images for the original artworks through more precise ideals. Tr. Li, Jiaxiang has even guided me to make adjustment and improvement in the program. Therefore, artworks in the second edition are undoubtedly satisfactory. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Chuang. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving?

There are probably two future objectives for me to achieve. One is to further investigate into the digital musical instrument. Another is to maintain the current performing approach. Regarding to digital musical instrument, Leap Motion is applied in detecting the hand gestures and positions of the performer so as to simulate the melody played from guzheng. As to the current performing approach, test and improvement would be made in the detection accuracy of hand gestures and positions. More precise images and connotations would be applied so as to accurately present what the original ideal tries to convey. In my opinion, the combination of traditional musical instrument and advanced media device would become one of the mainstream in future performance.

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Lee Clift The art I produce is about objects, people, emotions and places. I often use found materials or location, this takes me on an exploration of reactions to those objects or places. The perception between object and viewer is where my interests lays. I think ever artist goes through a relinquishing of personal ownership of what they produce and the realisation of that separateness of ownership. I have always been interested in the effect of visceral experiences, the object is merely a conduit of emotion and has no meaning or attachment other than where it takes me. I see everything as a construct of a composed reality within the work and this reality finds me as much as I find it. I explore the construction of these unrelated objects that create an otherwise invisible narrative to create a new way of thinking and seeing (the unseen), I consider it a cut and paste form of meditation providing a new trains of thought that are often a pertinent starting point for the previously unknown, although sometimes there is little meaning in the initial encounter often they form relationships when conjoined over time and space. leaving it to nurture inside. It is the mystery of attraction, interaction and chance. Objects possess a soul and they wait for the right person or situation to charge them with an energy and frequency that is otherwise dormant. I produce work through part instinct, part process and that most important element Chance although a belief in that chance mutates with every action. Like most artists this can become an obsessional reviewing and rearranging process if you let it overtake you, but I revel in the unperfected, unfinished state, its an acquired skill to recognise when something is incomplete but balanced, in this hectic media filled world stopping to look and contemplate is what I realise benefits my work the most. The trivial things of life are often the most interesting aspects of looking, I think this attitude stems back to a childhood spent playing with a set of miniature soldiers. looking intently at them taught me to go inside myself and create a separate reality, your attention can start a new path of thinking, often there is no deep thought put into this, it is only over time that a solid idea is created, I run with everything I think could be a starting point until I realise it is going nowhere, I then move on, it is like a car journey where you read the signs to the next location. I like the fact that the results are often not the initial intention but a unique and surprising outcome. We are influenced by everything we consume and our head space is the only remaining refuge of an unmanipulated personal expression. Simplicity is beauty.

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video, 2013

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An interview with An interview by Dario Rutigliano, curator and Melissa C. Hilborn, curator arthabens@mail.com

Ranging in a wide variety of media, cross disciplinary artist Lee Clift is now focussing on the notion of repetition: his work Sound Generation Prototype No2, that we'll be discussing in the following pages, is an attempt to remove the artist/composer from the production of composition and invites the viewers to explore the ubiquitous relationships between objects and place, bringing to a new level of significance to the concepts of authenticity and meaning. One of the most convincing aspects of Clift's work is the way he forces our perceptual parameters to create a concrete aesthetic from experience and memories: we are very pleased to introduce our readers to his refined artistic production. Hello Lee and welcome to ART Habens. We are always interested in the stories behind how an artist became an artist: to start this interview, would you like to tell our readers something about your background? In particular, are there any experiences that informed your cultural substratum and that impact on the way you relate yourself to art making?

Lee Clift

Like a lot artists it started for me with a love of drawing as a child, I spent a great deal of time exploring this imersive world and I could truely loose myself in it, I remebered I used to imitate noises of the objects I was drawing, even then the world was audioble as well as visual to me, I grew up in a working class environment, being an Artist was never concidered a worthy pursuit, my family were mainly builders so it was inevitable that I would be one to, I did that for a few years but I never really felt I was in the right place, it did teach me some valuable

skills in construction. After the Building work period of my life I began work at IBM. For over ten years I was in a noise filled basement filled with large industrial photocopying equipment, these were hugh machines that printed the IBM educational material, it was a constant chugging noise that was at first nausiating but after a few mounths became unnoticable, the work was mainly heavy mannual work there were periods when all

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the machines were stocked with paper and you had nothing to do, I started to use these as an opitunity to read, I read extensivly on a wide range of subjects including Art, this was the begining of my conecting the possibility of becoming an artist, I started getting together a portfolio of work secretly, at this point I was more interested in living life than any posibility of it becoming an Artist, that all changed though with a back injury I sustained from the repetative action of the work I was doing. I became pretty much useless for mannual work, the pain was immence, this is where my Art schooling started as I enrolled on what they called an Access course, it covered various subjects printing, photography, ceramics the usual Art subjects. I met some amazing people on this course and some really great lectures who's encouragement pushed me to the next level of going to University. I leaned heavily towards wanting to be a painter, I showed promise in that area and got an interveiw at Winchester School of Art with Nick Stewart the head of fine art, I showed him my portfolio which he quickly flicked through, I left thinking it had gone badly, but to my astonishment I recieved a letter obtaining a place. university taught me new ways of thinking and I became interested in using video and sound,Winchester School of Art has a great library so I started looking beyond my preconceptions of what Art is and could be. One lecture stands out in my mind the day Brain Eno and Paul Morley came, I was a fan of his and I loved "Another Green Planet" the penny dropped in that lecture about the importance of sound in everything I was doing, until i'd joined that dot it was on the periferal for me.

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I finished my three years at univesity and obtained my degree, after leaving that intensly cloustered environment you have to start to make work on your own, this is the point that it becomes your practice, you are self governed and feedback becomes self regulatory, in a way I was lucky being a mature student because I already had a

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You are a versatile artist and we have particularly appreciated the interdisciplinary feature that marks out your multifaceted production. While superimposing techniques and concepts from different spheres and consequently crossing the borders of different artistic fields, have you ever happened to realise that a symbiosis between different viewpoints is the only way to convey the

certain disaplin, but even so my work suffered at first, paying the bills started to limit my output. I'm in a good place now I feel, exploring things I find intersting I use any spare money I get to produce work, it is as simple as that, Investigation, Investigation, Investigation.

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ideas you explore and to express specific concepts?

in control as well as experimentation, what I mean by that is it partly releases you from determining the out come of a process, it is about chance as much as it is about selection, you are dealing with a mental aesetic as well as a visual aesetic. Releasing total control over any action I believe is mentally impossible there is always something of you in every action, its

The symbiosis of different veiw points to me is an area I'm greatly intersted in, I think that started for me with reading about Surrealism, that pairing of random words and objects to form a new meaning has a poetical beauty about it, it is a lesson

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For this special issue we have selected Sound Generation Prototype No2 that our readers have already started to get to know in the ntroductory pages of this article: the main idea behind this stimulating works is an attempt to remove the artist/composer from the production of composition: when we first happened to get to know it we tried to relate all the information to a single meaning. But we soon realized that we had to fit into the unity suggested by your approach, forgetting our need for a univocal understanding of its content: in your videos, rather that a conceptual interiority, we can recognize the desire to enabling us to establish direct relations... Would you say that it's more of an intuitive or a systematic process?

I would have to say both to that question, intuitive and systematic. In the early phase of the Prototype experiment I developed the idea on a long walk that I take every morning, I find this helps me clear those things that keep circling your thoughts, I suppose its a form of meditation, anyway the idea was fully formed in my head when I returned to my sudio but it was a different concept entirely that involved ping pong balls on a rotating machine, I sketched out that idea and as I progressed I realised that I would have to simplify it mainly because of cost of matterials, nesessity as they say is the mother of invetion, so I built Prototype No1 out of cardboard and gaffer tape and substituted the ping pong balls for marbles, this was purely a test to see if it was sonicaly palitable. There was a lot of ajusting involved because of various factors, at the time I was interested in musical composition and also systems, I was looking for a method to detach the performer from interpreting the sound and thus reacting to it, I suppose I wanted to remove the human element, the machine

what makes everyone unique. How we make those connections is the interesting part, life is all about connection, we look for path ways and we also constuct them. Removing choice is an interesting experiment but impossible to achieve, we always like one thing more than another.

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was the means of removing that interaction, repertition was a means also of removing the temptation to move toward harmony, the drone I feel shifts us towards a state of reflection and that was part of the original conception the watching element. Sound Generation Prototype No2 us has impressed us also for its successful attempt to go beyond a mere interpretative aspect of the reality you refer to. As the late Franz West did in his installations, your work seems to reveal unconventional aesthetics in the way you deconstruct and assemble memories into our collective imagery, to draw the viewer into a process of self-reflection. What is the role of memory in your approach?

I think memory forms all our reactions to any aeshetic, we can't escape the fact that we are what we believe we are, I embrace that and the reaction of others to what you present shouldn't in my opinion desire any specific responce, once you've concived it it is no longer owned by you, this is something some artist find hard to grasp, I personaly love the way children percieve the world, it is memory in action they bypass intention and go with gut responce from what they know its a purer form of thought. Memory played a significaant roll for me on Prototype No2 because the materials were metal parts used from my deceased Grandfathers old workshop, this brought back the smell and sound of that place on a personal level, this would have no relevance to anyone else, but it was a factor for me. Process changes all the time, even through I explore developing systems that are ridged I always addear to the need for flexability, outcome is never predetermind. I am always amazed by reactions from other people, they tell you about things

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that were never there conciously but subconciously you must be thinking about them, that is interesting to me. Sleep plays an important roll in my formation of ideas, I always have a notepad to wake up to. What has at soon caught our eyes of your approach is the way it unveils the convergence between reminders to universal imagery and a abstract gaze on the elusive concept of space. Such compelling combination reminds us of the idea behind Thomas Demand's works, when he states that "nowadays art can no longer rely so much on symbolic strategies and has to probe psychological, narrative elements within the medium instead". While the conception of Art could be considered an abstract activity, there is always a way of giving it a sense of permanence, going beyond the intrinsic ephemeral nature of those concepts you explore. So we would take this occasion to ask you if in your opinion, personal experience is absolutely indispensable as part of the creative process? Do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience?

I am part of the last generation that remembers a pre-internet age and also life before the mobile phone,these two inventions have radically changed space, making it smaller, I remember how it felt before these two inventions and they completely altered the world, I have always loved and embraced technology though, I mention this because I think what Demand's say about symbolic strategies is very true now, knowledge is readily available and this makes a difference in peoples perception, we are in a symbiotic relationship with our media devices they feed us new naratives constantly that subtely manipulate us.

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Probing the psychological is probably the only new horizon left it interests me a great deal in myself and others, changing pschology is the holy grail of thought, I tend to embrace everything that is unexspected I don't know about anyone else but I love to be surprided at life its an emotion you can't manipulate there is a purity to it, our knowledge base now is so vast that not much surprises us, repitition of information I think can ultimatly dull the senses to a point where manipulating conections in peoples thinking has become a complicit action, happening in a state of complete apathy. I concider most activities to be abstract not just art, disconecting personal experience from the creative process is I find almost impossible but looking for ways to distort your approach to a subject is something I always try to do, I am trying to develope systems but at the same destroy them. Your approach to ideas as an artist is forever changing and developing ideas should never become routine. A crucial aspect of your practice concerns the exploration of the relationships between found objects and places: as you have remarked once, you like the fact that the results are often not the initial intention but a unique and surprising outcome. When highlighting the evokative potential and the emotional contents of objects, you seem to urge us to challenge the relation between our cultural substratum and our limbic perceptual parameters: to quote Simon Sterling's words, this could force things to relate that would probably otherwise be unrelated. Do you agree with this interpretation? And in particular, what is the creative role that chance plays in your approach?

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The more I have thought about this aspect of my practice the clearer it becomes, we try our hardest to form connections with most things, separation or isolation unnerves us, we form a narative with virtually everything we see, as soon as we

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make a suggestion of an objects relationship to another by placing it in a contained interacting environment they becomee relavant to each other, Life has aquired a heightened sense of interaction in recent years I think social media has

ART Habens

played a massive part in this, people have embraced it whole hartedly now, they use it in ways that they wouldn't act out in person, some people use their virtual persona in an emotional and potentialy dangerous way, we have a sort of collective

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conciousness now, the individual becomes less and less important, it is now an online collection of egos that we regulatate with our own moral codes, I have thousands of facebook friends and I have created lives for some of them purely by the things they

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post I don't know them personaly but I know their virtual lives that is what I mean by life being abstract now, I'm astounded daily by the openness of people that really just want an encouraging word.

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I think art will always remain a commodity in a monitary sense, any thing of value will always be used as a status symbol, this is the functional aspect to dealers, its big buisness, having said that though I believe art still has the power to change things even if it is only from the sidelines, I have seen people effected by art in a very intimate and personal manner I have felt it myself that is a hard thing to difine, there are so many annomillies involved in that expereince that I think it would be hard to define it in words. the functional aspect of art is endless but if we are talking about art on a spiritual level I do believe it enriches us as a collective, it is an undefinable nessesity for progression. It teaches us a lot. Your practice is connected to the chance of establishing a spontaneous involvement with the viewer - we daresay - deleting the forntiers betwee the author and the spectatorship. So, before taking leave from this interesting conversation I would like to pose a a question about the nature of the relation with your audience: in particular, do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decision-making process in terms of what type of language for a particular context?

I see the audience as a vital component to everything I do, even though I do make work that I never show, because on a personal level it is to intamate, this I suppose relates also to the idea of the conection between object and memory. I never get precious about my work, life teaches you that you really are not that important, so put it out there be shot down in flames, they are all just forks in a road that lead you to where you need to be, adversity always teaches you more. As to

Your works trigger primordial parameters concerning our relation with physicality: as Gerhard Richter once remarked, "my concern is never art, but always what art can be used for": what is your opinion about the functional aspect of Art in the contemporary age?

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Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Lee. Finally, would you like to tell our readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving?

being a crucial component to my decision making I would obviously take them in to consideration in the final stage but I believe strongly in instinct being a great gauge early on, what catches your attention in what is interesting, it's a simplistic approach but rule number one of any artist should be to look at what interests you and ask why?.

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I'm very obsessed with sound at this present time I have been recording

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everything, I'm particulaly interested in over heard bus conversations, I have a growing collection of what I'm calling Soundscapes that I'm working on, I am making connections in all aspects of visual and audioble media how sound can relate and transform the image, I do still paint a little but streets and forests have recently become my studio, people

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fasinate me, If I had to define my practice at the moment it would have to be all about movement and the interaction of sound. I think this will be an area I will be heading. Its been great talking to you and many thanks for this opitunity for explaining my work, you have helped me define it more in my own mind and connected a few more neural pathways......

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Anna Parisi Anna Parisi

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Graduated with a bachelor's degree in communications at PUC-Rio with a specialization in filmmaking, I started flirting with strategic planning back in 2009. I have worked in the marketing team at GPA PontoFrio - planning and approving all electronic media for TV and Radio. From there I worked at the design office Ana Laet, attending the Barra Shopping account and the Festival Panorama de Dança. I deepened my studies in planning and branding and consumer anthropology before moving on to work at Cravo Ofício Comunicação & Design as Strategic Planner with clients such as Natura and Coca-Cola Latin America. Before heading to New York City to study at the School of Visual Arts New York I acted as innovation and strategy consultant at MJV Technology and Innovation, performing research and defining all creative content strategy for both the marketing and innovation teams. My major aim was to unite both teams and promote a collaboration spirit within the leading teams. My love for strategic design, creativity and arts have always driven my eager need to learn and understand new processes and methodologies. For that reason, I accepted to work as assistant photographer for the french Gitty Darugar during my stay in New York City. Together we photographed both buildings built by Christian Portzamparc in Manhattan during the fall and winter of 2013.

video, 2013

Upon my return to Rio de Janeiro I was invited by FLAG - The Creative Disruptive Network to work as a freelance concept planner for specific projects at their hub inside W/McCann and in their newest office in Rio de Janeiro. During this intense period of work I dealt with clients such as Lojas Americanas, Pro Plan, Coca-Cola, Universal Channel and Revena. 022 4

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An interview with An interview by Josh Ryder, curator and Barbara Scott, curator arthabens@mail.com

Anna Parisi's work explores the elusive but ubiquitous sense of isolation that pervades contemporary societies, inviting the viewers to rethink about the concept of human relationships. In The Forget Me Not Postcard Project that we'll be discussing in the following pages, she highlights the need of establishing the true connections between people: her direct approach draws the viewers into a liminal area in which staticity and dinamism find an unexpected point of convergence, creating a compelling and multifaceted aesthetics. One of the most convincing aspect of Parisi's approach is the way it condenses the permanent flow of associations in the realm of memory and experience: we are really pleased to introduce our readers to her stimulating artistic production. Hello Anna and welcome to ART Habens: we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your background. Over these years you have earned a wide experiences working in agencies and about two years ago you finally decided to join the MA program at the School of Visual Arts in New York. What has lead you to make this leap in your career? In particular, how does the relationship between your Brazilian roots and a multicultural place as New York how do these experiences influence the way you relate yourself to art making and to aesthetics?

Anna Parisi

am, however, applying to three art schools in New York, but I will keep it a secret, for now, so that I don’t jinx it. Since I was small, I have had a connection to the arts. As a kid, I used to play the flute. When I got a little bit older, I was part of the lower school choir called “the musical stars” – we would dance and sing and act. I did drama plays and poetry readings. I wrote poems of my own. In high school I participated in the literature magazines both in English and Portuguese, writing poems and short essays. I loved photography. I LOVE photography still. My first college option was literature, and I studied it for a

Hello! First of all, thank you for the invitation to participate in this issue of Art Habens Contemporary Art Review, I am very pleased! Well, I would like to clear one thing out for the readers because maybe that got confused up; I am not enrolled in the MA program at the School of Visual Arts. I did attend several continuing education courses there in 2013 during a sabbatical period. I

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flight had been overbooked and I was stranded in Madrid. So I headed back to my hostel at four in the morning and managed to get inside the closed lobby, only to find that there was a barefoot drunk Swiss guy sitting down in the lobby as well. He held a cigarette in his hands but had no lighter. I had no cigarette to smoke but had a lighter. I wanted a cigarette; he needed a lighter – so a deal was made. We headed up to the terrazzo of the Madrilenian hotel and in a very Hollywoodian scene while the sun was rising; he told me that he was going to be a papa. I’m saying all this because this guy, Andre Cerbe asked me a question that was the first step for my whole career change; he asked: “what would you do tomorrow if you were not afraid.” It does seem lame and a little “eat, pray, love”, but that is when it all began. I endured one more year of corporate life and decided to head to New York for a small sabbatical period to take art courses. Since 2013 I have been to New York five times to take art courses, to visit schools, exhibitions, museums. I know where I want to be. I don’t remember who said this, but it is so absolutely true: “New York, it gets to you.” Maybe it was Paul Auster. Or maybe I want it to be Paul Auster because I love his writing so much. Anyways. I have carried New York inside me; just as all of Brazil has always been a companion to me. I studied at an American School my whole life. I went to New York for the first time when I was six, then never again until 28 years old. I had a dream of NYC in my head. But I know that New York does not feed all the parts of me.

year and a half. Then I switched to communications because I was afraid that, in Brazil, I wasn’t going to be able to have a secure future as a writer. But then again, what is security and who can guarantee tomorrow, right? Anyways, back then I was younger and had older parents that cared and loved me too much. They feared for me. They feared for this future I had chosen. Their idea of success involved a career based on monthly paychecks and office work. They knew no other option, and so they feared. I was young, and their fear became my fear. I graduated from Communications College with a minor in filmmaking. I just adored the life inside the set - the craziness of its rhythm. But I knew, that the movie set life was not for me, deep down I knew that screenplay was more my thing – but I kept quiet. The fear followed, and the pressures to earn money did too. So, soon enough I had to get working. I first worked at this major retail company called Ponto Frio and I just couldn’t see myself working there at all – it had nothing to do with me. It took me a while to learn that of course, but I learned quite quickly that to satisfy my family’s requests. I needed to find something that I liked working with that would give me the “stability” my family craved for. Marketing was just it – strategic planning, to be more exact. So I did that. I studied that. I read all the books I could. I took courses. I talked to every single hot shot in the market. And finally, I got a job. And I worked in agencies for a while. But I never did get the same goose bumps or the same butterflies in the stomach nor did tears roll down my face, as it did when I first saw the Winged Victory of Samothrace in the Louvre for the first time. Something just was not there.

There are three crucial aspects of living in New York that have influenced my work ever since I came back: the weather, the colors, and the shapes. New York is filled with different shapes. These geometries that overlap and reflect both modern and contemporary forms grasped my attention.

In 2012, I went on a trip to Spain by myself. I usually travel by myself. Curiously, when I was heading back, I missed my plane. The

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A stroll through the soothing and nurturing east village contrasted with the strict austerity of the financial district – I love it. I have to say that my first experiences with New York during the fall and winter were magical. The colors of fall were simply something new to me. There is no fall in Brazil. There is no intense red in nature except the dry red soil of Minas Gerais. I still feel that this red will translate into something in a further stage of my work – right now, I am still dealing with the colors of winter. I know for a fact that the Forget me not project was a reflection of this winter period, of this moment where I was up there in New York during the 2013 Polar Vortex, reflecting upon human connection, warmth, and touch. No wonder! I was cold, and I missed the sun! [Laughs] Carioca is the word used to call the people that were born and raised in Rio de Janeiro. There is a saying in Portuguese: “Cariocas hate cloudy days”. We hate rain and cold. We are sunny creatures. So, the winter and the fall changed me somehow. They were capable of bringing forth emotions that were repressed or long forgotten – winter and fall made me feel my own self in a very profound manner. It was an aesthetic experience of my own self. I have no doubt that I will be searching this experience again soon.

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I believe I do not have a process, but rather live within a process. I think my act of creating is an act of being in process, or rather being active in this thing I call my artistic process. I always felt I needed to express my overflowing feelings and perceptions of the world. I simply had to sit down, write or make a collage or photograph. My hands that always drew when I was younger got shy as the years evolved. But I always needed these same hands to manipulate paper. Collage was always there. There were only perhaps 4 or 5 years where I did not do one single collage – and I have no idea why. I simply stopped creating. Attending collage classes at School of Visual Arts made me touch and manipulate and feel again – as if paper, textures and sensibility all came together and my hands felt and spoke. In New York, I began collecting magazines. I am fond of working with very heavy or extremely fragile and translucent papers – and when picking magazine images, I prefer when they have a thick materiality to them. It didn’t take me a long time to notice that I loved collages with silhouettes and body parts. The absence of the silhouette when the image is removed through a process called decollage became an obsession. I believe that the absence of the silhouette reveals an ever waiting for the return of a figure that has left and shall never again be back. As if this “Saudade” I refer to in my works is a perpetual state of longing for something that is absent. Perhaps waiting for the return of a Godot that will never be back again, but not with the same pessimism – but with eyes that once in a while have mystical and symbolical encounters that are glimpses with this silhouette figure, this Godot, this holy grail and Dante’s Rose.

Before starting to elaborate about your production, would you like to tell to our readers something about your process and set up for making your artworks? In particular, as you have remarked in your artist's statement, the theme of "saudade" is a recurrent one in the works that we'll be discussing in the following pages. The word saudade, is well-known as it is a part of the title of an extremely popular song, but that cannot be properly translated into other languages. How does the elusive quality of saudade informs your work?

I believe that what is elusive about the word “Saudade” and the reason that it cannot be translated properly into other languages, is

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the fact that one cannot translate a word that is so drenched and entangled with the pure sensation and feeling that it evokes. Saudade is not a word. It is a feeling that someone decided to name, but never was able to translate. One can only know it, touch it; capture it fully if and only if one has lost something or someone so deeply.

the theme of "Saudade" without stumbling over the clear dichotomy between absence and presence. There would be no nostalgia if this absence was not completed by an immense presence. This presence that complements the absence is never there in reality. The South-African artist William Kentridge offers a perfect translation of this dichotomy in his 1991 drawing for the film "Sobriety, Obesity & Growing Old: Her Absence Filled The World". There, the concept of absence being able to complete and fill a void is a paradox in itself. But is there any other way to translate this emptiness? Can words convey the message so deeply as this paradox does?

I feel that I talk about this emptiness, this state of longing through my work. The unavoidable solitude that is common to everyone. I seek to convey the desire for a reconnection to something that feeds and nurtures us in our most humane aspects – the comprehension, compassion and humanity all of us crave for. Be it through postcards left around different cities of the world in the attempt to establish a connection between individuals. Or through collages that portray the emptiness of relationships and the way we interact with the world around us. Or perhaps even other projects of mine where I have sought to reestablish a connection between the individual citizens and their political participations – as, for example, when I presented the “Se Essa Rua Fosse Minha” project.

I question myself regarding the nature and the future of the “Forget Me Not Postcard Project” almost every other day. Its intrinsic process strays away from the digital medium and the contemporary dependency that our society has regarding the digital technologies, and shifts towards a more analogic approach. The major point that the project is proposed to discuss is specifically this reflection on how the digital technologies and social media are affecting inter and intrapersonal relationships and communication. However, I usually betray the core values of this project when I post an Instagram picture to report the developments of the project. The questions and ethical challenges regarding the inner processes of this project, many times clash with the needs to publicize the project itself. A simple decision of whether it should have a website, a Facebook or an Instagram account questions the very nature of the project. Sometimes I feel betraying my own ideas regarding its nature, but I figure that the act of reflecting upon an issue is of greater importance than the strictness of project parameters. The awareness of the problem is, at this time, more important than the rigorous process that the project requires. For me, the analogic action of

You are a versatile artist and we have highly appreciated the multifaceted feature that marks out your process and we would suggest our readers to visit http://cargocollective.com/annaparisi in order to get a synoptic view of the variety of your projects. While superimposing concepts and techniques from opposite spheres, have you ever happened to realize that a symbiosis between different viewpoints is the only way to achieve some results, to express specific concepts?

Sometimes this multifaceted feature that seems so characteristic of my process is quite confusing to manage. I do believe that certain concepts carry their opposites. For example, I find it rather difficult to deal with

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writing and delivering of each card is overridden by any exceptions that were granted to the process and making of the Forget Me Not Postcard Project.

the subways – all very proper, all very automatic, all very intrinsic to the behavior, chance had little space for action. New York: a liquid contemporary metropolis.

As artists we think we can translate the totality of concepts - with all its senses and nuances - that's a lie. Appointing a feeling and expressing the same feeling are two realities apart from each other - and what a task it is to translate feelings into artistic expressions!

I remember I bought a book down at Strand as I flipped past and skimmed through the pages while doing my laundry later that day, this passage stood out: “Its like a hurricane, a hurricane! There’s so much confusion here. Its like a hurricane.” I remember jotting down notes immediately on my cellphone. A reflection on how his modern age allows us to feel as if we are shielded and protected by the many screens around us. Protected by social media that prevent us from needing to interact face-toface with one another – we are always connected, hyper-connected and have fast access to anyone anywhere. The truth is, we are all islands - standing alone in a sea of turbulence. Connected, yet apart from each other. Craving to be part of something bigger, something more relevant – but we are not, we stand alone, sitting in our rooms. We are like messages in a bottle drifting and wandering at sea due to the coming and going of the tides.

All we have to do is reflect upon the Law of Polarity that states that everything is in a continuum and holds its opposite side: night and day, absence and presence, good and evil, life and death. Its hard not to convey a concept and have its opposing idea attached – inevitable, I’d say. We would like to start to focus on your artistic production beginning from The Forget Me Not Postcard Project, that our readers have already started to get to now in the introductory pages of this article. Would you like to walk our readers through your process when conceiving this stimulating process? In particular, what was your initial inspiration?

This was the spark that gave birth to the whole project. The whole concept revolved around the idea of messages drifting through space and waiting for a response, waiting to be found, craving for interaction. I believe that each art project needs to be guided by certain limitations, so I set the boundaries for this project: all postcards would be handwritten by myself, I would photograph the place where each card was left behind and all cards would be replied– provided they had a return address, of course.

New York is a huge city. Maybe not in size, but certainly in density. I realized that in New York life is lived by the clock – a schedule doctrine that most follow with discipline. Bumping by chance into a random person twice in the same day is almost as witnessing a miracle. In Manhattan, people cross the streets without looking at each other; they cruise blindly in the public space staring at their mobile devices. My first impressions of New York were of a robotic and automatic city – where everything and everyone knew their places and reacted accordingly to the blows of the hurricane. They walked fast, strayed from the homeless, stood to the right in the escalators, looked down without staring at

At first, I started leaving postcards myself. I walked through the city and left postcards around museums, subways, restaurants, libraries, shops – basically everywhere. Then I headed to New Jersey and left some in

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South Orange and Secaucus – I absolutely love South Orange in the winter. It didn’t take me long to notice that I would need help. Upon my return home from my sabbatical, during Christmas holidays I left some in Paris, but still it wasn’t enough. I needed to spread many more cards around in order to receive cards back. That’s when I made a decision to include others in my project. Everyone travels around the world and goes to amazing places that I will never have the chance to go to. They became my eyes. I decided to send pre-written postcards through them, with instructions: they had to leave the card in significant places, photograph the cards in these spots, tell me why these places where relevant to them, and send me these pictures. Now I had more stories to tell. The stories of those people that traveled and wished to share those intimate moments and the stories of those found postcards that were replied and both of them took time and required patience on my part. I had to wait for replies. And so the project grew and visited almost all continents. I dream of the day when I will be able to take one of my postcards to Iceland, The Sahara and Thailand myself - places I want to go.

I believe we, as a species, have created multiple realities to live in. We relate to each other and construct our own notions of individuality, personality, and autonomy within these different realities. We have not even noticed how deep down the rabbit hole we are, how late it is to go back and take the other pill - the reality pill - because our reality is so mixed up with this networked pseudo persona, life, and space we allowed ourselves to be sucked into by the advances of technology and the establishment of the world wide web connected realm. The medium is the message and we have missed the memo. Now we are bound to undeletable images of ourselves, codes that reveal forgotten conversations that were never really erased by the system - we are stuck to a digital trail or as you might wish to call it, a digital memory. I don't believe man can stray away from his symbollic constructions and language associations. We have, even before the Rosetta Stone, communicated through symbols, acknowledging symbollic structures and strategies. I do not quite agree with the analysis proposed. Our own development of language is based on the relationship of symbollic realities.

What has at soon caught our eyes of The Forget Me Not Postcard Project is the way it probes the capability of a medium to offer constructed realites to whom we relate. When questioning about the disconnect between physical experience and the immateriality of the technological simulation of physicality, suggested by social media, you seem to suggest the necessity of going beyond symbolic strategies to examinate the relationship between reality and perception. Do you agree with this analysis? In particular, is in your opinion personal experience is absolutely indispensable as part of the creative process? Do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience?

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I do believe one must go beyond symbolic strategies to examine the relationship between reality and perception, but I believe that only through one's own repertoire of stories, symbols and myths is he able to truly connect to deep sensations and feelings and eventually be able to connect with one another. The beautiful last words uttered by the tragic hero Christopher McCandless, "happiness is only real when shared", in the movie and homonimous book "Into the wild" states more than simply a quote to guide a generation. It speaks about how we, as human beings, crave and need connection - we act in order to be seen.

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feelings into words and phrases and stories, so I have to admit a presence of these memories in my work.

Would we write to each other meaninglessly if there was no response? Would we create artwork if stranded in a desert island forever? I don't know if we would. I prefer to think of ourselves as social beings that need connection and need interaction.

This project is solely about reflecting about where we stand as individuals, our connections, how we relate to each other. It is about taking the time to answer a handwritten card, allowing time to act upon each other's lives, having the patience for a response to arrive. The postcard exchange questions the contemporary space-time status quo and offers a place for inward reflection for those writing me cards, for those that in their voyages have to choose a unique and significant place to abandon cards and be at the moment, and apparently, for myself.

We are a sum of our stories and our myths and our culture - we are a symbolical construct in context with our own time. I do question the need to reflect upon how each of us relate to one another within this fast, technological, hyper-stimuli and networked society we call contemporary world. But I don't think that personal experience can be cast aside, neither can the results of such experiences. These are crucial for every creative development, every creative process. There is no process if there is no path one chooses to travel by - even if when one reaches the fork in the road, be it the one less traveled by. Direct experience leads to error and failure, which lead to enhancement of skill and learning - this is the crucial basis for the creative process: enduring failure and adversity and learning through direct experience how to prevail.

This is a project where my responses are based on my actual feelings at the current moment when I sit down to reply each postcard. Questions are asked and I answer them openly. There is no space for a narrative construction here – it is what it is. I do not rewrite a card; I simply sit and reply to a postcard that I received, months after having sent a previous one. The narrative will only be built in due time, when I have a larger volume of responses to relate to and when connections are established through this slow-communication process I bound my project to. That is what I like about it, its uncertainty, how it takes time to evolve and how I have to remember what I said in a previous card and re-read the past stories to understand the whole story being created. I think this is a project about space and time and how it was then and a reflection on how we are willing to establish it nowadays.

In a certain sense, your successfull attempt to establish the true connections between people allows you to go beyond a mere interpretative aspect of the reality you refer to. As the late Franz West did in his installations, your approach seems to reveal unconventional aesthetics in the way you deconstruct and assemble memories in a collective imagery, to draw the viewer into a process of self-reflection. What is the role of memory in your process?

Rather than focusing on a process that deals with memory as one of its primary themes, I seek to establish a process where each individual has to access their perceptions and feelings, tackle the questionings and doubts and pains of their own inner self. Obviously, however, memories are the basis for the translation of such perceptions and

The impetuous way modern technology has nowadays came out on the top has caused a dramatic and sudden revolution around the idea of Art itself: while just few years ago it was a tactile materialization of an idea, we are today urged to rethink about the intimate aspect of the materiality of an

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artwork itself. When inviting us to a reflection of the consequences of pervasive media, you seem to highlight a subtle dichotomy between traditional art and new media: so we would take this occasion to ask your point about the relationship between Art and Technology. Do your think that Art and new media could assimilate one to each other?

This vast array of opportunities for new media art is, indeed, very exciting and stimulating. For artists, curators and the spectator, of course. The new techniques that are emerging due to new materials that are being created since Nano-technological and biotechnological advances are affecting everything! It is appalling and incredible! But one can't deny the fact that the gap between new media and traditional art is widening - a real dichotomy.

When I was studying filmmaking in college I came across a very interesting professor that spoke about the need to reflect upon the contemporary viewer and his inability to see. I remember I devoured his thesis paper in a week and was knocked over by his ideas of how we are blinded by the excessive light and stimuli of culture due to the multiple images and ever-growing repertoire of imagery around us. The idea of being hyper stimulated by the contemporary surroundings stuck to me. I have no doubt that the roots of The Forget Me Not Postcards Project lies in these first associations.

First of all, I think it is of utter relevance to point out that I believe in art as a form of expression of concepts through due processes. Having said that, I believe that technology is able to translate and express concepts. Value judgments regarding the means chosen for an artwork or another can only be discussed in order to assess the concept and coherence of the artwork itself - so I do not think that digital new media is superior or inferior to traditional art, that is irrelevant. Trust me, I am not an activist or militant for the traditional art forms. I do, however, believe in being conscious of one's choices always - whether in art or how we conduct our life choices.

Technology and its mediums have extended its tentacles pervasively nowadays. It is pervasive and invasive, but not necessarily noxious. When Walter Benjamin, back in 1936, wrote “The Work of Art in The Age of Mechanical Reproduction” and addressed the loss of the “aura” of the artwork he was reflecting upon similar issues that where troubling the creative minds who found themselves bowled over by Gutenberg’s press.

Each artwork requests a technique, material and process that make sense solely for that piece. One cannot force together puzzle pieces that do not fit - it will spoil the whole puzzle image. The same thing happens here. Let's think back to the contemporary hyperstimuli blindness issue I was mentioning before: artists nowadays are dazzled by technology and its possibilities. Sometimes, maybe many times even, concepts and inner artwork demands are being neglected at the expense of the desire to introduce the use of technology into a particular work. This is creating artworks that are devoid of substance. But let me be less rigid, for many artists are experimenting, testing these new

I find myself deeply drawn to and repelled by technology. I am an avid reader of technology websites, following up and keeping myself up to date with innovations regarding artificial intelligence, smart cities, the Internet of Things and human enhancement. I believe there is a very new place for artists to explore the new realm of possibilities that technology has provided.

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Hirschhorn and Michael Light, use to include socio-political criticism and sometimes even explicit messages in their works, that often goes beyond a mere descriptive point of view on the issues they face: do you consider that your works are political in this way or do you seek to maintain a neutral approach? In particular, what cold be in your opinion the role of an artist in the unstable contemporary societies?

technologies and having fun - and that is perfectly fine. I see the current moment as that first moment when a baby is exploring and learning the world through its mouth, you know? Our society and our artists are learning how to code, how to deal with technology that enhance their capabilities, we are testing the limits of this knowledge and questioning it. I am not sure if traditional art will be set-aside on that account, but I don't believe it will. New media is one thing and it will always exist and so will traditional art forms. The mixture between both will produce a very rich moment in the near future for the arts - or at least I hope.

Well, every work is political. Every action is a political action. My presence wearing black at or white at a certain place is a political attitude. The Forget Me Not Postcard Project is definitely a political one. It intends to provoke and to evoke thoughts on contemporary communications, relationships, technology, what binds us as human beings, memory, networked societies, all of that and many other interpretations that are messages embedded in my work – waiting to be uncovered.

The Forget Me Not Postcard Project offers to the viewer a key to find personal interpretations to the concepts you communicate through your works: this quality marks out your production in which, rather that a conceptual interiority, reveals the desire to enabling us to establish direct relations... Would you say that it's more of an intuitive or a systematic process?

In my opinion, artists have the liberty to be the freest beings. They suffer the turmoil and carry the weight of their sensibility and talent, but they transit within the many layers of society. And it is this ability to move within and through freely, to express themselves through many techniques, and the capacity they naturally have to be observant, sensitive antennas to the context around them that binds them to political responsibility to engage in change or become catalysts of change and reflection. I am not the first to say this, nor will I be the last. The artist has a political duty. I even think that the artist should fill in the void of the lost ethos and become at least a mirror that reflects the contemporary troubles through his or her artwork, actions or speech.

I'd say systematic, but the word does not seem to be a perfect fit. There is space for the viewer to build upon works by relying on their own repertoire of experiences, feelings and intuitive perceptions. But I have a concrete process of creating concepts and developing them into works. There are concrete interpretations and meanings that I picture and associate to each project or work - but words fly in the wind after they are spoken. The same happens after a work is created and finds a place for itself in the world. Interpretations will occur, be it systematically or intuitively, and I will not have control over them. It's clear that you draw a lot from the reality you inhabit: many interesting contemporary artists, as Thomas

Your approach is intrinsically connected to the chance of creating an area of

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intellectual interplay with the viewers, so, before taking leave from this interesting conversation I would like to pose a a question about the nature of the relation with your audience: in particular, do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decision-making process in terms of what type of language for a particular context?

your future projects? How do you see your work evolving?

Thank you for the opportunity! The Forget Me Not is actually an ongoing project and a three-part project, so I definitely see its evolution in time. I have not begun the other two parts, but they already have been sketched out and I am reflecting on the best ways to execute my ideas.

I don’t create for my audience. I create because I need to express one thing and another, and if there is an audience that is interested in my work I am very much satisfied. I cannot depend on the judgments and needs of my audience, and I learned this early on with the famous story of “The old man, the boy and the donkey” – basically you cannot please everyone, so the artist must please himself and work within the needs of each artwork.

I am interested by the fact that these postcards travel back and forth going to places I have never been to in most cases. I believe that there is a second and third stage of this project where I will have to track their motion and voyage around the world, but I face some inner artwork ethical decision-making challenges regarding the introduction of technology as a solution. As I said before I try to keep my work as coherent as possible, so I have to look for solutions that will fit the concept, techniques and processes I restricted myself to at the beginning of each project.

The decision-making process in a project relates solely to the concept. The concept of a project or artwork is what guides each decision. Sometimes I feel that the artwork is making its own decisions and I merely execute its needs.

Other than that, I am developing a project based on Gaston Bachelard’s “Poetics of Space” that will also require spectator interaction. This is a new artwork project that I am very excited about. I believe that I am evolving from collage into more interactive and sculptural art investigations.

The type of language is not premeditatedly adapted from one context to another. This is an ongoing and conversational artwork that demands interaction, time and the development of a trust relationship. You cannot fake that. Either it happens or not, either one falls in love with you or not, either you are hungry for it or not! I try to be as honest and transparent as I possibly can. Each postcard brings forth new questions, a new conversation, themes, and tones. Language is inherent to the process, but it’s my own language dealing with another person’s own language. You can’t build that in narrative.

An interview by Josh Ryder, curator and Barbara Scott, curator arthabens@mail.com

Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Anna. Finally, would you like to tell our readers something about

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Toban Nichols Nichols Like most things created by humans, computers often break-down while doing the work they were programed to do. I exploit these weaknesses, using the flaws as the genesis of my art. Through “databending” (forced errors or subverted “natural” function), I wrestle control away from the computer that results in unique digital output. The investigation of this distortion produces a self-reflexive understanding of digital technology that appropriates the semiotic nature of visual language. These images are then manipulated into a photographic or video medium. The final pictures attempt to destroy and reconstruct cultural significance and raise questions about the mediation of art vis-a-vis technology. Moreover, the forced glitches create a simple aesthetic that is rich in color and texture. Stripes become convoluted and intermixed; light and dark turn and twist into each other creating a dramatically chaotic architecture. Unique formal qualities of texture, light and motion are formed; and, contrast and flow growing more evident. Furthermore, pulsing, glowing light and patterns suggest movement and exploded and degraded pixels mutate into inorganic shapes. The data of this process is recorded to construct a digital terrain that striving to familiarize the now unfamiliar. Toban Nichols

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An interview with An interview by Josh Ryder, curator and Melissa C. Hilborn, curator arthabens@mail.com

Toban Nichols is a versatile artist whose practice ranges from video to photography and objects: the cross disciplinary nature of his approach leads him to conceive works that reject any conventional classification, to investigate about the semiotic nature of visual language. In his recent body of works entitled Dendroid that we'll be pleased to discuss in the folowing pages, he accomplishes the difficult task to subvert the viewers' perceptual parameters in order to force the level of significance of elements from the univeral imagery as environment and landscape. One of the most convincing aspects of Nichols' work is the way he manipulates images and the concept they convey to create an unconventional aesthetic from experience and imagination: we are very pleased to introduce our readers to hisr refined artistic production. Hello Toban, and a warm welcome to ART Habens. We would start this interview posing you some questions about your rich background: after earning a Bachelors degree in Painting, you nurtured your education in the field of New Media at the San Francisco Art Institute in California where you eventually received a MFA in New Genres. How have these experiences informed your evolution as an artist? In particular, how has the convergence between formal training and your cultural substratum informs the way you conceive and relate yourself to the aesthetic problem?

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was. As a student you are given a set of rules for studio practice and for getting through college, getting your work done, making time for things outside of your studio practice, etc. Since that time, I’ve enjoyed the constraints of rules and found that following them created an environment where I could be creative but also fastidious. In my practice today, I still follow a set of rules that have morphed from my student days. I find rules to be very satisfying, at least for myself. I’m not really interested in forcing rules on other people. Establishing guidelines for making work gives me stability in the process and a place to begin. An example of guidelines would be: be-

In day-to-day life, I rely on being very organized and thrive on creating and following rules. I make one or two lists of things I need to get done every day. It’s ritualistic I suppose. Though I think I get the propensity from my Mother, who has always been very systematic, something I thought was normal when I lived at home and when I went off to college realized was not how every Mother

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fore beginning a project I decide a status the project will have in the larger scheme of things. What definitions the work creates or lives by and where it will live in relation to my body of work and what it represents overall. I make those sorts of preliminary decisions then dive into the project. My process has a lot to do with experimentation and decision making, probably like a lot of other artists. But I tend to think of it all like a sort of laboratory or research library. That’s my approach to making art. Your practice ranges from a wide variety of media, involving video, objects and photography: we would like to invite our readers to visit http://tobannichols.com in order to get a wider idea of the cross disciplinary nature of your artistic production. The unconventional kind of symbiosis between different disciplines that marks out your approach provides your works of dynamism and autonomous life. While superimposing concepts from opposite techniques have you ever happened to realize such synergy is the only way to express the ideas you explore?

I do think these things are symbiotic and synergistic, at least to my work, but I don’t think of them as separate genres. Photography and video are the same to me, and the making of objects and the installation of them all live in the same world of art. I don’t make those sorts of distinctions. Though, I have been experimenting with painting for the last few months. I used to be a painter and back then, if you’d have asked me this question I know I would’ve answered it completely differently. But for me, now, they are all part of the same way of making work. I would challenge any artist with that same question about their own work. I think it speaks to the inner clock-workings of the artistic mind. For this special issue of ART Habens we have selected Dendroid, a stimulating body of work that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory

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pages of this article. As you have explained once, the initial source of inspiration for this project was the California landscape: what has at once caught our attention of your re-interpretation of the traditional ideas of natural beauty is the way it accomplishes the difficult task of condensing opposite ideas into a coherent unity: when walking our readers through the genesis of Dendroid, would you shed a light about the role of landscape on a conceptual aspect?

I have a keen interest in the beauty of nature and movement of wind and water. I have been obsessed with water, motion, and nature for almost a decade now. I’m endlessly fascinated by trees and wandering through nature letting the mind wander as well. And as anyone who knows me will attest, I am completely obsessed with water and being immersed in it. I have a dream of building a house with water flowing through its halls, living in the water. It’s a silly idea, but I’ve got it mapped out pretty well in my head. Kind of on the other side of that coin, I’m also drawn to ideas of deconstructing technology, manipulating technology to the point of breaking. A term that gets thrown around a lot now is “glitch”. I’ve allowed myself to be lumped in with glitch and databending because it’s definitely connected to what I do and the definitions of glitch do fit my aesthetic, but I’m not sure I’m actually considered a member of the glitch club. Anyway, running the traditional landscape through my glitch process repeatedly is the type of experimentation that is key to making my work. It’s not just about the landscape, it’s about the two meeting each other, co mingling to become this beautiful output. I shoot photos in locations that inspire me and then I bring them into the computer and start deconstructing them, taking things apart and putting them back together sort of like Dr. Frankenstein did with his monster. Yeah, I’ll own that, I’m like Dr. Frankenstein… sort of.

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Dendroid us has impressed us also for its successful attempt to go beyond a mere interpretative aspect of the reality you refer to, and this is a recurrent feature of your work that we can recognize in Non-clonal Ecotone as well. As the late Franz West did in his installations, this work seems to reveal unconventional aesthetics in the way you deconstruct and assemble memories, recontextualizing them to challenge their role into our collective imagery, to draw the viewer into a process of self-reflection. What is the role of memory in your approach?

I am not interested in inserting memories into my work. They play only a tangential part in creating the work. When ideas strike, I pounce and run with it. I get going on an idea as fast as possible, I don’t waste time connecting memories or putting much thought into the past, only how it pertains to my research. I don’t think it’s crucial for memory to play a part in my work. I think audience members viewing any kind of art take it upon themselves to relate to it or not. That’s their job as a viewer; it’s not my job to provoke them. Like the way a great song manipulates the emotions of the listener, I’m not really looking to do that to people. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly want the viewer to be moved by my work. And I suppose I sometimes subliminally make choices that will make the art more appealing in some cases, but really it’s up to the viewer to love or hate. People today are so insanely opinionated, they really don’t need my help. The way your approach invites the viewers to tread the elusive, fine line that forks between pain and pleasure hints the necessity of going beyond any symbolic strategy to examinate the relationship between a variety of states of mind: it rather constructs a concrete aesthetic from experience and memories. and works on both subconscious and conscious level. So we would take this occasion to ask you if in your opinion, personal experience is absolutely indispensable as part of the

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creative process? Do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience?

Yes, personal experience is part of my creative process. It’s probably most of it, to be honest. And yes, I think people have to disconnect themselves from certain topics in order to be unbiased. I don’t feel that this is something that needs to be part of my work; I’m not very interested in inserting politics or broad statements into my work. And unfortunately I find politically motivated art to be pretty boring most times. I can’t get into it. I try to understand the statements of the work but it’s not really my thing. I need to be wholly invested in the idea and interested in the process and the outcome or I get bored. I get bored very easily so an idea needs to remain engaging to me or what’s the point? There are lots of ideas I’ve had that I start to explore that become tiresome, uninteresting and I set them aside hoping to come back to them later. Another stimulating work from your multifaceted artistic production that has particularly impacted on us and on which we would be pleased to spend some words is entitled PRODUCTION & DECAY OF STRANGE PARTICLES, and that differs quite a lot from your usual approach: in particular, your exploration of the physicality of the body allows you to go beyond the intrinsic ephemeral nature of the gestures you captured and suggests us a reflection about the notion of time. Addressing us into the liminal area in which performative dance and conceptual videomaking blends together into a consistent unity, you seem to invite us to enabling us to establish direct relations... Would you say that it's more of an intuitive or a systematic process? And in particular, what is the creative role that chance plays in your approach?

I’m surprised to hear you say that it differs from my usual approach. I’ve never thought of that before. I see that particular body of

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work as connected to everything else I do. The ideas are the same; maybe the rules are a little different. Hmmm, you’ve really given me something to think about! I wouldn’t say the work is necessarily dealing with notions of time. Maybe with freezing time. For me, it’s about building shapes out of the human form. That’s why I worked mostly with dancers or acrobats, though some of my friends are very bendy! They really held their own against the dancers. I think the process is both intuitive and systematic. Everything I do is systematic. I create the systems and work inside them. This particular body of work is more collaborative and in that way it is intuitive because I’m working with someone I don’t know very well and have asked them to bring articles of their own clothing to wear and to come up with their own poses with little interaction or discussion from me beforehand. We discuss what I want them to do when they arrive at the photo shoot, but I give them very little direction during the shoot. Chance plays an important role in this body of work because I’m relinquishing control to the collaborative process and sharing it with someone else. I don’t exert control over the poses the model creates except to have them hold a pose a little longer or give them encouragement. For PRODUCTION & DECAY OF STRANGE PARTICLES you collaborated with models who actively played in the making of the piece: they could personally what to wear and their choice had an intrinsic creative role. It's no doubt that collaboration today is an ever growing force in Contemporary Art and that the most exciting things happen when creative minds from different fields of practice meet and collaborate on a project... could you tell us something about this effective synergy? By the way, Peter Tabor once stated that "collaboration is working together with another to create something as a synthesis of different practices, that alone one could not": what's your point about this? Can you explain how

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your work demonstrates communication between several creative minds?

I found this particular project to be really fun as a collaboration. That’s because I didn’t worry as much or control the situation. In my other work, collaboration is usually included in the process as well. But, it’s more of a behind the scenes collaboration where I’m the one calling the shots and making decisions. The other people aren’t as actively involved in the outcome, but more like bit players. Someone who can cast aluminum, for instance. I don’t know how to do that so I had to find someone to collaborate with. That person’s work is not directly noted in the final product, unlike Production and Decay. Since the models are in the photos and part of the process I felt less pressure in the entire process and actually had a lot more fun. I’m definitely open to collaborating with other people after that project. It was fantastic. I don’t agree with Peter Tabor’s statement. I think its bullshit. The creative mind can always come up with ways to do what the artist wants or needs. Finding collaborators to help you is great, but it’s not always necessary to the success of a project. People adapt to what they have, the project can grow or shrink according to the surroundings. Production and Decay was not about several creative minds. I had the idea and invited others to play in that sandbox, I certainly didn’t ask them to come up with ideas other than the poses and the clothes. The initial photos are only a small part of the product. It’s about 2 minds at a time, though ultimately, it’s about my vision, my ideas, my path we follow. I’m taking the photos and combining them how I want, not asking the models’ opinion on the final outcome. Their contribution is immense but also small in comparison to the overall project. Your work is particularly concerned with new media and you often digitally manipulate your images to force their

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aesthetic values. The impetuous way modern technology has nowadays came out on the top has dramatically revolutionized the idea of Art itself: in a certain sense, we are forced to rethink about the intimate aspect of the materiality of an artwork itself, since just few years ago it was a tactile materialization of an idea. I'm sort of convinced that new media will definitely fill the apparent dichotomy between art and technology and we will dare to say that Art and Technology are going to assimilate one to each other... what's your point about this?

My work definitely deals a lot with the manipulation of digital media, but I don’t think it’s a matter of art and technology assimilating each other. Technology has always played a role in art for its entire existence. The person that created gesso for painting is a technologist. Even artists working with traditional media utilize technology in their process. As I answer these questions I’m standing next to a digital projector in my friend Laura Ricci’s painting studio. New media is very simply another form of art making. At one time photography was seen as folly, as a non-art form. I don’t think anyone would say that now. I remember being drawn away from painting in the late 90’s, I didn’t know what I was being drawn to, and I could only see ideas in my head. Then I discovered digital processes and that fit perfectly with what I had been imagining. Like other forms of art, digital processes emerged from the ether, fully formed and ready to change the world…but all art forms have done that. Your work is strictly connected to the chance of establishing a direct involvement with the viewers, who are called to evolve from a mere spectatorship to conscious participants on an intellectual level, so before leaving this conversation I would like to pose a question about the nature of the relationship of your art with your audience. Do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decision-making process, in terms of

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ART Habens

Toban Nichols

what type of language is used in a particular context?

was so happy, even though one of the rules of the project was not to talk about it. It still makes me nervous to talk about but here goes… The project lives completely on Instagram and is only accessible if you search the right hashtags. There are only three of them.

I think in the back of my head about the people who will look at my work out in the world. But it’s not a part of my decision-making process. I’m mostly unconcerned about what people will think about my work. I mean, I want it to be good and to have value as art, those things are subjective though. But I would argue every artist wants their work to be seen and is interested in the audience’s reaction and feedback. I don’t create work with the intention of the audience in mind. That is more of a designer’s job, appealing to an audience, entertaining and tricking with flair. That’s not me.

The project is about the self-portrait, or more accurately for the times, the #selfie. In fact, that’s one way to find the project, search the hashtag #selfie. You’ll see that’s a pretty daunting task. There are over 300 million selfies on Instagram, it’s ridiculous. You can also find it by the tag #art. There are a few less #art tags on Instagram, also pretty ridiculous. The project is meant to comment on the tradition of the self-portrait in art and how it’s subverted now by every person on earth taking photos of them constantly. It’s insane! I was trained as a painter to paint self-portraits as a way to learn about painting and light, a way to learn about you. Selfies now are only for looking at your physical beauty, a new profile photo to show your friends. I certainly find myself seduced by that from time to time. I catch myself staring all the time…at myself. It’s rather gross.

Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Toban. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects. How do you see your work evolving?

I really couldn’t tell you how my work will evolve, I have no idea. There is no way to know what’s to come. I get ideas and follow them. Or, the idea isn’t strong enough or in my research I become disinterested and drop the project. I have a long line of dropped projects, ideas that never came to bear fruit. And quite a few I think could live on and have a life yet.

The last museum I was in, a group of teenage girls made their way around the gallery just taking selfies in front of the art, it was disgusting, it made me angry. Anyway, the new project kind of comments on a lot of those ideas from the past and how they’ve been changed by present trends. I find it interesting and probably anyone my age and older would too. Though lots of people comment on my project on Instagram, many of them young, I’m not sure if they really know what I’m up to, and the profile doesn’t mention what the photos are about, it’s mysterious. Anyone can find the project really quickly by searching for the profile name, it’s essentia_aeternum. That’s the name of the project. Give it a look, I’d love to hear what the readers think. Now that it’s all out in the open, I love discussing the project.

I’ve taken a bit of a break this year, 2015 after showing a lot last year and making a lot of work. I felt burned out by January. I do have a not-so-secret project I started back in spring of this year that I didn’t tell anyone about until very recently. I didn’t share with my friends or other artists what I was doing. It lived online, in secret, to be discovered by anyone who might wander by. I didn’t talk about it when someone asked what I was up to. I just let it sit there, for months, sitting waiting. Always adding to it always evolving, just waiting for someone to notice. A lot of people did discover it but no one I knew for a long time. Once someone I knew found out, I

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Charles Ligocky

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Christian Bøen

Christian Bøen

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Christian Bøen

ART Habens

video, 2013

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Christian Bøen

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Christian Bøen

An interview with An interview by Dario Rutigliano, curator and Melissa C. Hilborn, curator arthabens@mail.com

Exploring the creative potential of digital arts in a wide variety of aspects, Norwegian artist Christian Bøen produces stimulating works that draws from the liminal area in which science and popular culture find an unexpected point of convergence: his project Exitium that we'll be discussing in the following pages, provides the viewers of a multilayered experience that accomplishes the difficult task of creating a coherent and autonomous multisensorial unity. Probing the viewers' capability to understand unexpected relations between the concepts he conveys in his works, Bøen's process reveals a mature understanding of the instability of contemporary age and one of the most convincing mark of his work is the way he goes beyond any artificial dichotomy between universal imagery and contemporariness. We are very pleased to introduce our readers to his unconventional and multifaceted artistic production.

Christian Bøen

Hello Christian and welcome to ART Habens: we would start this interview, posing you a couple of questions about your background. You have a solid formal training and you degreed from the Art Academy in Bergen about twelve years ago: how has this experience influenced your evolution as an artist? In particular, how does the relationship between training and your cultural substratum informs the way you relate yourself to art making?

I discovered early that art was a gathering place and a playground for every media and for everything I wanted to work with. I got a special opportunity at the age of twelve when I was invited to join video and animation workshops, held by international lecturers at the University College nearby. Shortly after I started experimenting with video and electronic music and at the time I thought of studying film or animation. But that was before I found art.

The Art Academy in Bergen influenced me in numerous ways. When I started at the Academy in 1999 I was only 20 years old. I came from a small town on the west-coast of Norway where the thought of becoming an artist, or choosing any creative profession at all, was seen as quite far-off. Art was something weird and unknown.

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A new and exciting world opened up as I entered the Art Academy. Socially by meeting a lot of unconventional and interesting people, and professionally by being challenged by the professors, pioneers within their field, innovative, demanding, tearing you down and building you up, forcing you to think in new perspectives, working with new techniques, media, and expression, getting a completely new understanding of art and what it is and can be. At the time everything was overwhelming. I would suggest our readers to visit http://www.termodress.com, in order to get a wider idea of your artistic production: your approach is strongly multidisciplinary; both in terms of formal aspect and as regards the way you combine a variety of materials to pursue the kaleidoscopic nature that marks your works. While superimposing such a wide variety of materials and crossing the borders of different artistic fields, have you ever happened to realize that such unconventional symbiosis between different techniques is the only way to achieve some results, to express specific concepts?

Great results can be achieved in many ways. Mixing, merging and combining techniques and genres generate almost unlimited possibilities and opens up new perspectives. Exploiting the possibilities that lie in each genre and technique is how I work with all my projects. For this special issue of ART Habens we have selected APIDAE, an experimental short video that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article and that can be viewed at http://www.termodress.com/Video/Apidae_2 015.mp4. What has at soon caught our eyes of this stimulating work is the way your

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investigation about the relationship between perception and collective imagery accomplishes the difficult task of unveiling the subtle but ubiquitous relation between personal dimension and collective sphere, creating an autonomous and compelling

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aesthetics. Do you conceive it on an instinctive way or do you rather structure your process in order to reach the right balance?

structured. I start my projects by doing a lot of research and gather as much information as I can, almost like a scientist. In the editing process I look for structures and patterns. During this phase where the

The initial part of the process is very

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ART Habens

Christian Bøen

project develops and takes its form my decisions are made rather instinctively.

wanted to contribute in drawing attention to the fact that bumblebees are dying. In a few years we may not see any at all.

In APIDAE, I recovered data from a destroyed and disrupted mp4 file of a bumblebee that I observed last summer. I

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It’s important to mention that APIDAE is a

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Christian Bøen

ART Habens

between external reality and human perceptual process questions the concept of direct experience: in particular, your investigation about the intimate consequences of constructed realities gives a permanence that goes beyond the ephemeral nature of the concepts you capture. So I would take this occasion to ask you if in your opinion personal experience is an absolutely indispensable part of a creative process... Do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience?

For me the answer would be no. My creative process is much connected to direct experience. Even though, I always try to free myself in the process while working with new ideas, gaining new experience and carrying out my research. You are also a prolific musician and over these years you have released six electronic albums. Sound plays a crucial role in APIDAE as well as in many other of your works and we find really exciting the way you created a coherent combination between electronic music and references to accessible melodic and rhythmic patterns, that induce the viewers to elaborate personal associations, recontextualizing the relationship between the cinematic images and sound, which in your pieces never plays as a mere background. How do you conceive this aspect of you works?

Having control of both audio and visual is a great advantage and gives me a lot of freedom. In some projects, like in APIDAE, I worked with the two expressions in parallel. Quite often experimenting with sound and music generates new ideas when I work with visual projects. It may also be helpful if I’m not satisfied with the progress.

part of the Exitium, an experimental glitch art project consisting of destroyed files of photos and videos: we have been impressed with the way your process of deconstruction and recontextualization urges us to explore the liminal area

Another interesting series of yours that has particularly impacted on us and on which we'would like to spend some words is entitled Høyspent / High Voltage: as you

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Christian Bøen

the apparent dichotomy between art and technology and seemingly Art and Technology are going to assimilate one to each other... what's your point about this?

have remarked once, this project started as an fascination for high voltage pylons. The impetuous way modern technology has nowadays came out on the top has dramatically revolutionized the idea of Art itself: in a certain sense, we are forced to rethink about the intimate aspect of constructed realities and especially about the materiality of an artwork itself, since just few years ago it was a tactile materialization of an idea. I'm sort of convinced that new media will definitely fill

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There are many areas where art and technology have already assimilated. For a long time technology has offered artists new ways of expressing themselves. And as a tool it is being more intertwined than ever before.

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Christian Bøen

ART Habens

Exitium seems to reject an explicit explanatory strategy: rather, you seem to offer to the viewer a key to find personal interpretations to the concepts you communicate through your works. When you conceived Exitium did you try to achieve a faithful visual translation of your motional state or do you rather prefer to maintain a neutral approach?

In Exitium I maintained a neutral and scientific approach. During the experiments I did not have any control over the millions of digital errors that occurred. So when destroying and hacking my own art I utilized a technical method more than an emotional state. However I had a faithful visual approach for the results when selecting the interesting pieces. Exitium also offers an opportunity to rethink about ever growing informationfocused techno-sphere and what actually could be hidden between an apparently ubiquitous determinism. In particular, you seem to highlight the creative potential of aleatory process in the construction of meaning. While walking our readers in performative aspect of this work, would you like to shed a light about the role of randomness in your approach in general? In particular, do you think that chance could play a creative role?

In general my approach is very structured, but in Exitium chance played a role in the creative process. Each experiment was logged and I had only one chance to destroy or hack an art piece. If I didn’t succeed, in the meaning of making a glitched art piece into something that could be opened or read by the computer, the experiment had failed and I had to move on to a another piece of art. The results were entirely unpredictable.

In my own artistic work I rely upon technology, both in production, presenting and interaction. I have a general interest in technology and science which is where my unconscious fascination for high voltage pylons may have started. The pylons have made huge impact on nature, but they are also remarkable and towering hi-tech objects in the landscape.

And we couldn't do without mentioning Another interesting project of yours that has particularly impacted on me and on

While exhibiting a captivating vibrancy

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ART Habens

Christian Bøen

which I would like to spend some words is entitled Under Construction: its ambience has reminded us the concept of Heterotopia elaborated by Michel Foucault. By bringing a new level of significance to

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signs, this work challenges the common way we question the dichotomy between our perceptual processes and the outside reality... By the way, we are sort of convinced that some information and ideas

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Christian Bøen

ART Habens

our inner Nature... what's your opinion about this?

Under Construction was a long lasting project which started already before the Art Academy. It was an early reflection. What caught my interest were the lines and geometry in landscapes and cities in progress. My role as an artist is to add new perspectives, questions and even be provocative. If we could sum up in a single adjective the feature the experience you provide your spectatorship of we'd choose for sure the word "multilayered": your approach goes beyond any barrier between the viewers and the ideas you explore, highlighting your effective communication strategy. Over these years your works have been exhibited in several occasions: so, before taking leave from this interesting conversation I would like to pose a a question about the nature of the relation with your audience: in particular, do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decision-making process in terms of what type of language for a particular context?

As a perfectionist in both music and art I always have the audience in mind. But I don’t let them influence the decisions I make in my projects. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Christian. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects?

I have several ideas for future projects. I will work further with Exitium and continue experimenting with electronic music and produce more albums.

are hidden, or even "encrypted" in the environment we live in, so we need -in a way- to decipher them. Maybe that one of the roles of an artist could be to reveal unexpected sides of Nature, especially of

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ART Habens Art Review // Special Issue  
ART Habens Art Review // Special Issue  
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