From Poland With Love #3: Mi$ Gogo and Tikul, aka Pussykrew
Among the many awaiting a robotic paradise in the near-after, the Polish art team Pussykrew seem particularly enthusiastic. The prolific duo of Ewelina Aleksandrowicz and Andrzej Wojtas — hailing from opposite ends of western Poland, Świnoujście in the north and Mysłakowice in the south, respectively –have managed to touch on almost quadrant of digital art with their work together, from music and video performances, to CGI installations and 3D printed sculpture. They’ve been exhibited in galleries all over the world and received commissions from bands and labels like HTRK, Black Cracker, Actress, Warp Records, PC Music, and many more. Their work blurs the boundaries of the human body and explores gender, transhumanism and the uniquely open creative possibilities presented by the evolution of technology. Travelling between Europe, America and Asia, the two constantly seek after varied environments. At the beginning of their ongoing residency in Shanghai, Pussykrew spoke to us about method and inspiration, freedom of expression, and shared a bit of their history — explaining why they can’t wait to become cyborgs, and have skewed toward Asia, in the process.
How would you describe yourself to someone who has never heard of Pussykrew?
Ewelina “Tikul” Aleksandrowicz: It’s difficult to answer this question. Before 2008 we had the “old Pussykrew” and some people associate us with our activity back then, which was quite different. We were mainly presenting our works in the club environment, creating live visuals and short cinematic forms. Our works are usually centered around art and technology and how they relate to each other — interdisciplinary projects, like blending CGI, gaming environments, video art, 3D printing and scanning, etc. We never intended to limit ourselves to just one area — like the music industry, because we’re interested in a wide range of things and work methods. In Poland we used to be known mostly for our live visuals at Unsound Festival. Only a few people knew that we were also presenting work at international galleries, creating our own music instruments and art installations, yet we never presented them in Poland.
Andrzej “Mi$ Gogo” Wojtas: We formed Pussykrew in 2004 and played at Unsound for the first time in 2006. I met Tikul in 2008 in Dublin, Ireland and we started to collaborate. In 2009 we moved to Newcastle to complete our Masters in Digital Media, wanting to learn new tools. I think one of our breakthrough moments was in 2010 — back then we did live visuals for Actress at Unsound and later in 2011 a collaboration with HTRK and a video installation with Raime which was also exhibited at Unsound. In early 2012 we made our video for Leila from Warp Records.
Ewelina: When it comes to the perception of us and our work it didn’t change much over the years. We still focus on corporeality, technology, urban environments, the body and the concept of gender fluidity. Naturally the tools have changed as we gain access to new options.
Your last video for Black Cracker shows some of your biological inspiration, the video resembling a futurist variation on Alina Szapocznikow’s sculptures. Other works experimented with classic video art, then macro CGI and corporate aesthetics, though you’ve recently returned to transhumanism. Can you talk a little about that turn?
Andrzej: I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of body transformation. As a teenager, I was a fan of movies like Videodrome, eXistenZ, The Lawnmower Man, or Tetsuo… I thought about David Cronenberg a lot… I was like fifteen, around that age. We still love films and watch many as we work on new projects.
Ewelina: We definitely take a lot of inspiration from the 90’s — like Chris Cunningham, Japanese cyber punk, noise… It must have influenced us on a subconscious level – – all these fascinations from our youth, like Cronenberg, I guess it’s visible in our current works. But our adventure with 3D graphics and body deformation started around 2010, back then we made the work “Deep Horizon” — a fusion of simulation and video material.
In 2012 we moved to Berlin and started working with CGI visuals containing liquid shapes and deformed bodies — this was for Berlin Music Week. We used similar ideas for our first large format 3D rendered installation — a mapping project on the facade of Platoon Kunsthalle. We used to work with video but felt that medium didn’t give us that many possibilities – for which you need a huge budget and special effects. 3D graphics provide us with a much wider array of possibilities.
Andrzej: In the beginning, when we did a lot of VJ-ing and worked on our first audio-visual performances, we used a lot of analog technology, analog mixers. Later we started blending analog and digital methods as with “Domestic Violence” where analog glitches met digital data-moshing. Since 2012 we’ve reduced our tools to a laptop which has allowed us to become more mobile. We even got rid of a desktop computer!
In our visuals for HTRK we were using props, such as plastic masks, dead squids and bondage accessories, and although this was still a video — not CGI yet — we already embraced our fascination with the body and how it can be deconstructed or bent. When we work with a certain medium, we try to be critical towards it. The idea of liquid bodies stemmed from looking at all the technology we have at our disposal from a slightly different perspective.
Ewelina: When I look at our early works and what we’re doing now in 3D, as with “Tide”, I see the connection and similarity between the two periods. It’s a continuation of what we’ve been doing, only the tools have changed. For “Tide” we scanned Black Cracker and his friends’ bodies in 3D. Every time we work with bodies, we try to deconstruct them and build new forms.
Andrzej: We really like the idea of augmented, mutant bodies.
Shanghai-based artist Kim Laughton explores similar themes, in the vein of hyper-realism. Laughton also has many links with the music scene — he created graphic visuals for labels including Lit City Trax, Night Slugs and PC Music. Your sculptures remind me of Jon Rafman and his surreal, colorful busts — also 3D printed. As so-called “internet artists,” do you keep in touch?
Ewelina: We all know each other and hang out online a lot. Sometimes we meet up IRL at different events and festivals — there is a whole community of so-called ‘3D’ or “internet artists” — whatever you choose to call them — whose works are based mostly on the internet, but they don’t limit themselves to the Web only and work on other platforms too. We often chat and share ideas. For me, each of us has their own distinctive style. Instead of simulating reality, we try to deconstruct it and find spaces in-between. The playful area between URL and IRL has been also explored in art a lot in the past few years.
I already told Kim that we are coming to Shanghai, we are excited to meet him and few other friends too. We met when some friends were visiting Berlin — like Vince McKelvie, who also makes really cool work. It’s funny as most of our collaborations in the last 5 years were initiated via different online channels, usually it’s a very inspiring, personal exchange. We think about the online and offline worlds as one blurred hybrid, although we are mostly present online and this remains our most natural environment.
Andrzej: We’ve been contacted and questioned by a lot of other young people just beginning their adventure with 3D graphics. We’ve got friends all over the world and discuss various topics but this often happens online. It’s not a competition but all these artists are in the know about others for sure. We meet IRL but we don’t differentiate between IRL and URL conversations. As for Jon Rafman, you may have found a connection because our sculptures are also somewhat inspired by classical sculptures or their modernist versions.
What inspires you most? Which platform do you use most often to share your new works and ideas? Do you use ArtStack, Behance or any other specialist sites?
Ewelina: It’s mostly Facebook. The majority of artists are on Facebook so we get a lot from it. Even some friends who are into deepweb are on Facebook [laughs]. We use Tumblr very often. We don’t really like Twitter, maybe because our activity is way more visual than textual. We often meet at exhibitions in real life and follow each other’s work online. There’s probably just several hundred people who engage in this kind of art. We don’t really have one key source of inspiration, or a bunch of favorite artists that we look upon, I guess most inspirations come from the Internet, random everyday stuff, contemporary art, B movies and pop-culture.
A few weeks ago you spent some time in Pittsburgh. You took part in the #NOWSEETHIS event at the Carnegie Museum of Art. Your task was to prepare visuals for Kelela’s show there. How was it?
Ewelina: Pittsburgh was a lot of fun. We did a short residency at the Golan Levin’s Studio for Creative Enquiry at Carnegie Mellon University. Over a few days we created visuals for Kelela’s performance. Our idea was to scan ancient and classical sculptures at the Carnegie Museum of Art and implement these 3D scans in our animation. We also gave a lecture at the Carnegie Mellon University with a 3D scanning session. VIA are the crew from Pittsburgh, they organized many music and audio-visual events there, great people to work with.
We started our adventure with 3D printing a year and a half ago, simply from a need to transform our 3D generated imagery into physical forms. There used to be a 3D printer at our university when we were studying, but at that time the material was quite expensive, so we never had a chance to use it. Now 3D printers are quite accessible, we felt like it’s a good time to explore. We had this idea of a perfect embodiment of a 3D rendered graphic, we wanted these objects to mimic the ‘organic-synthetic’ aesthetic present in our 3D works.
Andrzej: We created these sculptures on our own, using a consumer grade 3D printer — not an industrial one. We learned it from scratch, we polished and painted the sculptures ourselves, learning painting techniques by watching car tuning videos on YouTube. Everyone who saw our sculptures thought we used some state-of-the-art, advanced technology, like a very expensive printer. We were surprised that we could actually make something with our bare hands as we haven’t done anything like it for many years. The idea to make these sculptures came from the tangibility of our CGI work. It’s a natural continuation of our practice with 3D graphics. So we took some of these models directly from our digital animations and pushed them into the material world.
How did your collaboration with SEVDALIZA come about?
Ewelina: SEVDALIZA hit us up. That’s how it usually happens. She said she loves our stuff and she’d be happy if we did a video for her. At the time we were based in Brussels and she lived in Rotterdam, which is just two hours away by train. We skyped and met her afterwards. It was funny, when we started to chat about the video, we realized that both of us came up with the same vision. We wanted to scan her and later build a surreal world around her. It turned out she had the same thing in mind. She’s a very cool person and we made friends very fast.
It’s impressive how fast you’ve gained scope internationally… you participated twice in the Limited Access Festival in Iran, and just started a residency in Shanghai. We talked about this during CTM Festival in Berlin and back then you mentioned being a little tired of Berlin and Europe. Did your experiences in Asia and America change your attitude toward your own work?
Ewelina: We’ve been doing creative stuff for over a decade now, presenting our works internationally since 2008. It’s true though that we get involved in bigger projects and the number of gigs is constantly increasing. Regarding Berlin, I wouldn’t say Berliners are lazy, not all of them, (laughs) there are plenty of great vibrant creative communities in Berlin, yet the overall vibe is quite ‘laid-back.’ This is what makes the city perfect for holiday adventures (or never-ending holidays). For hyperactive workaholics like us, Berlin is probably a bit too slow and ‘too relaxed’. We still love it, it’s a great city and we’ve experienced many beautiful moments there, we are always happy to visit Berlin, but at the present moment let’s say Berlin doesn’t fulfill our personal needs. Berlin as a city and a vibrant cultural spot, had a strong influence on me in the 90s, when I was a teenager, I was visiting it since then. Now I feel like I need to look for other sources of inspiration, I want to interact with many other environments.
We tend to constantly search for different places and new challenging realities. It’s true that right now, we would rather find ourselves in places like NYC or Asia. We were looking for opportunities to finally get out of Europe for a while. Iran, for example, is truly mind-blowing. We have some good Iranian friends, they either live there or around Europe. Two years ago we had our first exhibition in Iran and met many interesting people, who were very warm and welcoming. It was a super positive experience and we knew instantaneously that we really wanted to go back. For us Iran was a really fascinating place. Most of all it’s way different than how it is perceived by Western people. For somebody who’s never been there and just knows Iran through the news in the mainstream media, it’s a true shock. Guess what – there are heaps of creative people, the art world is lively, there are great concerts and exhibitions — you know — we were really impressed by the art scene out there. Everyone was really excited that we’re presenting our works in Tehran because not so many creatives come to visit and also there’s not a lot of new media projects. For us the most important aspect was the interaction — so intense and real as nowhere else to be honest.
Andrzej: Yeah, but you should remember that it’s because you’re an outsider in Iran, that’s why it resonates so strongly — as you say — way more than in Europe or in general in the so-called Western culture.
Ewelina: People in Iran are very open and curious, it’s true that not all forms of artistic expression are accepted, there’s “Limited Access” to certain stuff — the festival’s name is quite adequate, yet this doesn’t mean that there’s no access, but from what we’ve seen, it is possible to transcend the limitations and find your own way in the existing conditions. Most of the people we’ve met studied abroad or traveled a lot, but some decided to come back to Iran, young people there live their lives just as we do and they don’t want to be perceived through the narrow image of a regressive, troubled country.
Andrzej: Art in Iran receives no support from the state whatsoever, artists don’t expect to receive any public funds. You can only receive funding from private sponsors. So for most of the industry in Iran, if you want to be an artist, you need to sell your art. That’s why most people focus on traditional media. For the more novel techniques there’s TADAEX — the Tehran Annual Digital Art Exhibition, there’s also a great space called Sazmanab Platform for Contemporary Arts, that showcase multimedia works, check out Sohrab Kashani, he is the founding director of the space.
Ewelina: As for Limited Access Festival, it’s organized by our friend Amirali, we were invited there along with several artists from Europe and the US. The festival is mainly related to film and video. The program included lectures and shorts — mostly from Iran — but not only because there was also a space for invited curators.
Limited Access takes place every two years and is designed as a showcase of art from all parts of the world.
So it’s something like a biennial?
Ewelina: Yes, sort of, but an independent one. All of these artists came with the support of their national embassies, we were supported by the Polish Embassy in Tehran and the Adam Mickiewicz Institute.
Did you encounter any limitations regarding the subject of your works?
Ewelina: Well, there’s obviously a censorship in Iran but sometimes it’s easy to hoax. We watched some shorts at the festival most of which were very political. At the same time, the narrative was very symbolic and metaphorical. I imagine the authorities couldn’t ban them because of that.
Andrzej: Well, their censorship is targeted foremost at sexually offensive content or any anti-governmental message. If people are very vocal about the situation, then of course they can get in serious trouble.
Ewelina: Yes, but we went to this big art gallery in Tehran and they were hosting an exhibition with images which resembled fragmentary parts of nudes. They were casts attached to canvas. We found it very shocking because to us it was very sexual and at the same time we understood that if a nude is not exhibited in full or it’s quite abstract, then it can be easily exposed in an art gallery. You know, it’s not as terrible as people imagine. It’s just that if you’re running an important exhibition, you may encounter state officials who check the venue to see if all the rules are obeyed.
Andrzej: You know, artists learn how to find ways how to find loopholes. Then the authorities adapt too and change the censors. This process repeats itself every few years. It happened to us during our first stay in Tehran. A let’s-call-him “clerk” came to our exhibition dressed up as a regular attendee to do a check-up. He made sure everything is in line with the rules and left after a few minutes.
Ewelina: We should mention, the exhibition’s title was: “Must Be Destroyed.” If you’re not too vocal, you don’t shout too loud or draw obvious anti-government stuff, you can enjoy some sort of creative freedom in Iran. During our first stay we also played a noise concert at the gallery, it was great. I need to add here that theres a huge difference between public and private space.
Andrzej: Yeah, well, the only weird aspect was… You know, in Iran you’re not allowed to dance. It’s prohibited because it’s interpreted as sexual activity — women move their hips and that’s way too much. We found it very weird that a DJ set was taking place at 6 PM with everyone standing still and just watching the visuals. People received it as an audiovisual performance — not a dance party — as would be the case in Europe.
How are you feeling about your recent move to Shanghai?
Ewelina: We’re very happy about it. We left Brussels with an open choice of whether we want to come back to Europe or not. Next year we’re also thinking of moving somewhere else.
Andrzej: We’re curious about the architecture because China is more futuristic than Europe or the US in these respects. New York City is also amazing. High-tech architecture definitely inspires us.
Ewelina: We like fast-paced environments where life happens 24/7. We’re super excited about living in Shanghai and we’d love to go back to the States more often. This metropolitan energy is our driving force. We would like to continue to lead our nomadic lifestyle and be able to move around freely, to explore new places. That’s why we are extremely happy that we got accepted for this six month long residency in Shanghai, maybe we will stay in Asia for a while. Our residency takes place at the Swatch Art Peace Hotel, in the heart of Shanghai, an amazing spot at the river. Artists receive great support, accommodations, and spacious studios. For the residency period, we are going to work on a project that combines 3D scanning, video, and gaming environments, and our work will be inspired by an architecture of the city. Most of the artists there usually focus on more traditional media, so we will break the routine a bit.
You won’t need to wear a Swatch all year round?
Andrzej: Haha, no, the artists there can enjoy total creative freedom, it’s a very relaxed environment. For us it’s a great opportunity to realize new work in this very unique setting. Simultaneously we will be working on other projects too.
Ewelina: Our building is located just at the river, we have a view at the Oriental Pearl TV tower, Pudong Financial Center etc. perfect inspiration (laughs). We’re stoked by these future cities where everything constantly evolves and the possibilities are infinite.
Andrzej: Of course China has it’s own political issues, also censorship, yet we will find our own Pussykrew way in this non-western environment. We have friends here, some of them run galleries. We’re exciting about being in Asia and doing new Pussykrew adventures.
Coming back to the political aspect of art, in an interview for Creators Project you once said that — no matter what method you use — you want to focus on issues you consider important. Your works are often neutral and unclassifiable in regards to gender. Is that primarily an aesthetic interest or do you see it often as a tool to channel your outlook?
Andrzej: As we said before, these themes were always present in our works. Gender, as well as identity is a social construct and we find its fluidity as something obvious.
Ewelina: I wouldn’t call it political, for us it’s just natural. We don’t pay attention to traits of character which are traditionally linked to one sexual identity or the other as male or female. We don’t abide by these roles which are said to be masculine or feminine. I find it abstract but I know that many people think that way.
Andrzej: Well, it’s certainly something we want to talk about. It’s also closely connected to technology.
Ewelina: Yes, the mechanical aspect. We also think a lot about the idea to connect the body and the machine. We come to the conclusion — as Donna Haraway once said – that cyborgs don’t have a specified gender — they live in a post-gender world. So yes! They don’t have the ability to reproduce as human beings. We are waiting for a moment when, for humanity, gender will become a secondary issue in the debate.
Andrzej: With “Tide” the title was a hint and I think the brief went in that direction. The track comes from the album “Waterfall” so the fluidity was omnipresent. And Black Cracker is our good friend. We’ve known him for some time. He also uses parts of the video as visuals in his live sets and made use of our video for an audio-visual installation.
Ewelina: You know, Black Cracker is first of all a poet and the fluidity in “Tide” is also about how relationships between people — how they are sometimes transient and superficial. He talks about these issues too, but is very metaphorical about it.
Some of your works — like [ B | W | R ] or “Deep Horizon” — are based on very slow movement, barely visible at first sight. Do you use this method to force the viewer to dedicate his attention in this era of instant stimuli?
Andrzej:Well, “Deep Horizon” is one of our older works but [ B | W | R ] still remains one of our pieces that we are most happy and proud with. Back then we worked with slow motion a lot but to be honest — us as individuals — we both have a short attention span.
Ewelina: I wouldn’t interpret it as a way of showing that we should stop — we wanted to create something that resembled an epic painting like one you could hang on a wall in your home or in a museum. At the same time we wanted it to be a video with the screens serving as frames. With “Deep Horizon” we wanted the clip to seem almost still. I think we extended twelve seconds into five minutes. (laughs) Our aim was to form a piece inspired by classical painting.
So something between an image and a video? A state of transition?
Andrzej: Yes, you know, as it comes to a state of transition, that’s how we perceive our art. We don’t focus on a particular medium or genre and easily shift around different platforms. We wanted the [ B | W | R ] installation to look like an ad. It was constructed with vertical panels. We made it as part of the Red Never Follows exhibition supported by Hugo. It wasn’t in the brief but the project came as a result of our fascination with corporate aesthetics and appeared as a subtle subversive action.
Ewelina: They had no idea what we would deliver for the exhibition. It was premiered at Saatchi Gallery in London. Most of the artists invited for the project showed older works and we decided to create something new. Since the exhibition was semi-corporate, we decided to play around with the convention of ads. We thought of panels which you may find in a clothing store where you have models. We invited our model-friends to this project and it has to be said they are rather unconventional models. You still don’t come across many people of color in the fashion industry or with a niche look — most models look more or less the same. We had our friend who’s a model and a dancer, it’s Kirikoo Des aka NSDOS, who you may know for his releases on ClekClekBoom. The other model was Mateiá Hoffmann whose identity is very fluid. She is a female model, walks the catwalk and does photo shoots. That’s why we wanted to present her with her true identity and her amazing, unique body. This concept was also inspired by classical sculpture and beauty. We wanted Mateiá to resemble a Greek sculpture. Once again, with [ B | W | R ] we were inspired by the painting as a medium as well.
Andrzej: These works were meditative, trancelike. Yet we’re not standing against the reality with much stimuli and we’re not criticizing the pace of life. We’re okay with that and we sometimes like to accentuate that but thanks to the fact that we work in between, we can come up with something else. It all depends on the particular project and moment. Yes, most of our works are slow, that’s a fact. I don’t know where this comes from. It’s an aesthetic we embraced and we always try to improve it. On the other hand, the video for Black Cracker was rather fast but I guess the one for SEVDALIZA is a bit slower. You know, our videos for HTRK were also kind of meditative. So it’s not a direct opposition — it’s more like a way to play with the audience.
Ewelina: I don’t think any of our works has anything to do with criticism. It’s mostly about affirming the state of affairs, sharing the awareness and maybe also transmitting some views we have on a particular topic. We also made the video “Giddy” for Perera Elsewhere which was inspired by corporate aesthetics but it’s not a critique. It’s a representation of the world that surrounds us and accepting this state, trying to find our way through it. We wanted to show that a dystopian landscape can be also really beautiful.
So you don’t agree with the accelerationist vibe of Jam City and other artists who believe that corporate reality is hell and should be done with as soon as possible?
Ewelina:Never, ever! If corporations are evil then we are too. We created them. We are the driving force behind them. It’s ‘us’ — not ‘them’. It’s all connected — as simple as that. Also, if corporations are evil, then what about governments that are partly supported and controlled by corporations? Nowadays I’m not really sure what’s worse, receiving funding from government or working with a brand.
Andrzej: Yeah, you know. Recently there’s this trendy word: disrupting.
Ewelina: It seems like talking about money is not politically correct, ‘fighting’ capitalism is better. It’s not that we think capitalism its the best system ever. As most of our friends, we follow the worlds suffering on an everyday basis, we clearly see the omnipresent inequality, abusive behavior, injustice. But changing the system is not easy, it doesn’t involve only empty words about anti-capitalism, human beings are extremely egocentric and they like to demonstrate their power and control whenever its possible.
To be honest, for me artists and academics seem like one of the most privileged groups in society, so watching them preach about how evil capitalism is, just seems strange. It simply doesn’t apply to the’real world, these people are often detached from reality, they live in a bubble, also their public usually consists of mostly privileged, white middle class people from the same circles. That’s the paradox. OK, it is important to question things and share your critical approach, but anti-capitalist art, writing, statements and manifestos, don’t really reach out to the poorest parts of society and don’t really effect the system.
Personally, when I think about transformation, I see face to face interaction, what’s important, is open source tools, sharing your knowledge and skills, grassroots movements, interacting with local communities, reaching out to parts of society that are excluded while listening to their needs and respecting their way of living, so that they can gain control over their lives. I guess everyone has their own way to resist everyday corporate reality struggle and their own way to spread activist’ ideals. There is no universal solution to all the issues.
Andrzej: I used to listen to a lot of punk and hardcore. I used to wear all these different badges on my rucksack but now capitalism is a game. You need to learn how to play it. Know your enemy.
Ewelina: You need to learn how to not end up eaten up. It’s like any other thing, depending on how you use it. Again, this doesn’t mean we strongly approve this system. We’re part of it so we won’t pretend to be in opposition because we aren’t. We both have roots in punk and rave cultures, we were raised as strong independent individuals, we both come from small towns in Poland, so we’ve learnt what resistance really means and how to fight for our dreams without any external support. It may sounds pathetic but it is true. We don’t like to compromise and whatever it means we are still trying to stay true to ourselves and the people around us. That’s how some people perceive us — that we cherish a punk ethos but I don’t know really why they think of us that way, maybe because we are quite independent, and we often say and do things in a very ‘straightforward’ manner.
We have experience in working alongside huge brands but we never compromised our ideas. We always had the luck to remain free in our creative work. At the same time, we always tried to transmit some delicately subversive content, perhaps not noticeable for everybody. There was this situation with one of our works, nobody actually checked what we were preparing and suddenly — one week before the exhibition we were asked to show the piece because someone said that we make offensive art. In the end nobody really saw the piece until the exhibition opening, I guess even if the piece would be somehow offensive (it wasn’t at all), we wouldn’t change it.
I bet they were judging you by your alias!
Andrzej: Ha, indeed. You can say it’s pretty NSFW.
Ewelina: We found it funny to see Pussykrew on posters and all sorts of branding. It was on the invitation to the exhibition so that circumstance was really funny for us, we are aware of the fact that our name is not appropriate for some public or corporate presentations and it makes it even better. As for corporate aesthetics, they inspire many people nowadays. Everything from graphic design to…
Like DIS Magazine?
Ewelina: Yeah, I wouldn’t say they’re in opposition. They’ve become a corporation too with their own brand and they sell merchandise like everyone else. It’s no longer ironic or a form of critique (probably it never was).
Aren’t they trying to re-appropriate the corporate ethos? It’s like Jeff Koons, who wants to be portrayed not as an artist but an entrepreneur. He’s trying to show that an artist can play the same game achieving the same results as a corporation.
Ewelina: Some artists have interest only in aesthetics. You see works inspired by corporate imagery that are very pristine and synthetic. In a way every artist is an entrepreneur, art is business obviously, everyone needs to pay their bills somehow.
Andrzej: I do notice that many artists treat capitalism and corporate reality as their medium.
Ewelina: Well, you know, it’s hard not to take part in it and not treat capitalism as a main point of focus, it’s simply is all over the place. This is what surrounds us, so I guess most of the people I know would be somehow influenced by capitalism, exploring its concept and aesthetics.
Andrzej: We’re not that old [laughs], but we were the generation which witnessed an upgrade from the analog world to the digital. I think nowadays younger people perceive corporate reality and omnipresent technology in a different way. They simply grew up with these surroundings, these logos, the corporate setting, It’s their natural environment.
Yeah, it’s the same with the internet. People born 1995+ don’t really divide between the real and virtual. They were born in the internet reality and that’s it.
Andrzej: To be honest, we always try to be critical towards technology. We’re not naive enthusiasts and we don’t perceive it as a utopian solution to all of humanity’s problems. We try to maintain our interaction with technology as fluid as possible. It’s interesting to observe how younger generations embrace technology. I guess we’re outsiders in our own generation. Like I remember a viral video once where they asked a girl about her greatest fear. She answered that it’s the lack of WiFi. We would probably agree [laughs].
Ewelina: Yeah, we depend on the internet. I need to stay constantly connected, mainly because of creative work as well as personal interactions. It’s not only the Internet — it’s our primary channel for communication.
Andrzej: Yeah, it’s more than just chilling on Facebook all day long, [laughs] it’s a tool.
To sum up, maybe a question about the future… it’s at the core of your work. How do you approach the future? Are you optimistic or skeptical about technology? Will we become its “slaves?”
Andrzej: If you ask if we fear that people will become slaves of technology, we wouldn’t use the word “slaves.” To be honest, we simply can’t wait. Our biggest dream is to become cyborgs one day although we know it sounds a bit funny [laughs].
Ewelina: It’s the same as with corporations. You need to be critical about technology but know its possibilities. We’re totally optimistic about the idea of developing our psychological or physical abilities through connecting our bodies with machines. If it was possible, we would proceed with it even today. I mean its already happening right now as we speak, we are simply wondering how things will develop. I once read an interview with Hugo de Garis from 2010 and he talked about AI and how this area of science is developing. He also mentioned the fear that surrounds it. People are already afraid of losing control over technology. I’m fast-forwarding into the future right now, maybe even a few decades but what I mean is that people will no longer be the dominating being on Earth. For me it’s obvious that humans are not the final form of being and one day will transform into transhumans or something beyond. It seems like a natural progression that people will work on artificial intelligence which will outperform humans. We find it super exciting.
Andrzej: Yeah, it’s also part of the aesthetic we grew up with. I watched “Tetsuo Ironman” and Japanese cyber-punk movies a lot. Hugo de Garis talks about a future war between people defending the idea of humanity and those who will advocate progress and fusing with the machine. So it’s a potential conflict between regular humans and cyborgs — humans that will use technology to upgrade their natural parameters. It’s funny because our friend posted the interview with de Garis on Facebook at the same time when robot championships were taking place. Did you see this viral video where all the robots fall down at the same time? [laughs] This is really happening. You have people like Elon Musk who invests millions of dollars to stop advancements in A.I. technology from fear of it destroying the human race. On the other hand, we have the new episode of Terminator in theatres — so that’s both funny and awkward. Artificial intelligence approaches us sooner than we think. Everything is happening with a delay though — it’s like with the Internet and mobile technology — it was developed in the eighties. So we hope to embrace artificial intelligence in twenty or thirty years from now. Recently we met the artist and researcher — Freyja VanDenBoom, she is running the Robot Party and fighting for rights for Robots, so they can also enjoy freedom and have equal rights as humans, instead of being slaves of humanity.
[This installment’s header uses Władysław Strzemiński‘s “Kompozycja unistyczna 14,” painted in 1934.]