artline Kunstmagazin INTERVIEW (de)
artline Art Magazine – Piotr Iwicki | INTERVIEW
Mr. Iwicki, instead of using a brush or a drawing pencil, you use a computer to create your works. What does that involve exactly? Do you work with drawing programs or do you put together your digital collages with the help of a computer?
I use both. That is to say, I take pictures with my digital camera or I create them using computer programs like Bryce, and then I compile them into collages in Photoshop. I also use drawing programs, and even layout programs – whatever will take me to where I want to go.
On the other hand, I don’t use digital painting programs that simulate a painted image. Instead, I use whatever the machine – my computer – can process and supply, and then I interpolate this material to create my works.
Your works drew a lot of attention at the first exhibition organized by the Freiburgbased KünstlerWerkstatt at its new Kunsthaus L6 domicile. In part, this was because your works introduce new digital production processes to the traditional printing workshop while at the same time offering a formal and substantive consideration of the very notion of a virtual image screen. In other words, your digital works include a reflection on the world of digital images. How would you describe the themes that are addressed in your works, and do you feel at all at home in a printing workshop?
Whether I feel at home in a printing workshop is less relevant because my artistic work involves the exclusive use of a computer – a machine that has accelerated our lives in certain external respects, but which at the same time has decelerated our capacity to act in certain internal and independent respects. Our reliance on computers has grown tremendously. How many of us, for instance, are still able to calculate with ease in our heads? And what has become of our handwriting? Will the information made available about us serve to protect us or destroy us? Will the computer help to increase the profundity of human inquiry and discourse or will it have the effect of leveling these out? In the end, it will always be up to us to decide. And it is exactly this ambivalent relationship that concerns me in my work. These are issues that are redefining our society, issues such as biometrics and security, surveillance systems and the public sphere, genetic engineering and the dark side of our values, video game addiction as a sign of inner emigration and exclusion from society. All of these issues are related to advancing computerization, and they can all be expected to have a direct or indirect impact on our lives. What we are witnessing is the formation of an online universe – the possibility of a virtual life and the impossibility of living a real life.
Then it would be fair to say that the computer and our relationship to it represent a source of themes for your work?
Yes, the questions about the meaning or meaninglessness of life are as old as humanity itself, but the computer forces us in its ambivalence to do a lot of re-ordering. I tend to read philosophy and science books to approach and familiarize myself with certain themes. But news reports, the latest scientific findings and, naturally, life itself are also an important source of ideas that spur a certain creative agitation in me. I think it is again time to send messages – the notion of “l' art pour l' art” has reached such a degree of abstraction that it has unfortunately ceased to have anything to do with our lives. It is a question of the communication within the world of art and with art itself.
I aim to give expression to such observations and experiences in my work as an artist. And given the conceptual nature of this work, it is essential that it express something more than itself as an object or as an individual work.
Which means that strands of contemporary, sociological, aesthetic and scientific discourse are expressed in your works through the display of certain types or processes of representation, and that the beholder of your works may encounter, for instance, theories espoused by Baudrillard or Virilio?
You could say that. You know, some people regard Paul Virilio as a provocateur. As a philosopher and cultural theorist, he writes of the “the colonization of the body” and offers compelling accounts of the negative aspects of progress. Virilio anticipates a kind of shock in the human perception of reality and the world if the acceleration and globalization of societal processes and the flow of information continue to intensify. What influences my artistic thought most is Virilio’s suggestion: “One must think the unthinkable. Everything else is not worth the effort. One must think in areas where it doesn’t even work, where one can’t think at all.”
During the Middle Ages, religious rituals involving public self-flagellation were common. In some countries, these practices are still with us today. Many people today experience their contemporary existence as unbearable. They flee into virtual worlds and begin to show signs of visual dependence, with their objects of fascination including computer games, soap operas and reality TV. This preoccupation has come to have the status of an ersatz religion, which is why I personally have come to regard it as a kind of “media flagellation.”
Jean Baudrillard said that global capitalism had allowed the messages it broadcasts via the media to drift ever further from criteria of truth, thereby suggesting that what was really taking place was a comprehensive manipulation, a ritualized form of consumer seduction. And yet we are all consumers. It is this permanent simulation of reality that I try to depict in my work.