Hi Krista, it looks like it’s been a busy year for you so far. What have your highlights been?
After completing my collaboration with Lanvin for the 2018 Winter Collection, I was very pleased to collaborate with Roger Dubuis and Lamborghini. I skinned a Lambo at The Art Park Miami with a solo show earlier this year. Since then, I have been writing my Techism book, “Art will save us”. This book is an extension of my Techism manifesto, outlining the major issues and trends that are transforming our society due to digital disruption and how creative leadership and collaboration with artists will provide solutions I want to avoid a future culture of fear and division through the power of art to unify us and to create a clear and optimistic vision for the future.
From what I understand, the movement that you are behind, Techism, reminds us that we are in control of our relationship with technology by re-appropriating it as a means to create and experience art. Am I missing anything?
Techism is an acknowledgment of digital disruption during this significant point of history where the world has become a blank canvas. Artists and entrepreneurs are now creating a new civilization because old institutions and systems are being uprooted. I believe that Steve Jobs was an artist and the lines are becoming blurred between the tech entrepreneur and artist. I believe that we need a collective paradigm shift toward the rise of the creative as visionary leaders to create solutions for the world’s problems through collaboration, co-creation, and dialogue at the cutting edge of technology. There will never be another point in human civilization as transformative as this, as we shift from analogue to digital, to cyber-human, and the pace of change is exponential. It is integral that art and the intention of serving humanity is at the core of all technological innovation and that is why I feel compelled to advocate this philosophy as a bridge between art, Tech.
How did Techism start?
In 2013, I realized that my consciousness was shifting into digital. I am a student of Marshall McLuhan, and I believe that his theory, “the medium is the message”, is prophetic and more prevalent than ever. Indeed it is the technology and the devices that we use every day that determines our social behaviours, structures, and our consciousness. There is and will be immense displacement and chaotic change. Change is good, but not everyone will reap the benefits if they are not aware or educated on how to recognize and create new opportunities in the chaos. I observe that the art world looks to the past for inspiration, even in 2019. Famous artworks reflect the past leading up to the present, which keeps the majority of artists in the same paradigm. Some artists are exploring digital, exploring the radical disruption of our world, but we need more participation and exploration. This is why I was compelled to write the manifesto for a Techism, to understand the current situation and where it is headed and how artists can collaborate and co-create in the realm of technology alongside engineers, technocrats, and capitalists. We cannot allow the creation of a new civilization to rest in the hands of capitalists and engineers. Art has always ensured that humanity is served and expressed through new technology. Techism is about bridging artists and tech engineers to create work that serves humanity. From these innovations and concepts, the seeds of inspiration and intent carry-on, as they always have and always will.
What kind of reception do you tend to get when you explain Techism to viewers and fellow artists?
New and exciting technological advances are adopted by large segments of the population without much forethought to the potential side effects. It usually takes ten years to know the effects of new technology. I have the unique ability to sense and predict what will happen. Five years ago artists didn’t get it. My only supporters were technology entrepreneurs and engineers at the leading edge of innovation. Not even my supervisors understood what I was doing for my MFA. I am not bothered by other’s opinions of my work. The concept of digital humanism, philosophy and technology weren’t on the radar of popular discussion because the symptomatic effects of social media and technology were still too early to observe in 2014. It was Tech companies that realized their inventions were affecting society at large, such as Facebook and Instagram debating the concept of getting “likes” for photos. In 2018, it was scientifically proven (at UCLA) that generation Z is the most lonely and depressed generation in the history of human civilization, and this is partly attributed to social media. This is the reason why Facebook had to make serious changes in their company culture and user experience.
Now everyone acknowledges the effects of social media. Now surveillance capitalism threatens our democracy and it is the greatest threat to human rights and autonomy for our generation. Data is power. Whomever controls our data has power over us. We must be aware of the importance of owning our own data, and controlling our own data. This is data autonomy.
You cite Mark Rothko as an artist who has influenced you. What do you think he’d make of your work, and Techism in general?
Mark Rothko’s work was a response to the lonely and alienating realities of modern urban life in New York. His early figurative paintings captured lonely souls commuting in subway stations of New York. He created colour fields to make people feel a human connection in an alienating urban environment that lacking community or empathy. He wanted people to feel something, and everyone feels something together in the same room with his artwork. That is why some people have emotional, spiritual experiences when they see his work.
We are both trying to connect human beings to something greater than ourselves. Rothko’s legacy continues after his death. This is the power of art.
What do you make of the relationship between painting and digital work? Does the latter make the former obsolete?
Painting will never disappear. I love painting, and I am in expressionist. Art must encompass every possible form of human expression available. This is not a competition, because making art and experiencing art is more powerful when it’s shared and diverse in its views. Artists can create artwork in any medium. I choose digital because I felt that there is a higher purpose for me as an artist through this medium and through the Techism movement. I have put the paintbrush away for now.
What is your process like; How do your works take shape?
I begin with images of LED lights because light is the new ink. I was not trained in Adobe software, but I began to experiment and manipulate these images into the artwork that you see now. I consider my works as digital paintings because my process is that of an expressionist painter.
Your work has taken the form of video, prints on plexiglass, clothing and most recently a limited run of digital prints on paper for Rise Art. Does the process vary depending on what the work is intended for in its final form?
The creative process is the same for all, but every artwork has a different energy. There are artworks that I choose to print on plexiglass versus a supercar, for example, because it really depends on the energy, the intention and the character of the finished piece.
Do you think the message or effect of a work differs depending on what medium it’s delivered through?
I absolutely believe that every artwork has a unique message. Some of my artwork is calming, some of my artwork is highly sensual, some of my artwork is like floating in the depths of the ocean… There are no rules, I work using my intuition. I create an artwork that has a life of its own, so it’s physical dimensions and materiality give it character. Every piece must have character.
What’s next for your practice and for Techism?
My next project is an AR art installation using the power of big data. I am collaborating with big data companies and AR production. This project will become a world tour in 2020/21, as we build awareness about the importance of data ownership and autonomy. I will keep you updated!
Major collaboration projects with technology companies is my passion.