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Ian Cheng: A Portal to Infinity

When reading the book ‘The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind’ (1976) by Julian Jaynes, Cheng was fascinated by its theory that people in ancient times didn’t make conscious, reflected decisions, and that it wasn’t until recently that we got what Cheng refers to as “the app of consciousness.” This inspired Cheng to make the Emissary works: “I don’t know if it’s true, but it’s certainly weird, and it definitely captured my imagination for making these works called ‘Emissaries’.” “Technology is maybe the one underlying force that forces us as human beings to consider what the container of a human being really is and how much it can stretch or where it will break.” Cheng has always been very interested in artificial intelligence, and the live simulations were his opportunity to create his own model of the composition of the mind. The look of ‘Emissaries’ is inspired by the Japanese film director Hayao Miyazaki, where everything in the background, such as nature, is unique: “I wanted to fuse the disciplines of procedural generation with traditional 3D animation to make unique motion capture, to make unique 3D models, to make unique rocks, plants and animals as a way of replicating this sort of cartoonish nature.” Ian Cheng (b. 1984) is an American artist known for his live simulations, which explore the nature of mutation and human behaviour. His simulations, commonly understood as “virtual ecosystems”, are less about the wonders of new technologies than about the potential for these tools to realize ways of relating to a chaotic existence. Ian Cheng was interviewed by Kasper Bech Dyg at his studio in New York City in September 2017. The Emissary works was filmed at MoMA PS1.




Mark Bradford Interview: Layers of Violence

“I pillage my own work. I tear it down and build it up in traces.” Let us introduce you to American painter Mark Bradford, who doesn’t use traditional paint but material “that has something to do with the social fabric of the times we live in.” Instead of paint, Bradford uses liquefied paper, which shares similarities with paint. He uses billboard paper from the streets or building material from any building supply store. Instead of “looking in,” which he finds to be typical of modernist painting, Bradford has chosen to “look out.” Bradford feels that his way of working on canvasses is aggressive, even violent: “It’s like tearing into the body. It’s very physical. It’s like if I just took my hand and reached in and pulled out the heart and then yanked it out.” Mark Bradford (b. 1961) is an American painter. One of Bradford’s concerns is improving society with his art as well as through a number of social projects. His work can be found in prominent international venues such as San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, REDCAT in Los Angeles and Saatchi Gallery in London. In 2014 Bradford was presented with the US Department of State’s Medal of Arts. He lives and works in Los Angeles, California. Mark Bradford was interviewed by Marc-Christoph Wagner at his studio in Los Angeles, California in January 2016.




Nick Cave Interview: The World is My Skin

Have you ever wished that you could put on a suit which would open up the imagination and take you to the world of your dreams? In this video artist Nick Cave presents his wearable sculptures, the 'Soundsuits', made from discarded everyday materials. Nick Cave (b. 1959) is an American fabric sculptor and performance artist, who trained as a dancer with Alvin Ailey. In this video he presents his mystical Soundsuits, which are odd fabric sculptures of many colors and shapes, and are made of materials such as twigs, dyed human hair, sisal, plastic buttons, beads, sequins and feathers. The finished pieces bear some resemblance to African ceremonial costumes and masks. "It is like building a second skin, that hides gender, race, class, and forces you to look without judgement" Cave explains. The sculptures almost look like live beings and work as a kind of second skin, transforming the wearer, disguising identity, and creating sounds as the wearer moves. "I want people to leave with a different sort of consciousness, to look at their surroundings differently, and I want to get the audience back to their dream state." Nick Cave was interviewed by Jonas Hjorth at the opening of Nick Cave's exhibition 'The World is my Skin' at Trapholt, Kolding in Denmark.




Tomás Saraceno: The Art of Noticing

Follow the acclaimed Argentinian artist Tomás Saraceno into his installations of intricate spider webs inhabited by solitary, social and semi-social spiders, bridging the architectures of each other’s webs. In the video, Saraceno talks about how spiders mirror human beings and help us understand ourselves and the way we live. Tomás Saraceno was interviewed by Helle Fagralid at his studio in Berlin in November 2019.




Renzo Piano: On the Shoulders of Giants

In-depth biographical interview with the Pritzker prizewinning Italian architect Renzo Piano – known for celebrated buildings such as The Shard and Centre Georges Pompidou – who explains why it’s okay “to steal” as long as you give something back. “What keeps people alive is not what you’ve done, what you’ve been, but what you will be and what you will do.” Piano feels that one must avoid falling into the trap of nostalgia by thinking too much about one’s roots and past. Born in Genoa, he feels that the sea and its connotations are part of what shaped him: “The sea is like a mysterious place to go one day, so you grow up with this idea to run away one day, and to discover the rest of the world.” Moreover, compares the sea to a soup, “a consommé of different cultures.” “It’s very funny, because as an architect, at a certain age, when you travel you feel at home everywhere.” Piano, who considers himself to be a European rather than an Italian, feels that that travelling is extremely important, because it allows you to get away from what you’re doing, permitting you to see it more clearly when you return. As an architect, you can’t simply be “a tourist”, but you need to understand and listen – not only to people, but also to places, as places too have a story to tell. In continuation of this, he emphasizes that “young people should travel to understand how lucky they are to be born in a place where you live on the shoulders of giants. You live on the freedom that was build up in centuries.” If you don’t go away, if you don’t travel, you don’t understand how lucky you are. Moreover, it is important that you appreciate that diversity is a value, not a problem, and what makes us grow, learn – and steal: “Stealing, I know, is not nice, but if the condition is that you give back, it’s not that bad.” When young people come to work at Piano’s offices, what they’re told is to “take, take away – don’t wait for us to give you, take. But if possible, give back one day.” “Architects don’t change history, but they witness the change of history.” Architects give a shape to the change, which is why public buildings are so important and apart from being good craftsmen, architects need to master the social aspect: “You are not just a builder, you are also a civic person, so you make a shelter for human beings and human communities. And this becomes even more interesting, because then you make buildings that are for people to stay together and to share values, which is the beginning of maybe making a better world.” In continuation of this, though the war didn’t affect him directly, Piano (b. 1937) grew up with a pacifistic attitude, which has stayed with him ever since: “Making a great building is a civic gesture – a gesture of peace.”




Ishiuchi Miyako: Photography Makes History

“I can’t capture the past, but the things in front of me are an extension of the past.” Meet one of the most prominent figures in contemporary photography, award-winning Japanese photographer Ishiuchi Miyako. In this video, Miyako shares the story behind some of her most pivotal and pioneering works. When she began taking photographs, Miyako enjoyed developing the pictures in the darkroom: “The darkroom was like a womb for me.” Inside it, she explains, she was cut off from the rest of the world: “And from there, a new world was born.” She was commissioned to photograph clothing worn by people during the Hiroshima nuclear bombing of 1945 (‘ひろしま / hiroshima’, 2007-2010): “The things in front of us contain the passage of time. They make you think about the meaning of time gone by. That is what I do with my photos,” she explains, adding that she has never subscribed to all the different photographic theories: “I just thought that photos would make history. I wanted to be someone who makes history.” Ishiuchi Miyako was interviewed by Mette Holm in her home in Kiryu, Japan in March 2020.




David Hockney: The World is Beautiful

The influential British painter David Hockney talks about looking and painting for more than 60 years – and shares a story that made him reflect on our time. “The world is very, very beautiful if you look at it. But most people don’t look very much. They scan the ground in front of them so they can walk, but they don’t really look at things incredibly well, with intensity. I do, and I’ve always known that.” In the video, you also get to experience the world premiere of an animation technique, which Hockney himself calls “time-based brush painting.” David Hockney was interviewed by Marc-Christoph Wagner at his home in France in March 2019.




Laurie Anderson: Advice to the Young

“Be loose!” The legendary multimedia artist, musician and film director Laurie Anderson puts it as simply and clearly as that when she here advises artists to avoid being pressured into limiting themselves artistically. Calling yourself something as “vague” as a multimedia artist – as Anderson does – gives you the freedom to do whatever you want, without having to worry about whether it fits a certain definition: “It’s so easy to get pigeonholed in the art world.” Anderson is aware that sales are a strong underlying factor – “I am a 21st century citizen in a highly corporate world” – but she nonetheless maintains that you should always follow your own interest and obsession: “Whatever makes you feel free and really good – that’s what to do. It’s really simple.” Laurie Anderson (b. 1947) is an internationally renowned experimental performance artist, composer, musician and film director, based in New York. Initially trained as a sculptor, Anderson became widely known outside the art world with her single ‘O Superman’, which reached number two in the UK pop charts in 1981. She is considered a pioneer of electronic music and is praised for her unique spoken word albums and multimedia art pieces. Laurie Anderson was interviewed by Christian Lund at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark in May 2016.




Ishiuchi Miyako: Advice to the Young

“Advice is fine, but don’t listen to everything,” says the pioneering and award-winning Japanese photographer Ishiuchi Miyako. Miyako argues that the road to success for a photographer is about improving your cultural knowledge and “to do your best, and then you will see the result.” Ishiuchi Miyako (b. 1947) is a Japanese photographer. In 2005, Miyako represented Japan at the 51st Venice Biennale with her work ‘Mother’s’ (2000-2005). She has been the subject of solo retrospectives at the J. Paul Getty Museum (2015) and the Yokohama Museum of Art (2017), among others, and her work is held in the collections of MoMA in New York and the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. Miyako’s accolades include the Kimura Ihei Memorial Photographic Award (1979), and the 2014 Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography. Ishiuchi Miyako was interviewed by Mette Holm in her home in Kiryu in March 2020.




Shirin Neshat: Advice to the Young

“I think it’s so important for young people to think about the world, the bigger picture.” The renowned Iranian artist and filmmaker Shirin Neshat here encourages young artists to be socially conscious and open to what goes on beyond the walls of their home: “Otherwise you make work that other people don’t need to look at, because it doesn’t really have a place beyond a very small narcissistic conversation.” Neshat feels that in the Western culture we are encouraged to lead a life centred on individual ideas and interests. She finds this emphasis on self-interest worrisome and considers America, where she resides, a very capitalistic and individualistic society, where people are basically told to just look after themselves. Shirin Neshat (b.1957) is an Iranian visual artist, known primarily for her work in film, video and photography. Neshat gained international prominence in 1995 with her iconic series of black and white, calligraphy-overlaid photographs ‘Women of Allah’, and broke new ground winning the Golden Lion award at the Venice Biennale (1999) for her video installation ‘Turbulent’ and the Silver Lion at the International Venice Film Festival (2009) for directing ‘Women Without Men’. Shirin Neshat was interviewed by Marc-Christoph Wagner at Faurschou Foundation in Copenhagen, Denmark in connection with the exhibition ‘Shirin Neshat, Looking for Oum Kulthum’ in March 2018.




Lars von Trier: The Burden From Donald Duck

Get into the creative mind of film director Lars von Trier and learn how reading in his world is connected with writing. Trier calls literature his “basic medium” and reveals his inspiration from writers as Thomas Mann, Leo Tolstoy, and Marcel Proust. He refers to dramaturgy as his “toothache” connected to his reading of Donald Duck, but writing is “the greatest kick you can get,” he says. Lars von Trier (b.1956) is a Danish film director and screenwriter, whose prolific career spans almost four decades. His pivotal work is known for its technical innovation and examination of existential, social, and political issues. Lars von Trier was interviewed by Christian Lund at his home outside Copenhagen in November 2020.




David Shrigley

“You’re on the right track if you’re excited about what you’re doing.” British visual artist David Shrigley, known for his humorous spin on common situations, here advises his young colleagues to be open to learning from mistakes and stresses that being an artist “isn’t for everybody.” Interviewed by Christian Lund at Galleri Nicolai Wallner, Copenhagen in January 2016 in connection to his exhibition ‘Coloured Works on Paper’. 

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