2006. acrylic on floor and canvas. 170x2160x1440 cm. Berlin

Probably my fav contemporary artist now is Katharina Grosse. Her wok blurs the boundaries (frescoes, murals, set design, architecture and etc.). It is very large scale painting. It looks like Augmented Reality and it is very simple and painterly at the same time – finally something new! Too bad its not sustainable.

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The interview

Volley

I answer some questions about my art and aesthetics.

Al means a lot of different things from al Sabbah to Liber AL of Crowley and Astakhov sounds very Russian. How do you channel this contradiction into your practice?
I grew up in Russia and spent my formative, seminal years in Canada, and yes I’m proud to represent both, Canadian and Russian in that context. I try to crosspolinate these two streams through my work.

There is content that reminds me of Soviet Era art and Suprematists in your work, but where is Canadian part?
I was going to work as a beta tester for Discreet Logic corporation in 1998 in Montreal, but it was captured by Autodesk. At the same time I made my first discrete paintings. I developed my approach in Canada, aesthetic filters.

What kind of filters do you use in your work?
It all boils down to this fundamental problem: filters are logical programs that are employed through the use of brush, hammer or a computer which intrinsically are the aesthetic vehicles because aesthetic
imperatives are inherent in every logic. For example, there several artists that use traditional painting materials, like Erika Somogyi and, say Colin Crumplin. Erika uses watercolors for depicting very LSD induced like landscapes, and Colin uses acrylics and photographs for his multimodal diptychs. But they both use comparatively new logic, and aesthetic filters for me. Then there are some generative artists that use computers to produce something that just looks like Jackson Pollock paintings although without that depth. Not much new and exciting. Media is the message, as McLuhan said. And media is just a logic machine. I explore aesthetics of compression, painterly quantisation, different dithering techniques through my work. Works feature content painting with elements of figurativity, chromatic subsampling up to 256 colors. The main problem is what would be the best compressible, yet beautiful piece. What would be the best way of compression, that features novelty yet? Tangential problems that explored in my work: granulation, aggregation, ontologies, interference, calibrating elements, noise. Also it is still traditional painting albeit digital.

Talking about digital visual art vs. design, do you see yourself coming mostly from design background or arts background?
Kind of both and neither. I spent quite some time in warez scene on the internets, where imperatives are plain and simple: Knowledge for the masses.

Is there politics in your work?
Everything that we do is political. Every our action, every choice that we
make. How we interact with surroundings is very political. so, yes my work is political in that sense. Also if there is something concerned with aesthetics, the way of altering our experience of reality is very political. Even what Im saying now is political. Perception is a major filter. And its elastic.

Do you affiliate yourself with any art style or art movement?
I think that art, visual art that is, is something that appeal to our visual
senses as new and captivating (that relates to beauty and curiosity). These are the two, I think, essential ingredients to something that is called “visual art”…

Basically you give a new definition for the term “visual art”. And if I dont
find anything new and exciting in, say Boticelli paintings?

Exactly. If you dont find anything new in it, its not visual art for you. It is antique.I proposed new classification for music once. Because I collected literally thousands of music albums and I listened lots of it on my mp player, I had to come up with comfortable naming scheme. Differentiate by artist or album name is not handy, because there too many, by keyword, year, label or style is not very informative. My classification consisted of 5 categories: New, Old, Current, Favorites, Archived. Its context based.

Where would you place your marks in “current” art?
I dont see much New in what is called contemporary visual art.
But I have lots of Favorites. Miltos Manetas, Phoebe Washburn, Andrea Zittel, Ben Fry, Jules de Balincourt, Neo Rausch, Gabriela Fri?riksdottir, Sofi Zezmer, Scott Anderson, AES and etc. There were much interesting new stuff coming from sound scene as of late. Much more interesting developments in audio. Generative techniques, new interesting forms of synthesis. Interesting new forms of fusing improvisation, programming and filtering. Modular tools. Recontextualizing, like the whole neo folk thing, local “schools”, like brilliant “Port Thunder” with Aaron Dilloway, Black Dice and Forcefield. Or granular synthesis and drone guys, like Tim Hecker, Cristian Fenneszh and Polmo Polpo. These artists sometimes do a lot more interesting visual art as well than that that we usually see in galleries. There not much going on in visual arts like this, I think.

Why is that so?
The thing is, the major struggle for visual arts now, for artists, galleries and public is to embrace technology. You see, art was always about use of new technology. Be it encaustics, oil colors, acrylic, impasto painting, use of spectral colors or that urinal of Duchamp. Artists were always looking for new ways of expression, they were always on the edge of science and technology, be it Leonardo, Paul Klee or Verner Panton. It seems that most artists, galleries and public now are afraid of technology, despite the fact that it is ubiquitous. It runs our society. So we have this strange phenomenon. Mass denial of sorts. Almost everyone in the developed world uses networks and at least one computer in their everyday life, be it cell phone, PC, ATM and at the same time we see that galleries are filled with pieces that utilize filters that 200 years old. Its not contemporary, its antiques. There are relatively new interesting things out there, like generative art, bio art and so on, but somehow its still considered cutting edge, despite the fact that it appeared in 60s of previous century. A long time ago. But it still not embraced by most players as art per se. Maybe there are problems with perception on public end, I dont know. Maybe its the critics and curators to blame. Or Id rather prefer myself being ignorant. It would be timely to answer on you previous question at this point. My work is not that much new. I use some new techniques, but it is still traditional painting. Discrete and at times automatic content painting that we know from artists like Seurat, Louigi Russolo and Malevitch. Not that Im aware of much visual artists dealing principally with noise though. So there is yet something new in it, I hope.

You say that there is something instantly identifiable in you work, like a brand?
I surely hope so. Every communicative act is about bouncing some meaning around the company, around the subjects of communication. If they can identify the source of that meaning, thats it, it can be called a brand, signature or what not. I had a conversation with my father once. He worked on interactive geometry of aircraft back in the USSR. He told me about one of his innovations concerning feedback loops. About mechanical system that changes its behavior depending on input, on changing conditions. I would dare to say that ultimately I continue to push this theme forward, but in my work physical system being visual primarily.