EXAMINING SPACE IN BETWEEN MATERIAL AND IMMATERIAL REALMS.
CGI, painter, film, performer, poetry
Traditional art practices often bring along high costs for equipment and materials. Digital art, however, is more cost-effective and convenient – and, you can create characters and worlds that can be accessed anywhere, at any time. That is according to Georgian multimedia artist Ana Gzirishvili, who experiments with film, music, poetry, paintings, installations, as well as CGI. While frequently moving between Tbilisi and Berlin, Ana discovered the limitless benefits of the digital medium, and started making her own CGI characters. She has even created her own digital chimera, ‘Bay’, that represents an alter ego of hers. Ana uses Bay in her art as a way of exploring the conflicting themes associated with new media, alongside other things.
We talked with Ana to hear more about the possibilities of creating art in the digital sphere, her chimera “Bay”, and her motivations to combine it with the real world.
"The way we are interacting with the digital world nowadays is capitalism's digital extension through social media."
STK: What inspired you to get into digital art initially?
Ana: When I was working in Berlin at UDK studio, I had all those ideas in my head and I did not have the money to buy materials and experiment. I started pouring all these ideas into the digital world and that was really satisfying. I started creating simple shapes, it was a RRISK shoe collection. I got completely sucked into cinema 4D, I learned everything by myself step by step. Also since I started living more in-between two cities, I was constantly moving flats, my belongings are all around different flats, only my hard drive was always with me. The CGI world was my only stable home.
STK: What are your favourite aspects of creating 3D worlds or models?
Ana: Through creating 3D imagery it seems that we have mastered ‘’magic”. I like that because it seems funny this way. In a space without rules, where all gravity and physical options are possible, I discover new attitudes, concepts, which also transit into the real world.
I adore female fantasy. I think working digitally is a really good medium for expressing desires and images that are not completed in this world yet. It is something like ‘’creating the future’’. I imagine that our future will be built according to female fantasies.
I also love to mix reality and CGI. Sometimes when people look at my works, they do not really know if some part of the image is digital or real – although, it is definitely not my goal to create visuals that look super realistic.
STK: What's the underlying concept of your virtual brand ‘Immaterials’?
Ana: There are many thoughts behind creating Immaterials.
After living in Berlin for some years, I started going to my home city - Tbilisi - more often. It felt like I was split between 2 places, as if I didn’t actually exist in either of these cities. It was like I had no physical place – there was some kind of pressure for me to be more digital, immaterial. I had to create a space for myself in the digital world.
Immaterials is an immaterial fantasy in our real world. The digital that affects material.
Also, My CGI chimera Bay needed some clothing, so I started creating some shoes and underwear for her. Bay is Immaterials’ first model.
Immaterials is also talking to the IG-s histeria of fashion. Our main digital interaction window Instagram is promoting luxury and rich lifestyles through so much fashion that we see on the platform. Promoting that ‘’rich is cool’’ is immensely damaging for young people. There is really no need for so much fashion, so many fashion objects. Instead I wish this platform would be used for more experiments in art, poetry, science. Social media is pressuring me to acquire some fashion pieces and take a picture, my answer to that is - immaterial design.
STK: Wait... Who is your chimera Bay exactly?
Ana: Working with my CGI character ‘Bay’ while researching the role of digital chimeras in today’s societies is my ongoing project. Bay’s creation is in one way inspired by the NASA-funded experiment in the 1960s where scientists tried to teach dolphins to speak. Scientists back then assumed that a creature without hands would have a complete spiritual/holistic experience of the world, as they did not have hands. Hands are seen as the human’s sinister tool for the material perception and destruction of the world. Taking influence from this, I wanted to create an anthropomorphic androgynous humanoid, and made some drawings of creatures that deliberately cut their hands off – to stop them destroying the world with their hands. One of them was Bay – who now represents me digitally.
Bay also has no hands. She is a completely vulnerable creature roaming different places and digital clouds. Bay appears in a market in Tbilisi, in digital spaces, at her exhibition in Berlin, and she is in a dialogue with me in the video Life of my ghost. Bay is also one of my alter egos: she is a child of melancholia, and is twisted from a feminine perspective as well. When I was creating her I felt extremely vulnerable in Berlin as an independent female immigrant artist. She seems completely vulnerable, but she also tries to search for nonviolent ways in order to find her strength and get empowered.
I recently discovered there is a tale ‘’The girl without hands’’ by the Brothers Grimm. In the tale, the girl is in trouble - but the tree, angel, birds and others help her. The girl without hands still gets everything she dreamed of.
STK: Your works appear kinda alien, especially when putting your 3D creations into real settings. Are there any feelings you want to evoke within the viewer?
Ana: Yes. Displacement, mixing, alternative worlds.
We are split between digital and real since some time already. I honestly have this confused, unsettling feeling that the way real society and the digital world is interacting today is really not working out for us. Social media promises young people some vague opportunities that end up in conflict with the real work situation, housing situation etc.
There is no time for anything, we try to survive economically and meanwhile we feel immense pressure to also donate our time to social media. It is not working out! I am referencing Mark Fisher’s texts in some of my works with Bay. Fisher talks about younger generations' inclination towards depression. He uses terms such as state of ‘’whateverness’’, ‘’lost futures’’ etc. The way we are interacting with the digital world nowadays is capitalism's digital extension through social media. So this interaction is in its core oppressive and caging.
I am trying to take my time experimenting, to find a way to live in both worlds to connect those yet-barely-connected worlds for myself. This is where mixing comes in.
STK: What are your tools?
Ana: I work in Cinema 4D and almost all Adobe programs. I used various print techniques before.
STK: Do you have any other interesting projects you wanna talk about?
Ana: I am part of the project ‘’subtropical cultures’’ (residency program by Tbilisi Photo Festival for Georgian and Abkhazian artists). It is the first time since the war in the 90s – and the frozen ongoing conflict – that Abkhazian and Georgian artists are in contact with each other again, and are doing a show together. I feel this project is quite important and very emotional. I am looking into female writers for this project and preparing a CGI installation.
Besides that, I want to make a DIY documentary and interview series about the young artists’ community in Berlin – friends mostly. This sounds so banal, but there is beauty in banality too, and there are strong reasons why I want to do it. I feel really excited about this project.
STK: How has the pandemic influenced your work so far?
Ana: It is hard for the whole world to see so much pain that this pandemic has caused. Unlike many people, in this critical period, I was very lucky to be in Tbilisi, where I had support. As so many things have changed and have been canceled, I had time to slow down and think more about local Georgian contexts. This locality entered my art practice more. For the first time since many years I participated in some exhibitions in Tbilisi. However, the reading performances that I wanted to do there were complicated by the pandemic. I am also working on Georgian-English translations, which is a wonderful and interesting process for me, as translation is a big part of my general practice.