Karina Smigla-Bobinski is a true interdisciplinary artist. Working with interactive, kinetic, physical and sculptural media alongside oil painting and digital display, she has enjoyed considerable success across five continents with work such as Ada and, more recently, as part of DiBari's "dream team" innovation collective.
We caught up with Karina just after her keynote at Berlin's ReTune Conference "Inside The Mirror".
What were you talking about at Retune?
KS-B: I talked about my works ADA, ALIAS and SIMULACRA in the context of mirrors and reflection.
ADA - analog interactive installation / kinetic sculpture / post-digital drawing machine at FACT Fundation in Liverpool
Your work covers a range of media audio, light, video, water. Was this intentional did you always intend to cover a range of different media as an artist, and do you embrace or shun the concept of "multi-media"?
KS-B: I learned a classical and modern art techniques, ranging from painting and drawing to interactive and mixed-reality technique in the form of installations, objects, in-situ and online art projects, art interventions or multimedia theatre. This leaves me free to use that technique that suites for a project the best. I take that technique that can transport my intention/idea the best way. Also, I'm not afraid to mix or to interchange them. I like unorthodox mixtures, that lead to new, intriguing solutions.
How important is public interaction in your work?
KS-B: The classical, traditional way of viewing art is to go to gallery and look. We are constantly warned: Do not touch! The participation is confined to looking and nothing else. All reactions occur inside the viewers’ head. The result is the divide between the two.
Interactivity in art stands out as a way to connect with the audience. This contact between art and the public creates a relationship that personally involves the viewer in the project. When we talk about interactivity, we imagine it as a digitally-created, non-physically-connected experience where computers and electronics have very often been forced into the foreground. The best part of interactive art installations is when you can use your body, which then turns you into a analog part of the (post-digital) art piece.
Nicholas Negroponte wrote already in 1998 in The Wired Magazine under the title "Beyond Digital" that "the technology, is already beginning to be taken for granted, and its connotation will become tomorrow's commercial and cultural compost for new ideas. Like air and drinking water, being digital will be noticed only by its absence, not its presence. The decades ahead will be a period of comprehending biotech, mastering nature, and realizing extraterrestrial travel, with DNA computers, microrobots, and nanotechnologies the main characters on the technological stage. Computers as we know them today will a) be boring, and b) disappear into things that are first and foremost something else: smart nails, self-cleaning shirts, driverless cars, therapeutic Barbie dolls, intelligent doorknobs that let the Federal Express man in and Fido out, but not 10 other dogs back in. Computers will be a sweeping yet invisible part of our everyday lives: We'll live in them, wear them, even eat them."
For example, ADA, as a post-digital art "creature", does not need programming, because it is an analogue interactive kinetic sculpture, post-digital drawing machine resembling a molecular hybrid, such as a one from nano biotechnology. It developes the same rotating silicon-carbon-hybrids, midget tools, miniature machines able to generate simple structures.
Similarly, with my other works, it is very important for me that the entrance into the practical experience of art is possible for everyone and that visitors may decide how far they dip into the art experience according to their ability or will. I like the fact that visitors are able to work with the intuition in my installations, and use their body to explain how they work. As ADA is put in action by visitors, she would fabricate a composition of lines and points which are incalculable in their intensity and expression. By exerting control on ADA, visitors fall into some kind of a trance as they try to govern its drawing path. It is a good feeling of having created a piece of art that is autonomous, but that it would not be complete without visitors. Within the artwork-space-people relation, visitors are obliged to respond. That was my intention when I built ADA for the first time, but the reality got beyond my wildest dreams.