Interview – Lina Tonev – Belgrade Art Studio Online Residency

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Given the virtual nature of this residency and your exploration of technology in your projects, how do you anticipate collaborating with artists from diverse backgrounds in this online space? How might this digital environment influence or enhance the themes present in your work?

I believe we have to take full advantage of technologies and all the benefits that come with them, such as the opportunity to conduct online meetings. In this online platform I can connect with artists who might not be easy to meet in person, as many of them live in other countries. So, we can easily share how we work; talk about our studios, old and new projects, and be inspired by that. To see how another person is managing to be an artist in his/her way is really motivating for me.

The digital environment significantly influences my work. Thanks to technologies, I can include and work with different types of formats, such as programming code, algorithms, images, text and others.

Considering your intricate exploration of Homo technicus and the intersection of humanity and technology, how does the theme “Artist on Standby” resonate with your artistic practice?

For me “Artist on standby” refers to an artist who is ready and available for immediate action or engagement at the current situation. Nowadays artists have to follow new innovations, in order to not fall behind in their development. They have to be on standby mode and always on the lookout for new materials, art topics, social media or a new technology that will help them stand out and reach out to the audience.

Your projects, “Homo Technicus” and “Homo Technicus vs Homo Sapiens,” showcase a fascinating blend of technology and art. Could you elaborate on how these projects have evolved over time, and what inspired the addition of classical paintings in the latter?

The Homo technicus project, which I initiated six years ago, showcases human organs crafted from computer parts such as the brain, heart, liver, and others. It is primarily a scientific project that symbolizes our profound connection with technology.

For my second project, I aimed to create something vibrant and joyful. I chose to reproduce famous paintings and then incorporate computer parts into the artworks. This project turned out to be an associative venture that stimulates people to think more about art.

“Homo Digitalis” is an interactive game aimed at developing sensory and cognitive skills through art. How do you see this project contributing to the dialogue between technology and art, and what inspired the choice of an educational game format?

Choosing to create a digital educational game felt like the next logical step. My initial projects sparked curiosity about what people see, encouraging guesses about what was depicted in the photographs. Inspired by this interest, I decided to make a game that presents enjoyable facts about art.

The game aims to show how technology and art can blend, opening up new creative possibilities. It serves as a simple yet effective way to bring these two worlds together, offering an engaging and educational experience.

Your dedication to encouraging the love of art from an early age is evident in your workshops. How do you bridge the gap between technology and art in these workshops, and what impact do you hope to make on the participants’ perception of the relationship between the two?

The workshops that I organize are intended for children born after the year 2010. These kids have never experienced life without the Internet — they were born in a world surrounded by technology. They quickly absorb information from the content they encounter online. Surprisingly, many of them are familiar with figures like Mona Lisa, not from traditional sources, but through memes featuring her with a cat or memes about her enigmatic smile.

Bridging the gap between art and technology is possible by presenting information in a way that resonates with them. This means using modern methods like digital games, memes, or other innovative approaches.

Your artistic practice involves a combination of hand-assembled models, photography, and computer programming. How do you balance these diverse elements, and what challenges and rewards do you encounter in creating a cohesive expression of the relationship between humans and technology?

With the combination of these practices, I am searching for the balance between human and technology. The hand-assembled models that I make are intricate representations of my creative vision, meticulously crafted to convey a harmonious blend of artistry and technical precision. Photography captures these models visually, translating their depth into two-dimensional images. This process engages viewers with the fusion of the organic and technological. Computer programming adds the final layer, incorporating digital elements for an interactive experience. Balancing these three techniques and creating the final project is really satisfying to me.

Looking ahead, what are your aspirations for future projects that explore the evolving relationship between humans and technology? Are there specific technological advancements or artistic mediums you are eager to incorporate into your work?

In the foreseeable future, I will continue to explore the theme of the relationship between humans and technologies. At the moment, I have developed a conceptual framework presented through the projects Homo technicus, Homo technicus vs Homo sapiens, and Homo digitalis. My plan is to expand this line by examining human evolution under the influence of innovation. Therefore, I plan to incorporate more programming languages and, why not, artificial intelligence.