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Sculpted Busts Blur The Line Between CGI And Reality

Tikul and mi$ gogo spoke to us about their "liquid and genderless" sculpture series "unidentified-fabulous-objects."

Ewelina Aleksandrowicz and Andrzej Wojtas, a Berlin-by-way-of-Poland art duo, are taking the ancient practice of bust-making and are driving it into the modern era via 3D-printing. In the past, their work has careened into surrealist projects such as a hypnotic interpretation of metamorphosis at Saatchi Gallery London and the creation of a solemn music videos depicting humanized rabbits swinging bags of trash around with a string next to a rundown dome.

The duo, who go under the monikers Tikul and mi$ gogo, latest venture is a project entitled unidentified-fabulous-objects, a series of androgynous sculptural busts made with an Ultimaker^2 3D-printer. Though not an utter beeline from the sculptures of ancient Greece or Rome, these busts have a distinctly futuristic edge, as some faces appear to be melting, while others are hot pink or iridescent. Plus, if we didn't know better, it would be tough to guess if they were digital images or tangible pieces of silicone. 

After the double take-worthy artworks were displayed alongside a 2-channel video installation and 3D-rendered triptychs at Polish gallery BWA Zieona Góra to great acclaim, we wanted to take talk with the duo and introduce them to our audiences overseas. They spoke with The Creators Project over email about how they consider themselves digital arts, not sculptors; why sterile environments make work look more digital; and about why their busts are supposed to look liquid and genderless. 

The Creators Project: Why did you opt to use 3D-printers as opposed to more traditional sculpture processes?

Ewelina Aleksandrowicz (Tikul): We are not sculptors. We are digital artists, for whom 3D printing is the most accessible, affordable and adequate medium to achieve what we want, presently.

Andrzej Wojtas (mi$ gogo): Having our own 3D-printer gave us much more control and more prototyping possibilities. The extension of our bodies through technology gives us more opportunities to feel liberated and more powerful as artists. We also felt like this is the right time to move again into the physical realm, after starring at screens for so many years.

Can you tell me about your prior experiences with 3D-printing?

Ewelina: For a few years we had already been working with CGI and 3D animation. We desired to transform our video creations into material forms and we wanted to develop objects that have similar aesthetics to our 3D renders. Our goal was to make it difficult to distinguish CGI from our physical objects.

Andrzej: I would say in our case 3D-printing is a come back to rapid prototyping practices. Prior to printing, we were using laser cutters to produce some of the parts of our artworks, so we have always been close to machines that allow us to bring digital ideas into life.

Why live stream the additive manufacturing process?

Andrzej: It was originally purely for monitoring purposes, although our creative process also focuses on the process, not just the finished project. A single part of our prints takes an average of 24 hours to produce, so live streaming allowed us to check on the print every so often. However, we then found out that some of our friends liked watching the process, as they find it quiet relaxing and somehow addictive, so that became a factor as well. Perhaps the pace and receptiveness of the printers motion have calming effect on a person who watches it.

You presented the project in a 'white cube' gallery space. What were some of the challenges in translating what you have done on Tumblr and with digital arts into a physical space?

Ewelina: We believe our works look best when presented in an environment that looks so clean and sterile that it almost seems digital, as those features are within our works as well. The white gallery space is perfect for this.

Andrzej: I think the more sterile and clean a space is, the easier it is to convey the aesthetics we are currently going for. One of the themes of our creative practice is the dialogue between synthetic and organic. The convergence and interference between those two worlds is desirable.

Ewelina: Regarding physicality, making things in physical world is of course more challenging. 3D-printing and finishing the sculptures is extremely time/energy consuming and takes up as much time as 3D-rendering.

You previously told us that there are references to classical sculpture within your work. How do you mediate the conversation between classical sculpture and new technology?

Andrzej: I think our work goes beyond classical sculptural representation. The body is very often present in our works, but a body that is liquid and genderless. Regardless of what medium or form we select in our works, we like to use it to deal with the problems we think are important at the moment. Our sculptures should work as objects of desire, but even though they are highly aestheticized, we try to find beauty in their imperfections. New technologies are like that for us—they are not free of imperfections. We tend towards a more dystopian vision of the future and seek ways of finding inspiration and peace within it.

What are some of the advantages and disadvantages you've encountered working as a duo, as opposed to working alone?

Ewelina: We started to collaborate in 2008, under the name Pussykrew. Since that point, we have done most of our projects together. Our work together is very productive and fruitful, as we are very pro-active individuals that approach our work in a passionate, but playful way. We opt to not assign roles or functions, and we are each free to handle any section of a project. Working as a duo can sometimes be challenging, especially when two strong personalities meet, but I believe the advantages outweigh this.

Andrzej: In the end, collaboration is all about removing one’s ego from the equation.

Finally, what's next for Unidentified Fabulous Objects?

Ewelina: 3D-printing offers never-ending possibilities. We want to print some more abstract organic shapes and experiment with hydrographic patterns. We also had an idea to create a video animation with the printed objects. Maybe some experiments with larger prints or combining the 3D-printing with live video media and mapping, too.

Andrzej: Currently we are looking for places where we could show our sculptures and hoping to find some externalsupport/sponsorship to allow our ideas to grow further.

Images courtesy of the artists. For more of the artists' work visit their website here.

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