To celebrate their two-year anniversary, Nassima Landau Art Foundation is staging a Unit London take-over of their Tel Aviv art space. The exhibition features a total of 22 artists from around the world, on view until the 23rd of December 2022.
We had the opportunity to ask Iskra Velitchkova a few questions on her new series, Svëtlo, which is part of the expansive group exhibition on display.
Svëtlo, a Generative art series, is an intimate meditation on light, colour, form and scale, exploring how these properties allude to bigger forces of nature and can evoke profound moments in life.
Although static, the luminosity integral to these works imbue them with a sense of dynamism and the spherical objects depicted seem almost tangible.
Collectors of these works will also be given a unique physical print.
What are your feelings toward the integral role that randomness plays in your generative work?
This is, for me, the core of this practice or movement. Generative art has something very different from other art movements. In Generative art we explore with a huge lack of control. It sometimes feels like some kind of a divine power on the other side. We guide the machine but then it brings an expanded outcome from our initial instruction. It becomes a dialogue in the form of a loop, where randomness is the guiding force. Dealing with this constant redirection allows the process to create the conditions for new things to emerge. What I like most about this process, and what is actually the basis of my own practice, is to play with the largest possible range of randomness. It is there where I found the most interesting happening. It feels almost magical when given a few –purely geometric and rational– orders, the system brings to life reminiscences of the real world. Organic shapes that remind us of particular elements from nature for instance. And this opens to me a very powerful question: are we in front of a new source of information? Will someday the machines be able to decipher some of the mysteries in nature? In any case, art is a powerful tool to establish this conversation. I feel grateful and small imagining where we are potentially heading to.
Do you feel that your freedom or creative licence is in any way compromised by your methodologies? Or do you feel like generative mechanics heighten and extend your capabilities?
I feel Generative art is way beyond the technology we use. As many times in history, technology becomes the enabler to unlock new paradigms. Today, we are taking advantage of the new –unprecedented– technological capacities to keep building on what the pioneers started the last century. I believe all life is about information. We are constantly discovering new sources of it, and Generative art is basically building in this direction. Once we all master the tools we have today, once we establish the right questions, the art we will be able to make will be beyond any methodology, and will serve, as art has been serving for ages, with no other purpose than bringing meaning and beauty to our lives. Digital or physical, it transcends the means.
Iskra Velitchkova, Svëtlo i, 2022, digital work, 5760 × 5760px.
Would you articulate this series as an experimentation with scale and its impact on shape? Svëtlo iii, for instance, is a more zoomed out, holistic rendering of the sphere, generating a very different feel to the other, arguably more, intimate works.
It’s exactly about that. Playing with scales, rotations and line widths, makes the system evolve from (and to) very different moods and emotions. The whole collection pretends to be quite subtle and discreet. I pretend to give as much power to the machine as I can and observe where it drives me and the viewer. Even if we end up in a place with no meaning, which maybe is actually what intimacy is all about!
The shapes in this series are so clearly delineated that they are almost tangible, with a palpable fluorescent glow; was this your aim when writing the code?
It depends on the piece. Svëtlo i is clearly delineated. Others like Svëtlo ii or iii play actually with the opposite. They feel almost broken, where this fluorescent glow that you mention blurs the boundaries between the shape and the background. In all cases, the definition of the shapes depends on the scale and the amount of lines. Almost like the way a camera works. The focus and the way we use it becomes a creative element to stress elements on the frame.
Do you see this series as a meditation on texture at all? Or is your focus here solely on light, colour and depth?
Svëtlo has a subtle texture, but it’s not the main component. It is precisely the game of colour and light that is the core exploration. I find it very interesting how digital works allow us to get lost into the vast complexity of lines and overlaps that the screen can process. A kind of perfection that we are not used to in real life, which becomes interesting to explore. I actually always begin with an initial palette which gets completely corrupted by the mess of pixels that emerge from the chaos of the system.
Iskra Velitchkova, Svëtlo ii, 2022, digital work, 5760 × 5760px.
In previous work you have explored movement and velocity, what drew you towards static dynamics in this project?
The force of the light in this project, even in its static form, gives me this sense of dynamics. It’s almost like witnessing a supernova for me. The way all those moments in life that shake us, that move and scare us –that moment just before you fall in love– this contained light force that emanates from some of them, it almost hurt me in the same way a dream I have had several times where a strong light eclipsed and vanished in a very oniric way some of my childhood memories. I still don’t know the meaning of that dream, but Svëtlo feels very personal when connecting it to the dream.
Iskra Velitchkova, Svëtlo iv, 2022, digital work, 5760 × 5760px.
How does this new series, if at all, relate to your previous work? Do you see it as a natural progression of your practice or do your influences here differ in any way from your past projects?
As I mentioned before, I am fascinated with the dialogue we are establishing with machines and how it affects the way we observe nature. My works are usually quite connected with organic shapes and moods. Svëtlo, which means bright in Bulgarian, goes in this direction. It’s a study of colour and light, and how their union alludes to bigger forces. I mean, nature is everything around. It is the forces that connect us, the engines that make us get in love, hate, miss. And in essence, as an artist, I feel as a spectator of what the system can tell me about these phenomena. About me, and about us.
Are there any artists or historical movements which influence your work? Looking at this series one could be reminded of Dan Flavin’s luminous sculptural work.
I personally don’t like to include direct influences to my work. It would always feel like a bad performance compared to the original. I also sometimes feel overwhelmed by the huge heritage we have and I find it difficult to find new spaces when I am exposed to it.
However, mostly if we talk about Generative art, which is sometimes inherent to the digital, we are all, consciously or not, extremely influenced by the masters of the last century. Our elements are geometric shapes because this is the way machines process the information. It’s based on pixels. And it’s impossible not to be connected with what Bauhaus introduced for instance. Or suprematists, or Dadaists. Their mastery of performing with minimal elements.
Personally, I find much inspiration in the lives of artists from the past. From painters to musicians, writers or film makers. The way they would see the world, the way they would break the rules and the way they would teach us to be brave enough to create new realms is what I take as the best inspiration. Alma Mahler, Andrei Tarkovsky, Kazimir Malevich, Salvador Dalí, or why not, The Beatles, are all great examples of the rich legacy we can learn from.
Iskra Velitchkova (b. 1988) is a Bulgarian self-taught artist who lives and works in Madrid. With a focus on the interplay between machines and humans, her works speak to the limitations of the human condition in contrast to the constant evolution of new technologies. Velitchkova’s practice is influenced by Balkan and Mediterranean culture, while exploring the artificial intelligence industry in tandem with the nuances of artistic process. From an art-historical perspective, her works are grounded in both abstraction and figuration, while she highlights the slippages between two different modes of communication: language processed by the computer and language transmitted verbally between humans.