Q) Within your works, the binary between organic and inorganic is present. How does this relationship operate vis-a-vis and within your understanding of society?
Nicolas: Recently, I have focused my research on notions of simulation, indexicality, and artificial intelligence. By molding and casting rocks, I create an indexical relationship between the copy and the “real” object. The object is distantly familiar, but it exists at the limits of human experience. In Simulation and Simulacra, Baudrillard defines the “hyperreal,” which refers to a simulation that transcends the original to become itself more “real” than the original. Through the simulation of rocks, I attempt to create simulacra that reference the hyperreal. I then insert electronic circuits to animate the structures, further anthropomorphizing these objects, giving them an individual character and suggesting an internal intelligence.
Q) How does your art provide the ability to shift consciousness?
Anna: I think that the shifting of consciousness arises in the conflation of concepts of interior and exterior, real and fictional, absent and present, organic and artificial, or sacred and profane. By blurring the boundaries between these categories, the viewer is pushed to question any inherent identity therein. My work is heavily influenced by theorist Jane Bennett’s conception of “enchantment,” which is an experience of being “struck and shaken by the extraordinary that lives amid the familiar and the everyday.” Through the subversion of familiar forms and objects, then, I aim to reinvigorate these sites of wonder in daily life, which I consider tantamount to shifting consciousness.
Q) You’ve done installations, videos, and performance art. What artistic medium do you feel possesses the best capacity for audience engagement and consciousness expansion?
Nicolas: Every medium holds the potential to fully engage the viewer and bring them to another level of awareness. In a contemporary context in particular, the democratization of tools and techniques has allowed artists to work in a variety of different media. Rather than being tied to paint on a canvas, for example, artists can instead begin with their concept or idea and then select the most appropriate medium to express it. With this in mind, I wouldn’t say that one medium is better than another—it differs from project to project.
Q) Where do you see your practice expanding towards in the future?
Anna: Over the past several months, I have become very interested in working within virtual space, at times incorporating it into sculpture. I am currently working on How to Explain Love to a Tape Measure (Eyler), a series of machinima vignettes featuring flexible, geometric forms interacting within the Second Life world. Evoking at once the nature documentary and peep show, HELTM repurposes existing environments, animations, and models from Second Life, and in so doing subverts expectations of normative identity to open up a dialogue surrounding intimacy within virtual environments. Reflecting the abundance of “adult” themed animations, the videos primarily feature sexual encounters. By animating unexpected subjects, however, HELTM verges on the uncanny, straddling the line between reality and fiction, humour and sadness, beauty and sublimity. I hope to expand this project by creating an accessible space within the Second Life environment where individuals can interact with these geometric bodies in real time.
Nicolas: Likewise, I have also been working with computer-generated imagery, continuing with notions of simulation and simulacra within virtual environments. I have become very interested in the ontological nature of virtual spaces. In my upcoming work, physical space and substance will be conflated with their virtual counterparts, with structural forms mimicking digital space and vice versa.
Q) How has the history of art influenced your practice? Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Nicolas and Anna: We are both influenced by American Minimalism, including artists Donald Judd and Eva Hesse. Judd’s use of architectural forms as well as the resulting ambiguity about the work being seen as sculptural is of particular interest. Meanwhile, Hesse’s influence stems from her investment of personal/psychological content into Minimalist form. Similarly, the 1970s Mono-Ha movement has been very inspiring in its combination of organic and industrial materials.
Outside of an art historical context, speculative fiction plays a large role in our work. Formally, many of our sculptures/installations have a distinct science fiction aesthetic, combining austere geometric structures with Plexiglas, electronic indicators, and concrete. On a conceptual level, we are both invested in imagined futures: in spaces and objects that hover between reality and fiction. In our imaginings of the future we also examine the past, with anthropological material, particularly as it relates to notions of the sacred, recurring in our individual and collaborative practices.