Share Prize interview: Ernesto Klar


- Could you tell us about how you came to be interested in media art?

It happened while I was working as a musician in the nineties. At the time I was primarily composing and performing experimental music with my own chamber group (the Klaresque Ensemble). Towards the end of the nineties, I started to explore computer music, and it was then that I became very interested in the interactive, participatory, and generative capacities of digital technologies. I gradually stopped writing and performing music, and resituated my practice from performance-oriented works to installation-based works.

- Luzes relacionais takes inspiration from the work and interests of Brazilian artist Lygia Clark. At the same time I feel it develops your own artistic style, which we saw in you work Parallel Convergences, where the key element was an attempt to render the invisible visible and interactive. What do you think?
The attempt to reveal and transform that which is imperceptible has been a constant in
my work for some time now. It is an exploration that started in my musical work before I shifted towards new media art. “Luzes relacionais” continues that exploration in the way it challenges traditional models of perception, objecthood, and participation. But it is the latter that this artwork considers in more depth than previous works of mine. It explores the ways in which the individual and expressive human subject occupies a shifting and variable space in relation to others. Multiple viewers penetrate and interact with its three-dimensional light-space. What unfolds, then, is a collective and participatory expression of space. “Luzes relacionais” emphasizes our relationship with what Lygia Clark called the expressional-organic character of space. This is why the piece is a tribute to Lygia’s aesthetic inquiry, and particularly to her conception of the “organic line”. Now, besides the intuitive, sensuous, and playful nature of the interactive element, the artwork also functions as an autonomous entity without the interactions of spectators. Both randomly and at preset intervals, the system abruptly subverts the interactions of spectators in order to establish its own dialogue with space (and its occupants) by morphing sequences of light forms. The aforementioned expressional-organic character of space swiftly adopts a rather mathematical-synthetic quality. Suddenly, participants are reminded that the artwork has autonomy, and that the machine behind the system presides over the collective experience. Any sense of empowerment on the side of participants quickly dissipates, potentially coming back, whenever the system returns to its responsive mode.

- Your works always use minimal elements, such as light, lines, glitch music and dark space. What do you want to communicate with this audio-visual language stripped to the bone?
As mentioned before, I am interested in the threshold between the perceptible and the
imperceptible, and particularly, in the poetic potential of revealing and transforming that threshold. Through a subtle and yet at times radical manipulation of light, sound, and space, my artworks aim to frame experiences in which participants engage in perceptual immediacy through their bodily, manipulatory, and behavioral activity. Light is an ideal medium to explore this threshold, since it is what enables us to make sense of the three-dimensional world that surrounds us. And dark spaces end up being ideal presentation scenarios for my pieces, since they allow for a heightened perception towards the phenomena taking place within them. Sound too, from an aural perspective, is very important for similar reasons. In my audio-visual installations, I work primarily with noise, whether computer-generated or analog, along with other sound synthesis techniques and sound spatialization techniques. Space, visuals, and sound are constantly informing each other throughout my creative process – and they usually have a direct relationship in the resulting works. I should mention that I do not call my use of sound “glitch music”. I am actually a fan of this style of music – don’t get me wrong – but I do not think the way I work with sound relates much to it, or even music in a more general sense. And lastly, my preference for what might be considered an austere visual aesthetic with a grayscale palette emerges spontaneously throughout my creative process.