Slovenian born visual artist Valerie Wolf Gang, works in the international art scene, using new media technology as her main source of inspiration and production of multimedia installation artworks. Wolf Gang‘s works focus on the ideas behind human experiences such as aspects of consciousness and a reflection of social conflicts arising from political regulations and constraints. She mainly explores the relationship between man and technology, and is inspired by the connection between living and inanimate nature and the multifaceted nature of human character. Wolf Gang’s works are often interactive and therefore create a site specific performance and interaction between the art piece and the observer. She works as a multimedia artist and film director, using different technologies and approaches to construct video installations, new media works and art films. Combination of digital components and physical materiality play an important role in her expression of the storytelling narrative. In her words, “digital and material components represent the mind and the body, which need to be balanced in order to create a perfect harmony”.
Exclusive Interview with Valerie Wolf Gang-Visual Artist
NY Glam: What projects are you currently working on?
Now I am at an artist residency stay in New York City. I have been here for a month and in the next weeks I will finish my creative retreat and return back to Europe. I usually apply to some artist residency program at least once a year, so I change the surroundings to get new inspiration and to travel to some places I have not been before. In addition, I really enjoy international collaborations and meeting different communities with versatile cultural backgrounds. I think that influences my art a lot and gives me a fresh new dose of inspiration. “When was the last time you did something for the first time?” That quote is my source of inspiration. Ever since I was a child, I have always been a very curious person, trying new things and observing every detail happening around me. That is probably also a reason why I started using camera as my main tool of channeling my creativity. I love to record random moments and take photos, which I treat as moments in time that forever remain captured in my hands. Later on, I use the materials to construct new works of art; often I mix it with my passion for poetry or new media technology. I love to read about new achievements or discoveries in science and often they inspire me to create works of art that include a strong connection between science and art. This combination for me is magical.
At the moment I am working on the production of a new complex art piece involving augmented reality technology and interactive body sensors; the working title for it is “Love Machine”. I collaborate with an interaction designer Žiga Pavlovič and Kreator Lab Maribor.
Beside the project “Love Machine” I am also working on several other art pieces, they are all in different stages of production. In January I will exhibit already produced interesting interactive installation “David’s Gaze” in Cankarjev Dom Gallery, which I created together with Miha Godec, and in which the user’s brainwaves interactively influence the narrative inside virtual reality world. In October 2020 I will have a big installation at the World Museum in Vienna (Weltmuseum Wien) and at the moment I am preparing detailed sketches, production budget and technical rider, as well as editing sounds, videos and other materials which are going to be part of the installation.
I am also collaborating with several other institutions and organizations; I’m a professional associate of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, working on a three year project Geneology of Amnesia; I was recently invited to become part of the Hive Organization in France, a base camp for exploring the future and researching the sustainable development connected with art and science intersection; I run a research lab “UV Arthouse” which is producing experimental films, video installations and researching the field of new media technology and interactive multimedia works; I collaborate with School of Arts University of Nova Gorica where I teach a class “Experimental form” working with BA and MA students from different modules, such as photography, film, new media, animation and contemporary art practices. My schedule is busy and versatile, but I love what I do, so I do it with passion. I believe experimental form is essential for the development of every creative person: let it be arts, business, science or any other field. We need to be daring and try new things in order to get fresh new dose of inspiration.
NY Glam: What makes an artwork great for you? Are there certain qualities that make an artwork better for you?
The most important thing in an artwork is an artist statement and the initial idea, which started the whole process of the creation: it can be a painting, an installation, a sculpture, a film, a dance, musical piece or any other art field. I do not limit myself to any specific style, but I love to explore and see different genres, different artists, museums, galleries, performances. For example, in my teenage years I have never been a part of any music style group: it was very popular to be an “emo” or “a rocker” or something like that when I was a teenager, but I never wanted to declare myself as being “just that”. I always kept my ears (and fashion preferences) open for different music genres. The same principles I keep open for versatile artworks and art fields.
Sometimes I am impressed by very simple and minimalistic artworks, which are straight to the point, but sometimes I am fascinated by big and complex art pieces. It all comes down to the initial idea and the production of the artwork. One thing I always notice is the quality of the production and the details which have to reach minimal technical and craft standards (for example in video installations I am disturbed if I notice the codec for exporting of the video is not used properly – that happens often if the artist has the lack of codec knowledge), but other than that I think the concept of an artwork is something which is the most important element for me and what makes the whole piece stand out.
NY Glam: As a visual artist, working with new media, what is the most important aspect of producing an artwork?
One thing, which is often not discussed a lot, is the budget. It is hard to get a fair and sufficient budget, especially if you are at the beginning of your career. It is important to get to know the system and the resources where you can apply for funding of your art practice. I had many struggles at the beginning, because I simply did not know what to do in order to produce my artistic ideas and pay for my expenses. Later on, I have learned where to get the funding; I started to collaborate with different organizations, institutions and networks, and started to apply to international open calls. I always check, of course, if the open call (for production of an artwork or artist residency) offers a fair artist fee and pays for all of the expenses, and then I make the application. There is often a lot of paperwork, but I am now used to it. It is always important to have an updated portfolio document somewhere nearby and other important documents for applications. It all helps to get you funding to practice your art production and earn enough so it is the main source of a sufficient income.
The other important ingredient beside money is, of course, the inspiration. It gives you motivation to work passionately on your projects and constantly produce fresh new ideas to continue your personal and professional development as an artist. Sometimes it is difficult to get an inspiration, but my advice is to travel, meet new people, start some new hobbies and constantly learn new skills. Those things will keep your mind busy and give you some fresh creative energy and inspiration for new works of art.
NY Glam: Top 3 favorite projects that you have been involved in?
Favorite? Hmm, each of my projects has a very special place in my heart. However, if I have to point out three of them I would say firstly “Personal Space Data Collection, Vol. 1” and “Wet Dreams”. Aksioma – Institute for Contemporary Art, Ljubljana, produced them both and I enjoyed a collaboration with them. In the first artwork “Personal Space Data Collection, Vol. 1” I was recording all the sounds of my personal space for a couple of months and created a piano-like object on which the visitors of the gallery could play and create new soundscapes using my personal space. During the production of the project, I have learned a lot about the relationships, which I have with my family, friends, business associates and myself. I have started to be attentive to the things we talk about; let it be gossip or some other things which we do almost unaware, but can influence someone’s life. Therefore, while I was doing the production for the project I have realized how many harmful things we often say in our life and how many things are actually kept a secret, especially in a business world. All of these realizations made me reflect on my life and I think it changed me as a person.
The other one, a piece titled “Wet Dreams” is about the hidden places of the internet and interactions we have with strangers. I built an aquarium in which there are two computer screens facing each other with a webcam, connecting constantly two random strangers on online video chatrooms. As observers of the artwork, we can listen to these conversations and become “big brothers”. It is also a social experiment and the reactions of the gallery visitors are important factors. They could interact with the people inside the aquarium or just be secret stalkers. Most of the people choose to be just secret stalkers, which tells me a lot about the nature of people and the motivation of our society. We all want to know every detail, but do not want to put ourselves in the spotlight. Interesting, but not surprising, isn’t it?
Moreover, the third one would definitely be a project “Fluid” where I was teaching the artificial intelligence to be creative and write poetry. It choose the topic of healthy lifestyle and wrote a poetry about it; while teaching the machine to do that, I did a lot of research about the topic and started to follow the healthy lifestyle recommendations, just for fun at first, and of course also to test out some ideas. It changed my life completely; in the last year, I have lost more than 100 pounds and transformed physically and mentally. I think I have become a completely different person in a last year and I am still learning how to accept the new me. It has been a real roller coaster of emotions and changes in my personal life, but it is all going in a positive direction, which makes me happy and thankful about everything in my life.
NY Glam: Do you express yourself creatively in any other ways?
I love writing poetry and doing short random home videos, diary format style. It is for personal use only (at least for now – and some of my random daily moments I share on Instagram Stories), but it keeps my mind flowing and while doing it I often get new ideas for the projects.
Back at my student years, I began my studies with a classic film education: film directing. It is still something I enjoy doing and perhaps in the next years I go back to the classic film production. I have various film script ideas and some drafts on my shelves and would be happy to one day produce them.
NY Glam: What advice would you give to someone who wants to have a career in visual arts?
In the last year, I started a habit of morning exercising, especially I started to enjoy running and often during my runs, I brainstorm a lot and come up with some totally unexpected ideas which I later use for the development of a new project. My advice for someone starting or developing a career in visual arts would be to write down as many ideas as possible and as often as possible. In addition, I would suggest doing many physical exercises (especially in the morning) because this profession often requires a lot of sitting (computer work, painting, sculpturing, and sitting behind desk in general…). Healthy fitness, brings you to healthier mental health and gives you more space to reflect on new ideas and inspirations.
Beside health and good fitness condition, I would like to point out a great focus on learning good organizational skills! I work as a freelance artist; therefore, it is important for me that I plan at least one year in advance.
NY Glam: What can we expect from you in 2020?
It is going to be another busy year, especially the second half of it. In the first three months, I have some production planning ahead and also some personal changes I need to make because of my recent lifestyle changes. Therefore, I would say that in 2020 expect some new exhibitions, premiere of new artworks that are now in the production, and many other interesting activities, especially in the intersection of science and art. If there will be some extra time left (I am worried about that actually!) I will also continue with the writing of my PhD research in the field of augmented reality.
NY Glam: Where can everyone keep up with you to learn more? …social media…website
You can follow my website: valeriewolfgang.com. My Instagram: valeriewolfgang
You are welcome to the openings of my exhibitions. The first exhibition opening is already happening on 20th of January 2020 at Cankarjev Dom Gallery Ljubljana in Slovenia. I will be present at the opening, so see you there.