Monday, July 2, 2018

Artist Nina Maskiell on art, technology and her upcoming residency






There’s no arguing that technology is becoming increasingly enmeshed in our daily lives, but what is debatable is how important this relationship is, and where it will lead. Individuals devour new applications that digitise their social worlds, businesses capitalise on this and entire industries have emerged that both cater to and feed public demand. Issues linked to the privacy of data are consistently making news headlines and there’s the looming question of artificial intelligence: Will AI become a reality? What will happen as a result?

Amid this digital revolution is an artistic movement known as cyborg art. It’s a movement dedicated to using technology to expand the senses and it aims to keep intelligence in the hands of humans rather than machines. Melbourne-based artist Nina Maskiell will join this group of provocateurs for an artist residency at their Barcelona headquarters, where she will create a short film that explores the relationship between humans and technology.

MUSE caught up with Nina in her home studio for a discussion about art, technology and her upcoming residency with the Transpecies Society.  

Featuring Nina Maskiell . Photograph by Aesia Lish. 



In a light-filled room adorned with colourful soft-sculptures reminiscent of inhabitants of a fantastical planet, Nina answered some questions in a pensive yet imaginative manner. When asked about the development of her practice she responded, “during my time at university I experimented with all kinds of mediums and fell in love with fabric and recycled materials. I created soft sculptures and costumes as well as experimented with sound and video art.”

Nina has been captivated by ideas linked to technology and the body since completing her Bachelor of Fine Arts at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in 2016. After initially generating interest as an illustrator in magazines such as Curvy and Illustration Now, Nina’s practice has since expanded to large-scale, multidisciplinary installations.

It was Nina’s interest in new technologies and the future of the body that fostered her artistic relationship with The Transpecies Society. This society, with whom she will do the month-long residency, is made up of artists who fuse art and technology. It was founded by artists Neil Harbisson, Moon Ribas and Manel Muñoz in 2017, who also created the Cyborg Foundation. “I saw him (Neil Harbisson) give a talk at RMIT,” Nina noted, “and was immediately fascinated and started researching,” she divulged. “He has an antenna implanted in his skull that essentially allows him to hear colour.”

Over the course of the residency Nina will create a short film that combines her sound and sculpture work. To source the right equipment needed to bring this project to life, Nina has launched a Pozible campaign. You can take a look at her campaign here which is complete with a video pitch, samples of her work and a list of rewards offered for donations.

Cyborg art is a far-reaching movement that demonstrates how humans, art and even identity politics are being shaped by technology. “Human development and technology are so intertwined,” stated Nina, “so how can we evolve with technology and still remain the masters of our own design?”


Read on for more of the interview...  


1. What pushes you to make new work and try different mediums?

I love the challenge and I really enjoy trying things that I never thought I would do. There's something so satisfying about learning new skills and really pushing yourself in new directions. It's exciting.


2. You began a course in design and then changed to fine arts, what propelled this change in specialisation?
I chose to study design after high school because I thought I might like graphic design and that there would be more job opportunities in it. But I think I always really wanted to study fine arts, so I left design. After a few years travelling and being away from the university environment, I decided to go back to university and finish a Bachelor of Fine Arts. There's a lot of freedom in studying fine arts and you are really encouraged to explore and break away from your habitual practices.

3. What's the biggest challenge you experience in being an artist?
Promoting myself and finding the right people to work with.

4. Do you make your work with a particular audience in mind? Or do you primarily create for yourself?

I definitely create for myself first. But I do consider the audience, I think it’s hard not to. I create with the intention of inspiring others and love being able to bring people into a world that I've created and get so much joy from. I do hope to create work that leaves an impression in people or even be a catalyst for change.

5. Who are your key inspirations?
Bjork for creating a total universe and the people she collaborates with, particularly Andrew Thomas Huang. He is amazing. The illustrator Brian Froud and Jim Henson are definitely childhood favourites. I also love the work of Brian Eno, Yayoi Kusama, Hayao Miyazaki, Lucy McRae and Melbourne artist Cy Gorman.
6. What advice do you have for young artists about to pursue a creative career?
Never stop exploring; trust yourself and your vision; don’t worry about what anyone else is doing and make clear goals along the way, but always be open for new things to steer you in a totally new direction.

http://www.ninamaskiell.com/

http://www.transpeciessociety.com/#!
Top photograph credit: Laura Neumeister (right image only).

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