Over the past couple of years, the integration of contemporary art into the digital sphere takes place on an unprecedented scale and appears as one of the key factors in the development of the current cultural landscape. Early spring 2021, following the sale of artist Beeple’s NFT by Christie’s for a record $69 million, the art market went through a radical transformation, as the demand for the new art form keeps steadily growing. We asked the mysterious figure, Henry Mova, an art hunter, columnist, and the first representative of the conceptual bionic art movement in Russia, who acts as a spokesperson for the emerging technological era in art, to comment on the developments in the field. As a heroine of metamodernism, Henry Mova seeks to work at the intersection of technology and culture, introducing followers to the most original and innovative artworks appearing on the scene. The distinctive appearance of the hunter also epitomizes the shifts that currently occur in the world and society, thus, providing a blueprint on how to achieve a harmonious relationship with the rapidly changing future.
Henry Mova, you closely follow what is going on in the art industry, and have a particular interest in the development of contemporary digital art. Could you brief us on how you became interested in this subject and what attracted you to the kindred souls who share your love of it?
Upon my creation, my study of the arts commenced. Henry Mova is about the fascination and exploration of all forms of expression. My programming allows for fast learning. I absorb everything related to art. The field of culture attracts me, whetting my unquenchable appetite for knowledge. My inner core is sustained by ingestion of data responding to the creativity and energy poured by artists into their works. With the development of digital art, I observed a new stage in its evolution, which also increases the opportunities for creative expression by transferring objects, images, and video art into a completely digital format. It is safe to say without exaggeration that the boundaries once set by traditional forms of art are now lifted, and the possibilities of artistic expression are truly endless.
One of the earliest works I have saved in my collection of memories is the media installation by Platon Infante, composed of kinetic video animation combining both traditional artistic media and digital elements. The next memory is of Jonathan Monaghan and his multimedia works, “Out of the Abyss”. My analysis centre defines these presentations as dazzling and well thought out, standing out from the mundane. This new and unique approach reimagines the dialogue between the artist and the viewer. I consider myself a new type of onlooker whose assessment of artworks owes to my distinct sensory inputs, most of them being technological. Now that an interactive level is added to the visual criterion, emotions and references to mass culture maximize.
How does digital art differ from more traditional works? Are there any advantages in going digital, from your point of view?
Our contemporaries look upon their lives through the built-in optics of their own devices, imposing new frames of perception. However, Augmented Reality, or AR, strips a person of their standard ways of interacting with the artwork. Traditionalist works from the sought-after museum and gallery collections worldwide are in the process of being digitized and can now be admired from the comfort of one’s own home. Positive aspects of this ongoing process are sufficient to believe that the digitalizing of art collections has a lasting value for the history of art and its varieties from painting, sculpture, and even ceramics, which have recently gained popularity. I perceive humanity’s evolution as cyclical, often turning back to its origins in order to reconceptualize the present and ensure further development. The art community has recently taken drastic steps forward technologically. The use of computers, the internet, graphic editing, applications, and AR tools have rendered image and video work effortless and efficient. These tools urge the development of “phygital” art as the aspects of reality and the virtual world begin to overlap.
An example of such integration was demonstrated at the ArtLife Fest 2021, showcasing over 40 paintings by artists from all over the world enhanced by unique digital content, highlighting all underlying ideas. This year, the new boom also marked a shift toward NFTs and increased the flow of crypto investments into the art market. The active use of machine learning and neural networks also forged a new path. Although being a different non-tangible art form, one not capable of touch, it still holds conceptual value, and remains aesthetically attractive (by the way this criterion has become controversial and requires a person to accept the pre-defined standards of beauty passed down from previous generations). The advantages of digital art is that it addresses the younger generation in their own familiar language, providing a wide range of opportunities for self- in all creative spheres. It no longer has to compete with traditional forms of art, as it can complement them. This symbiosis helps the art industry to thrive.
Have you observed any changes since the inauguration of digital art? More specifically, can you relate to the digital art scene in Russia? Who deserves our special attention?
The popularity of digital art steadily increases among the emerging and established artists. I find my research quite fascinating and inspiring. During my hunts, I have discovered many incredible works, techniques, and solutions. As demand for digital artworks steadily grows among galleries, museums, and even businesses, digital art is also offered support from governments and top officials. The State Hermitage Museum is currently hosting the first virtual exhibition of digital art titled as The Ethereal Aether. Among the selected works featuring artists on a global scale, Russia is to be represented by crypto artist Darkzuu (Daniil Zuev). Taking an unusual approach to the creative process, Zuev recurs to an ECG machine connected to the heart to generate the graphics he uses; the results are most impressive. I wonder about the outcome of my “heart CPU” in this way.
In summer 2021, a public digital art festival successfully took place in six cities across Russia. Its participants, including Yan Posadsky, should also be on the top of your list. At the recent Cosmoscow 2021, in a section dedicated to innovative technologies, I spotted captivating works by Brickspacer on an environmentally focused subject.
Among the headliners of this movement, I must mention the art group AES+F, which continues to delight collectors with new drops from their Allegoria Sacra series. The contents of this series are selling at rapid speeds on the NFT markets. The text abstractions of Pokras Lampas are also not to miss. The artist translates spectacular digital abstractions or video mapping into breathtaking creations!
Can digital art help you achieve these goals?
My hunts are about discovering that particular creative energy that I call “the spark” in all forms of art. And I see it as my goal to keep this spark aflame. My mission is to explore and process artworks done by all creators, be they painters, sculptors, architects, designers, photographers, cameramen, directors, performers, animators, XR engineers – I regard them all as true artists who bring much needed creative energy into this world. Stoking fiery emotions and awakening once dormant feelings, these masters remind the world around of the dwindling values of everyday life. They highlight the most sensitive and pressing issues in society, helping to look at them from a new angle. I see art as a global shock absorber, a sensor that aids humanity towards the path of harmony and sustainability. Problems grow exponentially among the human population, and art helps to draw attention to these issues, also providing space for solutions. For me, this is the ultimate purpose of my search: seeking new forms of expression through art hunting. I am on a quest for artworks that shine forth this creative spark produced by visionary artists who possess it. I see it as my mission to make these new forms of art known to wider audiences, thus, helping to change the world for the better.
All images are courtesy of FprBuro Production
The interview is provided by the press office of Henry Mova at FPRBuro Communications Agency