Friday, October 1, 2010

Surfing the Wind: Q&A with Zilvinas Kempinas in today's National Post

I've been a fan of Zilvinas Kempinas' work for a couple of years now, so I was excited to hear that he would be showing one of his large, partially-floating sculptures at Nuit Blanche. Today, my Q&A with the artist is out in the National Post. An excerpt:

Q You usually make your sculptures out of videotape. Why?

A I'm interested in non-conventional ways of making art. I started in painting, but I think that today we can do so much more.

At first, I was interested in how videotape could be seen as both a line and a data carrier. That's an interesting mix--you can have different perceptions of the same thing. Then, I saw lots of interesting sculptural qualities: infinite length; the ability to be a line but also disappear; it can carry colour but it's completely black; it's super light and very flexible. And no one was really working with it sculpturally.

Of course, a big part of the work is that I've animated the videotape with fans, with wind. I realized that the tape is very sensitive to wind, and that's become a fascination for me, because wind is a kind of invisible matter. It's been interesting making visual art with this invisible material. In many pieces, it's like the tape is tracing or surfing the wind.

Q Your artworks sometimes look like physics experiments. Were you ever into science?

A I'm not a scientist. But I do like basic physics, because I think any visual art is based on physics. We live in a material world, and if you want to build anything out of material you'd better know physics as much as you can. Painting is physics, sculpture is physics -- any kind of sculpture.

One more thing about the videotape, though--it connects with human memory, because it's often a record of something. It's about the past, but it's also about the present, because when you're faced with something flying or moving in front of you, it's a moment of pure "now." That's interesting to me--that it has ties with past memories and the present moment.

If you want to get a preview of how Kempinas works, check out the Youtube search results of his works.

(Image of Zilvinas Kempinas' Big O from Nuit Blanche)

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