Three questions to Mikayel Ohanjanyan
Interview by Mario Savini
The Armenian artist Mikayel Ohanjanyan was born in Erevan in 1976, and he moved to Italy in 2000. He attended the Academies of Fine Art of Erevan and Florence. Since 2008 he has lived in the ancient town of Reggello (FI). At the 54th International Art Exhibition in Venice, this year, he presented "Perspectives", an interactive sculpture that appears to be a game.
"Perspectives" (2011) is an interactive sculpture on purpose created for the 54th International Art Exhibition in Venice. Could you describe the work in detail? What is the meaning behind "Perspectives"?
Yes, it is true. The work was specifically designed for the side event "Neoludica /Art is a game 2011-1966" (edited by Debora Ferrari and Luca Traini), and it includes the result of research on form and space, that I have been developing for some years, along with increased reality. Among other things, it is the first time I’ve given visitors the possibility of discovering other dimensions in the sculpture, in this case poetic-philosophical. It is a cubic structure of 1m3 of oxidized iron, placed on a base, 1,6 m x 1,6 m. (that is also a part of the sculpture), and black, opaque, plexiglass, in an oxidized iron frame. Inside the cubic structure, numerous threads of polyester are intertwined from one side to the other, developing very thin geometrical surfaces, created by the carbon fibres. On both sides of every surface, there are small, coloured balls, which besides giving an aesthetical lightness to the work, are an actual code by which to read sentences in the space of the sculpture, deciphered with a smart-phone App specifically created for this work by "Serenata" (Alessandra Rigano and Frederick Carson) in collaboration with “Rehacktive Labs" (Stefano Di Francisca)
In formal and spatial terms, the work crosses the boundaries of form itself, in that, it tries to represent the introverted dimension of form and space, where it highlights the contrast between the One, its versatility, its stillness and its dynamism, inside-outside... Relationships that, despite the seemingly timeless aspect of sculpture, directly reflect the nuances of our modern society, with all its contradictions and tensions, and which give each visitor the opportunity to interpret the work in a very personal way. For me, it’s as if it were a self-portrait, where every thread represents an understanding, a meeting, a memory that they create in my full spaces and my voids. Surfaces, whether full or empty ones, represent a possibility of a new vision of the same space, therefore, a continuous journey and a myriad of perspectives... and all this happens in One.
This work develops a complex, trans-medial narrative in which the elements interweave in a continuous flow. With a smart-phone you traverse cultural landscapes that seem to resurface from the memory of the work. What, in particular, is the role of the user?
In fact, the sculpture is interactive, in how much the visitor, after their first impact with a form and an unknown space, charged with tensions and perspectives, enter into play with the work. It’s worth saying, that with the help of a smart-phone, one begins to decipher the colours, we mentioned before, discovering the same sentence in the most widely spoken languages of the world. It becomes a real game and spatial journey, of research into one’s own language, to discover the meaning of the self. The sentence reads "Know thyself" from Taletes, which in turn, incites in the observer an intimate and profound reflection. The user, each in his own way, in this spatial journey becomes the protagonist of the work.
With the rapid evolution of digital technologies, would you say we are experiencing a new cultural renaissance?
Personally, my artistic journey began from classical studies, based on the traditional art, therefore also using traditional materials. Over time, the maturation of my ideas, research into form, and curiosity for new media, have opened me to new possibilities and horizons of research. I believe that research and innovation are fundamental, both from the point of view of digital technologies and of new materials, however, at the same time I think that it is neither digital technologies nor even new media which create a new Renaissance. Without doubt, materials and new technologies can provide input to a new idea, but without the process and deep research of the vision, they simply remain good tools.
Translation by Joanna Mallin-Davies