Milos Rajkovic aka Sholim is a Belgrade-based gif artist and “digital surrealist” who creates wonderfully mind-bending visual puzzles. Behind Rajkovic’s visual wit is a subversive sense of humor that he puts to work tackling diverse socio-political topics like corporate culture, religion, and our dependence on technology. His meticulously constructed tableaux are often created from manipulated vintage found footage giving them an uncanny quality that defies time and space.
Welcome to the strange and wonderful world of Milos Rajkovic.
Christian Petersen: What were you like as a kid?
Milos Rajkovic: As a kid in the 90s I really enjoyed that era’s MTV music videos.
CP: What was your first experiences with a computer like?
MR: I think it was 1990 or 1991 when my father bought his first PC 286 with a black and white screen. My first memory about some sort of “animation” is from that period. I drew simple objects in AutoCad then I moved it with the mouse to different positions on screen. Then by clicking the undo and redo buttons they magically moved. I was 5 years old.
CP: How would you describe your personality?
MR: Passionately patient.
CP: When did you first start experimenting with gifs?
MR: During the MySpace era I started to experiment with gifs as form of art and promotion. I really loved MySpace because it allowed you to create your page full of gifs but the internet back then was too slow for it and that’s why everything with that site fell apart. A couple of years later, when the internet became faster and gifs became larger (over 1 or 2 megabytes), Tumblr was a place where whole gif art story began.
CP: How did growing up in Serbia influence the art you now make?
MR: It influenced me a lot. Serbia is a small and sometimes off the radar country in Europe and I realized that if I want to be noticed I’d need to work twice as much as somebody from France on something that is five times more authentic than something someone from England can create.
CP: How would you describe your relationship with social media?
MR: I love it a lot because it’s almost free and it’s the best tool for promotion art and inspiring other people.
CP: In your view, how has the internet changed creativity in general?
MR: It changed it in a way that I don’t like very much. Now creativity entertains people instead of being inspirational.
CP: Your work is very political. What issues do you feel most strongly about?
MR: I am from a part of Europe where a lot of political shit happened in last 25 years. Because of that it feels very relevant to create something about it.
CP: Most net/gif artists try and avoid being so directly political. Why do you think that is?
MR: Because they don't have a clear attitude about it.
CP: You say that people have an “unhealthy dependence on technology.” How will that change humanity?
MR: This is a great question but I don't want to go deep into it. I just want say that I hope that it won't change humanity in negative way.
CP: Do you think there will ever be a significant reaction against it?
MR: Since the industrial revolution art is constant reaction against it and it should always be.
CP: Your work is very modern but also often has a vintage aesthetic.
MR: I don't like 3D or VR because it’s synthetic/unnatural. That’s why I use recorded footage or interesting segments from old movies. Also I want to pay respect and create homages to the times that pass away. For me that’s a natural flow of creativity in art.
CP: Why is humor important in your work?
MR: Humor is essentially needed in art—especially if you have a serious message to share. It creates balance and it’s like a brake for not being extreme. That's most important. Just imagine Public Enemy without Flavor Flav: it would be a really, really, really serious band.
CP: Do you begin with a fixed idea for your gifs?
MR: Sometimes it's a fixed idea and sometimes the footage that I found or shot dictates the flow of finding the idea.
CP: How much experimentation is involved?
MR: Maybe 90 percent!!!! I go into experimentation because it always pushes me away from the safe zone and that’s the place where real magic happens.
CP: How long, on average, does it take to make one gif?
MR: I never measure time. The only thing that is important to me is that I am happy with the work I create.
CP: Do you feel like you are part of a global gif art scene or net art scene?
MR: I feel like I am part of a community of creative people who use the internet to unselfishly share art with the rest of the world.
CP: Would you describe yourself as a surrealist?
MR: I would like to describe myself as a digital surrealist. I’m a big fan of lowbrow or pop surrealism painters and that’s something that influences me the most.
CP: What has the reaction been like in Belgrade/Serbia to your art?
MR: When I explain to someone that you can live and have a career by doing this kind of stuff the reactions are positive. But if I don't have the will to explain then people think that I am bored AF and that’s why I have a lot time for doing this. Haha, it’s funny.
CP: What are your thoughts on the monetization of net/digital art?
MR: My work is an ad that circulates online and I have a lot of requests (sometimes annoyingly a lot) for working on some projects but as long as your ad is quality there’s no worries.
CP: What do you do besides making art?
MR: Live my life.
We run an online magazine, so of course, we're interested in what's happening with art on the web. We invited online gallerist, founder, and curator of Digital Sweat Gallery, Christian Petersen, to write a bi-monthly column for us. Every other Wednesday he selects a Web Artist of the Week.
(All images: Courtesy of the artist)