Istanbul-based Haydi Roket is part of a rising wave of new media artists turning their hands to the curation of online digital art shows. He launched his latest show Virtual Dream earlier this week. Virtual Dream features 30 artists (full disclosure: I am one of them) exploring the tensions and inconsistencies between our real and our increasingly dominant digital lives.
Most online experiences consist of a seemingly random sequence of abstract images and ideas, much like our “real” dreams. The show, seen as a whole, gives us a fascinating overview of the digital dream state that many of us have unavoidably succumbed to. It also vitally reflects the massive creative impact that the virtual world has had on a whole generation of artists.
I spoke to Roket about his inspiration for Virtual Dream, his work with the influential Wrong Biennial, and how he got his start in online curation.
Sholim. All images from Virtual Dream
Christian Petersen: What was your first experience of digital/new media art and why were you attracted to it?
Haydi Roket: My first introduction to the digital arts was with Deluxe Paint. I was designing logos for the intros of our Amiga crack scene group. I was impressed with computer arts from first sight so I was easily attracted to it.
CP: When did you start using a computer to make art? What did you make?
HR: I think it was 1994. I first started making sprites [bitmap graphics designed to be part of a larger scene, often characters and objects] for shoot 'em up games I was making using game makers.
CP: What was the first new media art show you curated?
HR: I curated Hypermedia Dreams in 2015 for The Wrong: New Digital Art Biennale. We worked with more than 30 artists who are very important in their own mediums. The Wrong was really big! It was the biggest event held in this medium. All the hundreds of participants got thousands of submissions and it got a lot of attention and support. Being a part of it and working with these awesome people was an excellent experience. After that I curated for the Istanbul branch of 6PM Your Local Time Europe. Virtual Dream will be my third curating experience.
Ellectra Radikal, Full video here
CP: What are the unique challenges to curating online art shows?
HR: Since I haven't curated a real life show, the only struggles I have had are online difficulties: struggles like getting people together, being in contact with them all, and following deadlines. I can also say things like taking responsibility, designing the website, dealing with the domain, etc.
CP: Why do you think online shows are important?
HR: Online shows are really important for exhibiting digital art. I also think it's much cooler. I'm sure in the next few years, with the development of virtual reality, there will be even more excellent online events happening. In the near future when everything goes digital maybe people will look back at the things we had done before and say “wow look at the stuff these guys dealt with.” :)
I don't know. Maybe they will respect the things we have done, but the technology and the evolution of digital arts is unstoppable and that's why all artists should organize more online events and support them.
CP: What are your thoughts on making money from digital art?
HR: Making money out of digital arts is rarely easy; most of the time it’s really hard. Some brands are working with artists on projects from the beginning. If you are good and lucky enough you can make good money from it. But it’s still unclear how digital arts will be sold, and since it’s not a physical thing you can touch people still consider whether they should invest in it or not. I think in the near future all these problems will vanish. We just need to be patient.
CP: What online art shows do you think have been done best?
HR: I would say The Wrong and SPAMM because of their courageous set-ups for digital arts in the early days.
Raquel Meyers, Full animation here
CP: Tell us a little about the idea behind Virtual Dream.
HR: I think we all live this virtual dream. In these days we live in the online world more, expressing and sharing our thoughts and memories in the virtual world. People’s virtual identities have surpassed their real identities; people started caring about their virtual lives more than their real lives. They live thinking about how to shine their virtual personalities and feed it as if it’s a mandatory thing. All this virtual happiness and memories that they create control their lives, and people compulsorily live in this unlimited world. That is the virtual dream.
CP: What other projects are you working on?
HR: I still create GIFs. However, it’s not as much as it used to be. Apart from the freelance stuff that I do and things I prepare for various events, there is one project that I’m working on and it will make this virtual world very happy. I can only say that for now. I hope if everything goes according to plan I will put it into practice around the middle of next year.
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.
(Image at top: Hexiosis. All images from Virtual Dream)
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