Q&A: Camila Magrane
Standing in front of Camilla Magrane's artworks, you realize they are just not interactive. They bring forth a sense of nostalgic memories that are deep-seated inside your mystic dreams.
We made this discovery as we explored each artwork displayed at stARTup Art Fair. You are completely captivated by her constantly moving images. These mini stories transport you to a different world.
We asked her a few questions about how she became a multimedia artist and where her passion comes from.
Tell us about yourself.
I was born in Caracas, Venezuela. My mother is from Venezuela and my father is from the U.S. so I grew up living between the two countries. Being fully exposed to two different cultures gave me a greater understanding of what it means to have various perspectives. This has become a major theme in my work. I grew up in a creative household so I've been making art for as long as I can remember.
As a multimedia artist, I work with many mediums. Most recently I have been focusing on photo collage as well as interactive/new media. My interactive work consists of virtual and mixed reality, interactive video, and video games. Conceptually I am exploring the intersection and relationship between technology and the human form, and examining how emerging technologies are affecting us on a personal level. Having the ability to code enables me to use interactivity as an element in my work. The power of interactive art lies with the viewer taking on a participatory role, thus providing the opportunity to become part of the creative process. This allows the experience to be unique for each viewer. As an artist of the 21st century, I feel it's important to use the tools that are part of our everyday lives. By doing so I am more accurately reflecting our current times. Technologies such as computers, cell phones, and the internet are all having profound impacts on the way we interact with each other and the world around us. We have created a dependency on these things. Using them as mediums and tools in my work helps reflect our society and present time in a more relatable and accurate manner.
Can you share your journey of becoming a multimedia artist? Did you get formal education or are you self-taught?
I spent many years in college, roughly eight years. The reason being, I didn't know what I wanted to study, or really I found myself studying too many things. I changed my major roughly five times. I finally ended up graduating with a computer science degree, but it took me a while to get there.
I'd say the beginning of my formal education began when I went to film school in Caracas. There was very little film/video equipment and professional gear at the school, but in a way I'm grateful for this. The lack of proper equipment and resources forced the students to get creative with the way they made films and to focus on the story more than anything else. During my studies, I realized that I was mostly fascinated with non-linear and experimental storytelling. I discovered this was being most effectively done in video games and interactive media. That's what ultimately led me to study computer science. I knew that if I wanted to make my own games and interactive stories I'd have to know how to program. The only way I was going to be able to do that was if I had some sort of structured academic setting to do it in. After I graduated I worked as a cinematic artist at a game company for a couple of years. During this time, I began exhibiting my personal photo and interactive work. It became very difficult to juggle a full time job and what felt like a full time art career, so I decided to take the leap and pursue my art full time. I could not be happier with my decision.
How does photography play into your interactive works?
I spent several years studying photography in college. During this time, I fell in love with traditional black and white photography and working in the darkroom. I became fascinated with alternative processes and using non conventional methods of printing. This admiration has carried over from the darkroom to my computer. There's a certain aesthetic and style that I've created with my photo collage work and I try to maintain that in my digital and interactive work. The techniques I experimented with in photography and in the darkroom have become the foundation of my visual palette and vocabulary and I try to stick to that regardless of the medium I'm using.
Guide us through the process of creating one of your Virtual Mutations.
First I design the image. The augmented reality aspect is just an extension of the image, so that comes after the design is complete. I begin the whole process in the darkroom by making photograms, which are basically x-rays of objects. After making the photograms, I scan them so that I can manipulate them in a digital format. I then collage them over photographs I've taken or found. Once I'm done collaging, I'm ready to add the augmented reality features. To do this, I create 3d animations that I layer on top of the image. It's basically the same creative process I use when I'm creating the photo collage, but instead of on a 2d plane I'm collaging in 3d space on the computer. In order to see the augmented elements, the viewer has to download my app to their phone. This allows them to access and view the augmented reality features of the art work. The app is called “Virtual Mutations”. I developed it strictly to be used for all of my augmented reality artwork.
What or who influences your style?
I don't do color. I love the elegance and rawness of black and white. Man Ray is the father of photograms, so his work has had a big influence. The Dada movement. German expressionist science-fiction and cinema (I love the movie Metropolis), Bauhaus design, and punk culture. I also play a lot of video games.
What’s are you working on next?
I've really been enjoying working in the medium of augmented reality so I'm going to keep going with that. I want to start incorporating more abstract gameplay mechanics to add another element of interaction to my work. I’m also interested in exploring art that creates a space for cooperation between viewers (co-op gameplay).
Interview by Diane Lindquist