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Somaphony – Antoni Rayzhekov & Katharina Köller – interview (EN)


1 – Can you introduce yourself as an artist, your artistic career and approach in general?

We are an artist couple, working together since 2014, where we started our collaboration with the project 10VE – musical biofeedback and movement composition for two actuators and an audience. Both of us are rooted in performing arts, with Antoni digging deeper into the field of digital arts, new media and music and Katharina into play writing and philosophy. For our projects we create our own hardware and software, that embed our artistic vision tightly in the custom designed media. Every project of ours can be seen as a performative instrument, often including the audience. We are exploring the body by capturing its physical states using biofeedback technology.

2 – Can you tell us about the project you are presenting at Electropixel? How did your creation come about? The process, the different steps, influences, failures, surprises and experiments.

After the success of our first project 10VE Intel contacted us in 2015 and commissioned us, to create an audio-visual performative piece. We decided to create SOMAPHONY as an experimental open source project, presenting itself as a sort of artistic startup, called SOMAPHONICS. We wanted to design a physical object, built with off-the-shelf components, and collaborated with the 3D artist Niki Malinov and the fine artist and sculpturer Dimiter Ovtcharov to create this retro-futuristic design of the SOMAPHONE wearable and the base station.

Within the project we explore a real time audiovisual synthesis driven by biofeedback (such as heart rate, stress level) and movement, where we experiment on a the relationship between performer and instrument as partners on the stage. Our performative instruments tend to behave ? and misbehave.

3 – What does Powerhack mean to you?How does this concept relate to your artistic approach?

We believe that people should be able to create their own tools for expression and not being constraint by technological decisions, that are based only on economical factors. In this sense, a powerhack can be understood as a better distribution of creative and technological know-how and power between the agents of the private, public and creative sectors.

4 – What does electropixel festival mean for you? Do you think that this type of festival is important in the current artistic landscape? How do see the future for this kind of diffusion space?

We are excited to be part of the festival and looking forward to experiencing the works of other artists, enjoying conversations and exchange of ideas. A festival like Elektropixel opens a platform for discourse and are important component in the development of the electronic arts.

5 – Apart from the idea that art transcends genres and categories, how do you see the new areas of digital art? How do you understand the genre “digital art”? What is the difference between digital art, electronic art, net art, multimedia creation, sound art … etc? What impact does this sort of categorization add to your approach to art and creativity?

For us it is interesting to explore the fusion between performing arts and digital arts, where we can use technology to blur the border between artist and audience and between different disciplines, by creating feedback-loops between different media. We attempt to explore the notion of autonomous artistic agents and partner with them. If we can allow ourself to paraphrase Zbigniew Rybczynski ? perhaps one of the greatest masterpieces of the 21st century will be a programming language.