“Polytech.Science.Art” program of the Polytechnic Museum in Moscow presented a new workshop, “Haptic City”, run by Greek media artist Artemis Papageorgiou: From August 5 to 8, 2014, workshop participants spent some time at the Strelka Institute going deep into fibertronics. Haptic City is a workshop about using electronic components while working with textiles: Participants were invited to create a conceptual interactive map of Moscow under the guidance of Artemis Papageorgiou.
Natalia Fuchs: You graduated from Goldsmiths. What was your main focus during your studies and how did it influence your artistic approach?
Artemis Papageorgiou: My background is in architecture, so when I entered Goldsmiths my main preoccupation was (and remains largely) to explore how space and spatial experience can be shaped through the use of technology and interactive media. At Goldsmiths I focused on exploring technologies in order to design immersive and responsive environments that allow the user to engage bodily and “act out” space. For example, one of my projects Wii/nd Chime is an object made of Wii remote controllers and designed to look like a wind chime, but it behaves differently and makes people take a second gaze for understanding.
NF: If to compare life and work in London and Athens, the city you came back to, where do you feel the environment reacts better to your concepts and projects?
AP: London is a hub for creativity and generally a great environment for artists to grow and show their work. However, as a young graduate I felt high pressure within the funding system, writing up applications most of the time, and having less resources than I expected, outside the academia. In Athens I have access to cheaper resources, but the funding is scarce, so I continue to work as an engineer. I think it is really a matter of personal choice. For me, it is important to participate in international shows and symposia in order to grow and develop my work within a wider ecology of art practices.
NF: What’s the digital art scene like in Greece? How is the connection between artists, technologists, and scientists there?
AP: My impression is that there is a small but powerful core of artists working with new media art on a local and international level. The relation between artists, technologists, and scientists is not so strong yet in the sense of multidisciplinary collaborations. Maybe there is not enough motivation coming from the academy or the industry, but I see independent initiatives that are beginning to change that.
NF: You explore public space using technologies and interactive design concepts. Who are the theorists and researchers you relate to in this process?
AP: I relate mainly to modernist and meta-modernist architects who proposed utopian solutions for the city in the 1920s and onwards. One of my recurrent referenced architects is Cedric Price. He proposed a computational medium for designing spatial systems that are open, participatory, and interchangeable. In his vision, space can and should be created collaboratively by people, according to their needs and collective decision-making. With his Space Generator Series and the Fun Palace he envisioned technology and algorithmic design as a means toward a social approach to architectural space. Lately, I have been looking again at Giambattista Piranesi’s visual work and Manfredo Tafuri’s texts about architecture and utopia. As for public space, I have been reading about the shaping of communities in Sam Bass Warner’s texts and about the New Public Domain in Hajer and Reijndorp’s homonym book. Apart from theorists I look at other designers’ inspirational work and get informed through practical examples. As a co-founder at Athens Plaython I have had the chance to work closely with designers and learn from them first hand about play in public space.
NF: It was your first visit to Moscow last week. What expectations did you have for the workshop? Which other cities in the world have interactive maps via the Haptic City workshop?
AP: In Moscow I expected to work out a slightly different idea about the Haptic City map. With Afroditi Psarra we began this project as a two-dimensional representation of city maps. We have already worked with two different teams on a map of Athens and Bergen. In my new version for Moscow I wanted to add different perspectives and representative images on the map, and I asked participants to recall important elements in their trajectories on walks we made together and to stitch their personal element into the map.
NF: Which art works and artists made a big impression on you recently?
AP: I recently enjoyed Ryoji Ikeda’s performance for its minimalistic and powerful audio-visual effect and clear narrative. Other than that, I enjoy the work by Yuri Suzuki and Daily Tous Les Jours, among other designers.
Artemis Papageorgiou is an architect and multimedia artist who works with innovative technologies. Her inspiration derives from nature, technology, and architectural theory. Through the design and fabrication of responsive installations, she explores the possibilities of simulation, systems thinking, and interactivity within natural and urban settings. Artemis also works as a freelance architect focusing on residential projects and furniture. After receiving her Masters in Computational Arts at Goldsmiths College, she stayed in London where she collaborated with Cinimod Studio, Jason Bruges Studio, and led workshops on DIY electronics for the MzTek collective. Upon arrival in Athens she worked for AFU custom furniture where she focused on furniture design and sales. In September 2011 Artemis co-founded Athens Plaython, a festival of urban games and technology, which launched in Athens in November. Athens Plaython won second place at the TEDx Athens Challenge competition and was presented at the TEDx Athens conference in December 2011.
(c) Natalia Fuchs
Photo credits: Alla Afonina, Grigory Matveev, Polytechnic Museum