Artur Lis (no art): I like to put people in the discomfort zones to make them think

On November 21, at 5:00 pm, Pandemic Media Space will host a lecture “Methods of image deformation” by Polish visual artist (although he doesn’t think so) Artur Lis aka no art. Our Zoom-meeting began with demonstrations of Artur’s artistic method: during the interview, the image of the speaker showed constant changes and deformations. It became an unusual and uncomfortable feeling. The method works – tested on myself.

I want to ask you about your website. It is written that you’re not an artist, but you’re a visual nonconformist, “non” visual artist but instead you’re working with a variety of visual techniques. I really can’t understand what is the truth because even your name includes the word “art”.

It’s a kind of playing with the words because the art should come from the people who observe it, experience it, name it and judge it and by myself I’m not saying that I’m an artist but the people say it. It comes from the inside of us more than when you’re describing yourself as an artist. People’s evaluation of experience is more important than what you say about yourself.. That’s why it’s a kind of playing.

How can you call your works if it’s not art at all? Is it only “work” or something else?

It’s like work and playing with the visuals. Most of the work I create by myself but I also use a lot of patches and tutorials which helps me to create and achieve the thing I want to create. I mostly say about myself that I’m a kind of visual designer or developer.

Even now it’s something like playing?

Yeah! (smiling).

Artur Lis

How do your Engineer and Design Degrees help you with your works? Or it doesn’t help?

It helps me a lot. For the first couple of years of my studying at Politechnika Krakowska I needed to learn by myself all the programs which I wanted to use. I was in the last year of the old structure of educational pitching in Poland. The new program hadn’t been introduced like things that you could do on your computer. You had to learn by yourself like graphical, architecture programs to create projects on computers not by your hands. My studies taught me to learn a lot by myself. When I finished it I had already known with many programs like AutoCAD, 3d studio max. Later in my career I was learning all stuffs by myself. It was a kind of thing that taught me in that way. But also technical thinking led me to work as an interior designer and later stage designer.

You’re writing your PhD work in intermedia faculty studies now. What is its topic?

Actually I’m changing my topic a little bit because during three years of studying I created my own system for lasers which is also connected to the sound. Before the topic was connected to the artificial intelligence that can create art. In my diploma I wanted to play with the words “No art” which accompany my works so as artificial intelligence created in art. Many people say that artificial intelligence cannot create the art. I think that artificial intelligence also can be an artist. It depends on how you create artificial intelligence and how it will be independent and how it will be thinking. In modern days when you use neuroscience, neuro artificial intelligence you easily can say that it’s independent. Probably it also can be an artist.

You said that it’s also related to the sound. Is there difference between visual art and multimedia art? 

The boundary between musical artists and visual artists started to fade. Finally we are on this stage that everything on the parties or on the concerts starts with the visual side and musicians should be able to create some visual works, VJ’s should create some music so it starts to fade. Visual/multimedia artist is a guy or girl who joins all this stuff together.

Tell me more about your staging productions, your cooperations with theatres.

I started working with theatres 6 years ago. I produced short video forms. I had an opportunity to work with really great directors. After one year I think they started to see my other works and I was hired as a stage designer. I liked it a lot. I thought about turning my work into the theatres, from the movie post production because I had already worked in a cinematic studio. The project that I will be presenting from technical side on Saturday was created with one actress that I shortly meet on my theatrical achievements way.

The actress is also a director, and there is also a performer which is mostly working with the body. During the pandemic time we were discussing for many hours every day  before we created a finish stage of this project. It’s evolving through the time because pandemic reality is changing so every next performance is different from the first one. And that is the way I like to work. We were playing together as directors, performers and visual designers and I was trying to introduce work in visual that they can have the view and they can work with me also on the visual side. Everybody was a director, VJ, conceptualist. I hope they will join me on Saturday and they will say some words about it.

Can you say that pandemic gave the opportunity for artists?

For me lockdown worked in a bad way. But on the other hand it worked in a good way. People started to open themselves, to believe themselves. I think that people moved to watch things on the Internet, many young and fresh artists have an opportunity to show their works. Even if it’s not so good or even if it’s not advanced. But it’s an opportunity for everybody to show off their works, to demonstrate themself. Many of my friends started working with video art now. The matter is that we all have to get used to it. 

Image deformation is a topic of your lecture. Why do you think it should be interesting or important for people, for nowadays art?

Image deformation is like everyday work of VJs. It can probably help many people now in the creation of their works. I found a really quick way to distort the images (videos) that I’m getting live from ZOOM. We’re living right now in a deformed reality. You don’t know what is true in the media ether. You cannot trust the media and you have to check two sides of the thing — black and white or two black sides, to compare them. That’s why I will be talking about deformation because if you slightly deform something, you can change the meaning. Verifying what is happening now around us, what is true and this is really important to check and find the truth.

Are you planning a practice part of your lecture?

I’ll show a little bit how to easily connect your visual to other things in programs and produce online works. Even I’m showing it now for you. 

Could you tell more about these programs?

I use Resolume to create the effects and Touchdesigner to screen grab for the Internet live. All of them are free in a trial version, so everybody can test them. But Cristmass is soon so they twicely cheaper and people can manage to buy them. I am happy to show them.

Who must listen to your lecture and why?

I think it will be good for intermediate intermedia students for sure. They can check how to connect things easily. Also for people who are interested in live theatrical performances. In future I’m planning to create the platform connected to the theatres. That platform can be for everybody and everybody can be one of the actors depending on the scenario. 

Maybe you have something important to say at the end of the interview?

We aren’t in the comfortable situation now that’s why I changed my topic a little, for “(dis)comforting”. For one it can be a comfort zone sitting at home and working, for others it can be discomfort because we need to meet people in real life. “No art” creates this kind of discomfort zone to make people think about what’s happening with the situation we are in right now. It’s more about being conscious. I like to put people in the discomfort zones to make them think.    


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