‘Digits are the new fingers’ is a good phrase to start an article. Ten years into the 21st century and technology is advancing at such a rate it seems the human body is unable to keep up. onedotzero have been at the cutting edge of vanguard moving imagery since 1996, jotta caught up with co-founder Shane Walter and his long term collaborator Qualoya on the eve of ‘adventures in motion festival’ at the BFI. United by an almost evangelical zeal for the new and untested; their partnership is a model of what can happen when creative people follow their muse, and curators and agencies follow their personal tastes.
jotta- How would you describe onedotzero?
S- We collaborate, curate, commission and distribute; we also act more like a production company in some ways.
jotta -This is a very different model from the art world…
S – We offer a non-exclusive model – the more opportunities we create for a work, the more revenue we can bring back to the creator.
jotta – How have things changed from when you started?
S – We were the one of the first festivals to show music videos in a cinema and gaming within an artistic context. In 1997, with our first festival at the ICA, we talked about the death of celluloid, and not many people took us seriously. The digital area is so fast-moving; the traditional structures struggle to keep up.
jotta – Could you describe how you work with practitioners…
S – Someone like Quayola, who we have been working with for a long time, we stay in touch and are aware of what he is working on so we can create opportunities for that. We respond to his work and direct him to potential platforms…..
Q – We have independent trajectories that sometimes intersect; it’s quite an organic collaboration.
jotta – Your educational activities are very significant, it’s a very inclusive model, actively developing partnerships with young graduates.
S – It comes out of a frustration that no one else is doing it. I don’t think departmentalised education works because creativity is very fluid. We are interested in bringing people from different disciplines and working together, this doesn’t happen enough at colleges.
jotta – Festivals play a large part in your activity…..
S – A festival is a massive supporting network, shining a light on new talent, also the atmosphere of the festival is important, making new friends, and creating links.
Q – You can exchange feedback on Vimeo – but a handshake is something more important.
jotta – These social activities, convergence and collaboration feed into the utopian ambitions of the festival….
S – It’s important that artists contribute to making optimism in some way; there is too much doom and gloom.
jotta- Quayola, could you tell me a little bit about your work, ‘Strata’?
Q – ‘Strata’ is from a larger series of works that started with onedotzero. It is a way of connecting classical iconography to digital aesthetics. I am interested in transforming the original images, using finished work as a starting point to create new work. I see it as an abstract animation that is created through decoding elements of the figurative.
jotta – Technology has massively impacted forms of dissemination, but do you think it’s actually changed the way that we see things?
S – Over the next 10 years we will see big leaps forward, this generation have worked with computers all their lives…..
Q – Technology is something we are inspired by, in the same way that the Futurists were inspired by the machine.
S – Culture is changing; emerging practitioners think, act and communicate differently to previous generations. I think the idea that you can be inspired by creativity is very powerful; art should transform the way you are thinking about things.
Q – I knew about onedotzero when I was a kid in Italy – it’s much bigger outside of England.
jotta – Why is that, do you think?
S – onedotzero realised that the world is changing and you can’t wait for people to come to you. Before the internet we were the only point of access for a lot of people to this work. We’ve put on festivals in over 140 cities all over the world.
Q – I thought it was Japanese in the beginning!
S – We not only interested ins mall cities but also in smaller places such as Ljubljana and Stockholm, and asked people to get involved, so they could take a greater sense of ownership over the events.
jotta – This seems to run parallel to the de-centralizing effect of the internet, the cultural industries have become dispersed, away from the traditional areas of activity; places such as Ljubljana have really strong cultural scenes now for instance.
S – When you get people together, it changes the direction of what happens next. The theme of this year’s festival is Utopia; I really think artist’s can contribute to these expanded horizons.
jotta – A lot of digital art is very ethereal, you could say beautiful, Quayola’s work for instance takes classical motifs and tries to engage with these codes. This is a connecting motif in new digital art, the interest in re-engaging with the sublime.
S – People are really suspicious if you talk about technology being beautiful, but a new generation seems less bothered by the weight of these terms-and 20th century aesthetics.
jotta – It seems that through using new technology that somehow practitioners feel less weighed down by historical discourses. Beauty seems to have been out of bounds in the art world and anything that is deeply unfashionable becomes very interesting to young artists.
Q – A computer mouse hasn’t been around for 500 years like oil paint so we can use it without all the historical baggage….