M.F : Dear Kari Altmann. We have began a research concerning contemporary creations combining glass and new technologies “in the digital age”. We are currently in the early stages of the project. During the first phase, we looked for creations and artists, we tried to do the list of this new technologies, practices and uses, we followed tracks, we made interviews, we collected datas, we made a list of the different problematics. The general idea was to observe what happens when artists choose to combine these two fields (aesthetic, artistic, poetic, plastic, symbolic, critic dimensions), and if the question of using “new technologies” goes beyond the question of “means”. Of course, the question of “new technologies” could raise, indeed, several other social, political, ecological, economical subjects, etc. You don't use “essentially” glass in your works, but I’ve discovered in my research your sculpture Secure Valid Authentic Genuine, 2010. First, I was interested in this sculpture, and its significations (also because it combines glass and new technologies), and then, I’ve seen your digital pictures with strange aquatic forms which look like glass sculptures. As a digital artist, if I can say that, and with your kind of sensibility, I feel free to ask you some questions. Could tell us more things about Secure Valid Authentic Genuine, and your choice to work with, both, glass and new technologies ?
K.A : This object seems see-through from most angles, but at certain degrees the light catches the holographic “security” warnings that are seemingly embedded, and you realize that something you thought was clear and simple, cut-and-dry, is actually made from a larger source-- something more mysterious, further from your awareness. It becomes a filtered lens into a “virtual” world of privacy control. The “rock slab” shape also suggests it’s part of an almost geologically huge and slow process, something that is liquid but on an enormous timescale. I’m not sure what new technologies are at play here, besides maybe imaging strategies, but it’s definitely thinking about virtuality and using the materials and templates of mass production, which can relate to products as much as they relate to political concepts, and which are now purchasable on an individual scale.
M.F : What is the place of digital technologies and new media in your works ? New technologies create forms and ideas ? Or vice-versa ? Or there is always a subtle balance between ideas, shapes and new technologies ?
K.A : There are a million ways to make an image, all of which are valid and can merge together. Thinking conceptually, representing some kind of cultural climate, expressing a personal story, and freestyle 3D modeling are all equal strategies, and as more and more imaging tools and materials are created, concepts and culture are going to have more ways to expand and evolve. The technologies I’m most interested in are cultural technologies.
M.F : If I tell you “glass” and “new technologies” : What happens ? What is vibrates ?
K.A : I just think about RealFlow, 3D printing, and the kinds of materials or objects you can buy on sites like Ebay, Alibaba, etc.
M.F : A critic question. Any use of technology, art, involves reflecting on this technology. The use of new technologies should be accompanied by critical reflection on new technologies themselves in social, political, ecological, economic, terms (because of all what means and could evoke the expression "new technologies" in the digital age) ? Or they are just tools ?
K.A : Both aspects are important, both thinking and making. Not everything made with new tools has to have a specifically critical conceit. I think there’s a certain point you can push a tool’s output to, an ambiguous place that activates both its material possibilities and its critical, cultural, and social context in total harmony. That’s why making art instead of products with new tools is so important, it has the ability to activate all these facets at once and reveal these embedded possibilities.
Photo : Secure Valid Authentic Genuine, 2010, Glass, Holographic Security Film