Eva Papamargariti: our bodies interconnected

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Roxanne Vardi

Eva Papamargariti is an artist based between Athens and London with a background in Architecture and the Visual Arts. The artist’s artistic practice focuses on creating 2D and 3D rendered spaces that ultimately blur the boundaries between physical and digital environments. Moreover, her practice focuses mainly on the moving image but she has also worked with prints and sculptural installations. Papamargariti’s works deal with the interactions between humans, nature, and technology which define our identity and everyday experiences. The artist’s works have been exhibited at different institutions on an international level including at The New Museum in New York, The Whitney Museum, New York, and Tate Britain in London.

This interview is published in conjunction with a solo show artcast by the artist titled Eva Papamargariti: Things Will Become Weirder.

Through your art practice you wish to explore the relationship between digital space and material reality, and in doing so you wish to blur the boundaries between digital and physical environments. In works such as “But for now all I can promise is that things will become weirder” you point to the numbness that is provoked by the rhythm of reality. Do you believe that by recreating this sense in the digital space you are able in a way to propose a solution to this feeling?

Through my work I try to understand what constructs our reality, so inevitably I am also exploring the in-between area where digital space and material reality collapse. There is an ongoing dialogue between what we experience, how we proceed everything and what remains in the end. 

These are elements that in a way always blend in my practice and each time they can be translated or presented in multiple ways. My goal is not exactly to propose a solution to these feelings or thoughts, I am not sure if there is a solution to be honest, these are situations and conditions that are quite perplexing and we continuously find ourselves in them. I am trying to bring out feelings and perspectives that are at the core of these situations, or perhaps I am trying to get closer to these feelings, to approach them and acknowledge them no matter how weird or awkward they might be. At the same time, our actions and gestures right now are dispersed and reflected simultaneously on the digital and physical realm, so the distinction between them becomes redundant, there is a continuous flow and exchange of activity that gets blended in an amalgam of information, data, actions, gestures, decisions, feelings, identities that shapes who and how we are.

Eva Papamargariti, As they were drifting away, their bodies turned into waves, 2022.

Your artworks can be experienced as visual poetry. Can you elaborate on the power of the written word specifically in the digital space, and why this is important for you as a visual artist?

When I started creating my first works I would only use moving image as my main medium, after a while I felt the need to expand what I was creating into something that contains multiple layers of narration. 

So written word was something that helped me go towards this direction, sound as well and also different other materialities and mediums were added through the years. For my practice and for the expression of my ideas and concepts, these elements and the ways that they interact and complete each other is something really important. I feel like I am constructing a peculiar kind of ‘building’ through different fragments and materialities. Written word is a very direct way to tell something and convey a meaning, but also it can become a very magical and poetic way to speak about things, deconstruct them or even deviate one’s thoughts towards other routes and suggest alternative paths.

Your work, “Transformative Encounters”, presents the viewer with a kind of futuristic exoskeleton. Would it be far-fetched to read this work as an indicator to our lives and sort of alienation in the metaverse?

In  “Transformative Encounters” we witness and explore the actions of a swarm of critters that can definitely be seen as other entities. There is also a constant change of scale so the viewer cannot actually know if these creatures are seen through a microscopic lense or a macroscopic lense.

This futuristic exoskeleton can be seen as this kind of Otherness that is already among us, or as a critter that will come to life in the future – as a hybrid organism, as AI or even as a fossil, a remnant of an intelligent structure or being. The metaverse is some sort of reflection of our surroundings, what  we do and how we exist there or will exist is already present in the way we exist now. These futuristic exoskeletons can actually be huge loads of archived data, augmented bodies, abandoned digital 3d structures. They are a vessel and a metaphor at the same time for what is coming but also for what is already here, visible or invisible.

Eva Papamargariti, Transformative Encounters, 2022.

Could you elaborate on your artistic practice and the process that you go through to create your new media artworks? Do you also make use of found footage or do you necessarily recreate reality using digital tools, and if so how do you balance between the two techniques?

In my practice I use a blend of materialities, techniques and processes to structure my concepts and narratives. Most of the time I use digital tools – the first steps for the creation of my works usually happen inside a software. I use 3d softwares (sculpting, animation, modeling, texturing softwares etc) for example in the same way someone is using a sketchbook. I try multiple versions and designs, I erase them, I transform them. So the first steps are to put my initial ideas on the screen and the 3d space, I explore the ambience of the work, I am experimenting with textures, lighting, sound. After several tries the design process takes a smoother path and I am deciding the final forms of the animation, videos, sound, sculptural objects, textiles. All these different elements are always part of a unifying narrative mechanism. They are talking about something that can be seen from multiple perspectives and evoke various feelings. I want the viewer to be able to feel close to what I am building so for me these different mediums are just my tools to express my ideas and build the worlds I want to build. I rarely use found footage. For example, I always try to filter or distort everything through my own lens, I get a lot of inspiration though through things I find and see online, more vernacular stuff like memes, youtube comments etc

Eva Papamargariti, But for now all I can promise…, 2022.

The works in this artcast all exhibit an emphasis on the human body not just as a vessel in the physical world but also in the digital space. Could you please elaborate on your interest in this subject matter and the solutions that you propose by focusing on the body?

The human body, or let’s better say the idea of the body, human or nonhuman, has always been one of the main themes in my work. Since I was an architecture student I would always observe how the body moves and exists in between spaces, how it becomes active or inactive and what exactly means for a body to act or not, to stand or be still etc. The idea of the body now can be quite extended and affected, through technology, networks, biopolitics and all these other parameters that include or exclude and alter our bodies and the bodies of other living organisms. Our limbs and our minds extend on the digital space, they live there as well, everything gets interconnected, we exist in multiple zones and contexts. We cannot exactly describe this kind of simultaneity as we experience it, we can only attempt to approach it, or take some distance from it and then observe it. That is what I am trying to do, I am observing as I am experiencing all these invisible and visible parameters that accumulate in our bodies and then they are coming out as data, as information, as tangible or intangible objects and elements. Apart from the biological aspect, our bodies carry history and stories, they occupy space, they become space, they extend themselves, they link and they blend with other materialities, with technological devices, they obtain hybrid elements as they become chimeric and palimpsestic. The creatures and bodies that live and exist in the worlds I construct can be seen as uncanny, otherworldly or even awkward. But they all obtain these elements and characteristics I described as they reflect the human bodies while they also contain other bodies – they are always in a process of becoming someone or something else because they feel it’s the only way that they can survive. Through change, through symbiosis, through adaptation.

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