Living VS functioning
Evelyn BencicovaPHOTO . October 10th, 2018
Could you introduce yourself ?
I’m Evelyn. Im a visual story-teller of fiction based on truth. Im student of art and of life. Im usually struggling and refusing to define myself as I am work in progress.
Do you have some music to share with us to listen at while reading this interview ?
How did you get into photography ? What do you like about it ?
I don’t consider myself as a photographer. Taking pictures is just the most recent and smallest part of my working process. I’m using the photography medium to capture, but it does not define me. I started using a camera 5 years ago after some serious eye surgery. Photography enabled me to see the details of the world but my sense for visual arts was developed much earlier. I was building up scenes in my mind, an imaginary world, mostly without defined form. Today I simply found the way to express it. Photography is a language, helping me to express myself, but photography itself is not the message.
Please tell us about Artificial Tears.
Artificial Tears was created in 2017 after seeing of two great exhibitions, which really influenced my thinking at the time: “Love and Fear” in London and “Artificial tears”-Vienna Biennale. These exhibition consisted in several pieces dealing with the future of artificial intelligence, questioning dependency, morality and bias of human beings in relation with this topic. Reaction to such form of high technology is often a combination of exactly these two feelings : love and fear. At the same time we hope for our salvation but we fear the fall and the domination of the humankind. Artificial Intelligence elevates us as creators of something powerful and yet frightening. It makes man feel divine but also fragile and mortal, because replaceable by a device. This problematic opens up an infinite number of questions but there was one issue in particular that caught my attention. In all the dilemmas and discussions we draw a line dividing us and them, or keep on seeing AI only as a object of our creation. As if we forgot that real progress could generate the absolute union of these two species, by reaching the point where differences are so hard to see, the differentiation so blurry, that it will be impossible to know on which side you stand. The definition living, in comparison to functioning, could easily evolved by shifting the focus from origin (how I/it comes to existence?) to purpose (why I/it comes to existence?) of creation. What differentiates humans and machines ?
#artificialtears depicts the moment of uncertainty, which is somehow alienation, that comes when one, in its more ordinary state, is performing a stereotypical (act or given) task. It is all about that glimpse, that one second when the ordinary pattern gets broken, then the meaning, or, actually, the meaninglessness of one’s own action is revealed. Artificial Tears does not necessarily show the future where machines act like humans but rather, or also, the world in which humans act like machines… Which is not so far from our everyday reality.
Who is the model ?
The main character takes a classic female appearance, matching stereotypical perfection. It represent the woman designed (by others or herself) to satisfy the general definition of her kind.
This model is nobody. Everybody. This model is you as it is me. But also none of us.
It can be marlin Monroe. Or Tara the Android. Or a faceless machine.
It is alienation.
It is a feeling to be outsider in strange world. Forced to adapt to some absurd rules.
It is nonsense.
What is that location ? How did you find it ?
My vision of future is very elegant, sterile and clean. Reality is just a blank canvas on which we project ourselves. The nothingness of the world we see suggest that everything is happening inside, in the mind, process(or) of thinking. Artificial Tears takes place in non-places, official places, public spaces, in the sense of the opposite of private. The location is the stage you are watching. It is your computer screen.
How did you organise the shooting ?
Mostly just me and the model. We came to the place and spoke about the feeling to express, than tried to express it in the space. The rest was left to accident.
This project was quiet, almost no sound, maybe just subtle background music or slight machine sounds. I always see photo as a scene which froze for a moment so that you can see it. But it truly exist only there. This is just a copy of reality. And the project itself is a copy so the photographs are copy of the copy…
Do you pick up the outfits yourself ?
I collected all clothes myself. I identified with this character so I just went into a store (I only buy in second hands) and asked myself : what would I wear ? Evelyn wears mostly black but I could easily be someone else. It is very enjoyable to chose clothes for your other self, clothes you would never wear.
Some pictures seem like movies scenes. Did you have some kind of scenario in mind ?
Always. As I said, I always see the complex story, the whole world but what you show is one frame. It creates certain limitation, it also creates freedom. I want to give questions, not answers. I want people to hold on to their own explanation. When you look at the picture you should look at/into yourself.
To me it looks like there is a bit of Wes Anderson in that picture, as well as Alice in Wonderland… Could you tell us about your inspirations ?
I’m not inspired with neither of these references:) But there are many more are use and appropriate. I would mention here Tara the Android, Edward Hopper, The Sims.
When I asked you on which series you would like to be interviewed, you picked up this one. Why ?
I usually pick one of project which had not been interviewed too often. Otherwise I feel like I have to repeat the same answers and that not interesting:)
Is there a specific question that you wish I’d ask ?
I wish people don’t ask how I started with photography, I just stopped answering that recently:)
Maybe: What do you think is a future of the image?
And – you could see it coming – what would have you answered ?
The future of image is uncertain, which is both worrying and great.
It reaches its biggest glory, which predicts the fall. Image is devaluating and so is image-maker. Creating and publishing became more open than ever; the world gets fed with an enormous amount of content, of which most is overlooked- I personally find it democratic and fair, that everyone has only a little chance, but everyone has it. We live in an exciting time where image can shift to some new forms. I don’t know if I will be able to adapt or if I won’t.
I’m truly curios to witness this, no matter what my position will be.
What would you love to work on in the future ?
Anything that pushes my boundaries and my mind further. I would rather follow this concept than concrete wishes, because our dreams change as we grow.
Thanks a lot.