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Timur Novikov

A Few Words about My Working Method

 

Contemporary art is becoming increasingly temporary. The demand that art be “fresh” generates an escalating sense of obsolescence: the duration of an artwork’s relevance is rapidly approaching the shelf life of food products.

In this situation, artists rarely have to worry about their viewers: dialogue with the audience is reduced (at best) to a dialogue with critics, and this conversation takes place in a constantly evolving jargon completely inaccessible to outsiders. An attempt to return clarity to the visual idiom might seem like a naïve way of resisting a process analogous to the biblical confusion of tongues at the Tower of Babel.

 

However, modern man has significantly mutated both in his perception of real space and of all manner of images.

 

Let us examine this process. We will conditionally divide visual perception into two main components: spatial perception and semiotic perception.

 

The current generation has been shaped mainly under the strong impact of visual works based on direct linear perspective, which has formed the matrix of spatial perception (classical fine art, photography, cinema, television).

 

The recent development of visual works based on different spatial constructions (animation, comics, video clips with various visual effects, and TV program title sequences, as well as altered viewpoints – from an airplane, from outer space – and, of course, contemporary art) has shaken the fixed perception of the world provided by linear perspective. The removal of this fixity can lead to a sense of derealization harmful to the population’s physical health. Consciousness in this situation requires a new system of spatial construction. In the process we have just described, semiotic perception becomes newly relevant. (We might recall here military emblems, traffic signs, Masonic symbols, state seals and flags, trademarks, the various symbols brandished by all manner of religious, social, community and informal organizations, and science, which employs a vast number of conventional semiotic images.) Computerization, which allows us to obtain images in any imaginary system, has played a decisive role in this process. These factors are shaping a fundamentally new audience.

 

It was with this putative audience (its perception shifted into the semiotic sphere) in mind that I attempted to develop the semiotic system for the construction of space that I have used in my work over the past five years.

 

The essence of the method consists in how the viewer’s consciousness defines the nature of a visualized space depending on the presence therein of a sign that dictates the basic characteristics of that space. For example, any surface containing the sign of a “ship” will be read as “water.”

 

Unfortunately, space considerations do not permit me to elaborate on this topic, which is worthy of substantive research.

 

In conclusion, I would like to add that, in my opinion, language in art (as in life) must primarily serve to transmit information and generate sensations, rather than be demonstrated for its own sake to others.

 

Timur