Is artificial intelligence art?
According to Radina Yotova, a young visual artist with an eye on man and his future in a universe of technology, the answer is clear and definite: “No”.
However, artificial intelligence is present in most of her works to make the viewer look critically at the whole picture and “realize that we all have a responsibility and play a huge role in the development of these algorithms”.
Radina Yotova divides her daily life between Sofia and The Hague and is part of the new generation of artists with the ambition to enrich the appearance of local art, bringing to it the experience gained on the international scene. In 2022, she graduated from the Academy of Arts in The Hague and this year she will present her graduation project to the public at the MELBA design festival.
Radina’s video installation, Now You See Me: Re-Appropriating the Visual Landscape of Our Digital World, will be presented within the framework of the “Diploma Project” exhibition, in which graduation theses of students in various fields are presented – from sculpture, through design and illustration, to scenography and fashion.
Who is Radina, what do the clashes between man and machine look like in the eyes of a young artist and what are the points of contact between Bulgaria and the Netherlands in the arena of art, you can find out from our conversation:
Radina, you work in the field of digital art. How would you describe the concept of “digital art” to someone visiting your exhibition for the first time?
Everyone has a different understanding of what we call ‘digital’ and what we call ‘art’. Many people associate digital art with computer graphics, 3D modeling, special effects, and the recently hyped generative imaging models. For me, the definition of digital art hides something much deeper and more intriguing. Digital art can be seen as a particular kind of form of inquiry. It is the artist’s attempt to reflect on the rapidly developing technological environment in which we live and to look for its limits.
By experimenting with new media, the artist has the opportunity to explore how technology affects social development in society. To sum up, I don’t see technology only and only as a kind of tool that I can handle in the work process, but as the main focus to explore through the work.
Which artists do you follow? And where do you get information about art?
I follow a lot of contemporary artists. Regarding where I get information from, mainly from various exhibitions, events and, of course, the Internet. I am happy because I am getting to know the Bulgarian scene more and more and I understand that here too there are events, festivals and discussions that give us the opportunity to gather and exchange experiences with like-minded people.
Is the environment in our country favorable for the development of contemporary art?
I strongly believe that with each passing year the potential to develop as a successful artist in Bulgaria increases. More and more young people, myself included, are returning to Bulgaria with the aim of developing the art scene here as well. This gives me motivation that in the future there will be more and more scope for creative people.
Artificial intelligence is at the heart of many of your works. For that matter, is artificial intelligence art?
Here my answer is short and clear – NO!
We all know that the original idea of this type of algorithm is not to create so-called generative art. It’s a well thought out strategy to get the public involved in the process of training all these machines. This is exactly why I explore artificial intelligence in my work. I want to make the viewer analyze and look critically at the whole picture to realize that we all have a responsibility and play a huge role in the development of these algorithms.
Where then are the limits of artificial intelligence that should not be crossed?
Unfortunately, those limits, if you ask me, have long since been crossed. As with everything else in the modern world, artificial intelligence is regulated by a few large corporations. That is, there is always a certain type of ideology and power that stands behind artificial intelligence and navigates how this type of technology is trained, distributed, and used. I strongly hope that a more functional way to regulate the use of this type of technology will be found in the future.
Tell us more about your graduation project, Now You See Me?
The Internet Collective Visual Archive is part of a widely used dataset. The visual artifacts we leave online are collected by scientists and used to rationalize, replicate, and automate cognitive processes like human vision. By fragmenting our perception into predefined parameters, a “strange universe” is created. It is formed on the basis of the algorithmic abstraction of human awareness, understanding and perception.
Now You See Me: Re-appropriating the Visual Landscape of Our Digital World is an interactive video installation exploring the absurdity that arises from trying to mimic human perception with algorithms. Using a real-time object recognition model, the installation brings the world of abstraction into our physical space by placing the viewer on the plane of mathematical observations.
You graduated relatively recently. What drew you to the Royal Academy of Arts in The Hague?
The thing that attracted me to go to the Netherlands is the high level of development in the field of art. The environment there is favorable for any budding artist to experiment and discover the direction in which he wants to develop.
What excites your Academy colleagues? In general, what kind of art do you think this generation of new artists will create?
In the Academy I graduated from, the form of education is much more experimental and alternative to the type of education we know in Bulgaria. This has given me and my colleagues a huge opportunity to develop and explore topics that interest us without entering within the framework of a specific program. We have always strived to be relevant to social development and to contribute to it in one way or another as a consequence of our projects that we develop.
Is there a place and platforms in our country for professional criticism?
Nowadays, there are many different platforms from which one can get information and understand more about the art scene in Bulgaria. “Komplekt” is a good example of how a team of young people tries to unite the community of artists and provide a safe field for constructive criticism and development in order to grow and popularize art in our country.
And finally, what are you looking forward to with the greatest interest at the current edition of the Melba Festival?
Everything. The Melba Festival is one of the best developed platforms for visual art in our country and beyond. Every year we are surprised with a new and exciting program, so don’t miss the opportunity to visit it.
For the sixth consecutive year, the MELBA design festival, which will take place from November 2 to 12, 2023, meets the audience with some of the most significant names in the fields of typography and graphic design, illustration, architecture, product and industrial design. The organizers from “Komplekt” offer a rich program with a one-day symposium with lectures by European artists of the contemporary design scene, various exhibitions, workshops and discussions within the festival.
This year’s edition is the sixth in a row and has proven successful in highlighting the potential of design, igniting collaborations, bringing valuable international experience and presenting local artists in an international context.
You can see Radina’s exhibition from November 2 to 12 at the UniCredit Studio gallery (Sveta Nedelya Square, 7, Sofia.
You can see the full program of MELBA HERE.