introduction to self-fulfilling prosecutions — Krysia Jopek [November 2019]
It’s a true pleasure to present the provocative digital collages of Leonard Zinovyev in this issue of diaphanous micro, 3.13. The virtual exhibition of 18 images that follows are an amazing sequence by a visual and literary artist. Each digital collage amazes me with its arresting nature; drawing the viewer/reader into its visual and linguistic space. Leonard fuses together seamlessly found art [cultural bits], literary texts, and psychological reality in the twenty-first century with seamless intelligence and a meticulous process of revision [discussed in his statement of poetics that follows the sequence]. He makes the end product look like it was easy for him to create, but the interview attests to the hard work involved in getting these digital collages perfect for him and the viewer/reader. Please enjoy self-fulfilling prosecutions; you’re in for a new diaphanous micro experience real pleasurable treat!
Striving Towards Averaging: virtual art exhibit
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Our Motto Says It All: A Statement of Poetics
Throughout history, beauty has been a subject matter of arts. There are as many ways of seeing beauty as there are viewers, a concept best described by proverbs like “Beauty is only skin-deep” and “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”
Beauty is everywhere. And so is poetry.
My mini-series of digital images, which includes visual found poems and visual texts, is dedicated to human perceptions of beauty – a thing that is not what it appears – due to cognitive bias.
– La nascità di Venere
A poem written by combining lines from essays about Sandro Botticelli’s painting “The Birth of Venus” and “The Scream” by Edvard Munch, as well as comments to a FB post about manufacturers of facial recognition prosthetic masks.
– The Waves
A “remix poem” composed of quotations from Virginia Woolf, where I substituted “beauty” for “averaging.”
– We know what we are
An “algorithmic poem” I assembled from Shakespeare quotes about beauty, altering a few words to produce a nonsense text.
– Striving towards averaging
A simple and clear-cut image that conveys a simple and clear-cut message. The keyword is made up of ten overlapping words “averaging” in various fonts.
– Averaging out of unattractive idiosyncrasies
You’ve guessed it: this is the way we humans perceive beauty – by ignoring individual unattractive traits while shifting attention towards averaged attractive ones, which is why I see these multiple copies of the same phrase crowded in the middle of the sheet, with the rest of the “canvas” deliberately left blank, as a perfect allegory for the phenomenon.
Transhumanism and Singularitarianism – nobody explains them better than Shakespeare!
– Kurzweil Remix feat. Shakespeare
A futurologist and a dramatist put their heads together to generate new lines (or to explain the fundamentals of science); but where one’ s a futurologist, two’s a crowd!
– survivorship bias
When mixed together, Wikipedia lines and excerpts from articles about cognitive bias
and quicksand, can tell a dramatic and somewhat confused story of an eastward trip.
– The Therapist
Can anyone recognize this therapist who has a veiled birdcage in the place of his body, with a hat atop of it? A thinly veiled structure in which birds are kept? A Magrittesque image as it is, but everything we see hides another thing.
Facebook comments to a post about an event easily identifiable as the Notre-Dame de Paris fire form a multilingual poem (you can find lines in English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Danish), presenting opinions that range in tone from heartbroken to philosophical.
– The burden
A found poem composed of my Facebook friend’s comments – essentially, a comprehensive survival guide to dealing with pathological proof-seekers.
– devouring time
Facebook comments are a prefect building material for poetry. My Facebook friends are wisest friends of all – this time, they succeeded in solving the mystery of time loss.
– Self-fulfilled prosecutions
That’s not karma, nor do negative thoughts create negative energies, we simply program ourselves to make our own bad prophecies come true.
If you are to think of a visual metaphor for a trauma, what kind of imagery readily springs to mind? Haunting imagery. A giant ghostly gun against a barren desert in the background, and a repetitive phantasmal phrase “Have the safety plan in place” running from the top to the bottom of the screen – an image that only lives in your mind, but it is always there. A monument to traumas. All sort of traumas – PTSD, inherited traumas, intergenerational traumas, epigenetically transmitted traumas.
– Monsters created by others
Fear not bad monsters that others want to impose on you. Even if those monsters are supplied in boxfuls.
– Don’t let monsters…
Brief instructions on how to hold monsters created for you at bay.
– A Stump in Scarlet
Another “algorithmic poem” – this time, a poetic assemblage from Sherlock Holmes’ wise quotes, reduced to preposterous absurd.
– Our motto says it all
How does “the cheerleader effect” work? Is it real? Averaging? Did you say “Averaging”?? Is the perception of beauty about averaging???
The question whether my own artwork is beautiful or ugly (or both, or maybe even neither) is open to discussion!
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Don’t Let Monsters Created by Others Eat You for Breakfast! — Leonard Zinovyev & Krysia Jopek talk digital art, inspiration, social media, etc.
How did you get involved with translation and to quote your biographical notes, the fields of “technology, science and medicine, including neuroscience, neurobiology, and cognitive science?”
Thinking back on my childhood, I can tell it all started in my school days. It would be a bit of an overstatement to say that I did badly academically when at school, though my teachers said so. I gave preferential treatment to a number of subjects, including history, biology, English, Russian, Russian literature, and physical education while disregarding or even overtly hating algebra, geometry, physics, and chemistry. I have always had dyscalculia – something I came to realize years later, though I have never consulted a health professional for that condition, but back then, teachers thought I was either lazy or stupid or both–a sad commentary on their competence. I worked part-time as a translator and interpreter while pursuing my studies at university; as soon as I graduated, I got hired by a translation services company on a full-time basis. In the following years, I worked full-time or part-time for a successive number of translation companies. Then I became a self-employed translator, and then I worked for a company again before I became a much sought-out translator. It was in the mid-2010s that I was first commissioned to translate a research report in neuroscience. Then there came more papers in neurobiology, neurochemistry, and cognitive science, to name a few.
What fascinates you the most about these burgeoning, complex fields?
Everything! Working on scientific reports and even four-hundred-page-long monographs, I discovered that science was not a boring drag—a discovery that made up for the scientific knowledge I missed when at school. Moreover, I found out that science can be a source of inspiration. While most poets tend to be fixated on their spiritual demands, I think it would be a great idea to poeticize science. Subversive as it is, this is my idea of poetry. And it was from articles on neurophysiology that I learned that the human brain was hardwired, evolutionally and genetically, to recognize beauty and to look for meaning.
What languages do you speak/read?
Russian, which is my native language; English and French in which I majored while in university; I also speak Italian and Dutch. I can read (but don’t speak) Spanish, Portuguese, Latin, Danish, and Swedish. I’m now learning German and Norwegian Bokmål, but Russian and English are my only working languages—I hardly ever translate to or from French, let alone other languages.
I’m curious about your formal and informal studies; what you studied in institutions and on your own.
I studied linguistics, pedagogy, and translation studies. But it was not until I got employed by my first full-time employer that I realized how scanty my knowledge was. Being a translator in science (or even an interpreter in business negotiations) is about being able to think on your feet–and having a clear view of the subject you are dealing with. Self-education was the way to go. It dawned on me that I did not have to think like a chemist when I was to translate a research article in chemistry, but I needed to be widely read on the subject to have an understanding of it. And the same goes for what I do artistically–I am a self-taught artist, a self-taught poet, and a self-taught fiction writer.
What led you to begin writing poetry and short stories in the late 1990s? Do you still write poetry and fiction?
In my view, going into the arts–any arts, putting pen to paper, etc., is about being dissatisfied with the authors you read, the movies you watch, the music you listen to, and so on and so forth–especially when you are in your late teens. Back then, I read a lot, yet I was unable to find any author who would more or less exactly live up to my expectations; so I thought the time was ripe for creating art of my own. Yes, I still write short fiction, including short stories, and flash fiction, as well as poetry; found poetry being my top priority. Another reason why I went into the arts was the creative impulses that came from within–I felt like I finally found my vocation.
What prompted/influenced/motivated your “shift” to digital collage art in 2006? Was this a gradual shift over time or sudden?
I was perfectly willing to involve as many artistic media as possible–and that seemed the only motivation behind my “shift” to collage art, so it is fair to say that the “shift” was a well-thought-out decision to try my hand at making something visually unusual and amusing. So, I tried–and failed. Disastrously. I tried again and again, doing more and more visual art. After all, art is about honing your skills. Art is the best of all lifelong personal development strategies ever conceived.
Who are your favorite visual artists, contemporary and traditional? What do you admire about their work?
I revere the Old Masters, and I admire the late 19th century Russian realist painters – the Guild of Traveler Artists (The Peredvizhniki). I love the 20th century surrealists–they all are paragons of perfection. I can spend hours, feasting my eyes on their artwork–and probably looking for inspiration! Among present-day artists: Michelangelo Pistoletto, Paolo Canevari, David Hockney, Jeremy Deller, and Barry Kite deserve mention. I like any art that is both witty and thought- provoking.
Favorite writers? I loved seeing the lines from Virginia Woolf, and I’m curious about what other writers you admire/revere.
I am a widely-read person. Sometimes I wonder whether my collage art is more influenced by literature rather than by the visual arts, or vice versa, or, maybe by both equally. Virginia Woolf, Marcel Proust, James Joyce, René Char, Italo Calvino, and Witold Gombrowicz are marvelous, and I was fascinated by Nanni Balestrini, Karl Holmqvist, and Kenneth Goldsmith.
How much time do you spend creating your digital collage art—as in how long can one image take [I’m sure there’s variance] and also, how much time of your day or week can you/do you typically devote to your art?
Creating a digital collage is always a time-consuming and effort-consuming process that normally takes hours; visual texts generally being even harder to produce than collages, so I devote at least two or three hours a day in any two or three days in a week to thinking over creative ideas, or writing, or making visual images. Sometimes I burn the midnight oil and stay up all night long, intent on cutting, pasting, erasing, and applying effects. Sometimes I can spend weeks redoing an image that won’t come out right. Of course, I don’t stay indoors for that long, but I keep revisiting my work-in-progress over and over until I get it to come out the way I want.
What is your process like from the blank screen to a finished product? I’m sure it’s different for each work, but generally, where do you get your ideas and inspiration and how do you “translate” those ideas into a digital collage? Do you walk around with notebooks, doodle on paper and/or on the computer, ipad, phone?
My brain brims over with creative ideas 24/7; not all of them are equally good. I carry around a pocketsize notebook to commit to paper those worth making into artistic products; thus, keeping my mind clean. The creative process is always much the same; it unfolds inside my head and feels like I have a recurrent urge to establish new connections between old things. While a creative idea is still vague in my mind’s eye, I go surfing the net for appropriate images; eventually, I stumble upon something that I can identify–intuitively–as good raw material for my collage, and that is when the idea begins to take shape in my mind. The rest is a matter of hard work that involves using graphic editors–sometimes, two or three at a time–until I get an image I want.
Why do you prefer digital art to conventional arts?
Digital images are everywhere and are, therefore, readily accessible. They are malleable and workable, and it is fun combining and modifying them to make something unexpectedly innovative. Contrary to popular belief that making collage art is a no-brainer, using raster graphic software is sometimes much trickier than any conventional painting methods, e.g., watercolor or oil painting. Digital collage art is the new rock’n’roll. Digital collage art is easy to publish online and to spread via social media. Digital collage art is never boring; it is the simplest way of sending a clear message to the world: “Don’t let monsters created by others eat you for breakfast!”
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Leonard Zinovyev is a visual artist, poet, and fiction writer based somewhere in the world. He was born on March 15, 1979.
A translator and interpreter in technology, science and medicine, including neuroscience, neurobiology, and cognitive science – hence his current artistic interest in all of the above – he took up writing poetry and short stories as far back as in the late 1990s, and digital collage art in 2006.
As of now, Leonard is into digital self-publishing and composing visual texts, found poetry, and “remix poems,” tapping into almost any source – from newspaper editorials, business contracts, pop scientific articles, and research reports to classical poetry and even Facebook comments, hacking original texts into bits and pieces to produce something new and ironic.
“Poetry can be found anywhere, and anything can be made into poetry” is his motto.82