Interview: Katerina Michalopoulou, Antonios Toulomis & Anna Mouzaki
Luca Curci talks with Katerina Michalopoulou, Antonios Toulomis & Anna Mouzaki during CONTEMPORARY VENICE 2021 – 9TH EDITION, at THE ROOM Contemporary Art Space and at Misericordia Archives.
Antonios Touloumis and Katerina Michalopoulou are architect engineers and digital artists. Diploma and MSc in Architectural Engineering at the School of Architecture of the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA). MSc in Digital Arts of Athens School of Fine Arts, and Ph.D. candidates of NTUA. They have participated in and have been presented with awards in international and nationwide competitions, conferences and architectural project exhibitions. Both their architectural and theoretical works have been published and have participated in collective editions of several architectural books. Anna Mouzaki studied classical singing at the Hellenic Conservatory, in the class of Ch. Karakatsoulis, and classical repertory with the soprano M. Koromantzou and the barytone Fr. Voutsinos. Having finished her studies in higher musical theory under G. Spyropoulos, she continued with classes in musical composition under J. Augerinos. She also attended more advanced courses in composition (Th. Antoniou), Music for Media – Film Scoring (Αl. Mouza), Sound & Sound Synthesis, Sound Spatialisation & Localisation Strategies (Μ. Koutsomichali), and Musical Rhetoric (G. Kouvaras, Ε.Τzanetoulakou). She has been a member of the Chorus of the Greek National Radio for a period of 12 years under the direction of A. Kontogeorgiou. In this capacity, she took part in classical and modern repertory concerts, both in Europe and in the United States of America. Individually, she has taken part in opera productions of the Megaron – The Athens Concert Hall. She has also performed with the Orchestra of Colors, as well as with Britain’s National Symphony Orchestra. She founded the musical ensembles KELADOS and FILODOS, with the collaboration of the Thomas Tamvakos Archive of Greek Composers, in 2002 and 2003 respectively. The aim of both ensembles is the dissemination of modern Greek classical music of the 20th Century, with some compositions, including her own, being performed for the first time. She is currently working as a professor of classical singing in the Hellenic Conservatory and the Municipal Conservatory of Ag. Anargyroi, and as a professor of higher musical theory in the Municipal Conservatory of Atalante.
Luca Curci – What is art for you?
Katerina Michalopoulou, Antonios Toulomis & Anna Mouzaki – Art is a way of being in the world (cosmos).
LC – What are you currently working on?
KM, AT & AM – We are currently working on the theme of the linguistic metaphor, and in particular we study Mallarmé’s “Igitur”, a poem written in prose, where we develop the idea of transcribing the non-present instant of midnight, where anything may occur, in a projection mapping work.
LC – Do visitors’ suggestions enrich yourself and your art?
KM, AT & AM – Definitely; we address our work to visitors’ experience, so any success of our work depends on visitors’ reception of its intrinsic meaning.
LC – Which art themes do you pursue? What is your preferred subject, if there is any?
KM, AT & AM – We are constantly working on relations between disciplines that form our embodied temporal experience such as architecture, music, cinema, dance and poetry.
LC – How is being an artist nowadays?
KM, AT & AM – We strongly believe that nowadays appears stronger than ever before the necessity for artists’ evaluation by society. It seems to us that art could be a means of social consistency.
LC – What do you think about the concept of this exhibition? How did it inspire you?
KM, AT & AM – It seems that the exhibition theme meets our idea of interpreting and transcribing Mallarmé’s “Igitur” in a new artwork. Since the original work is performed by a projection mapping, it requires our embodied experience, our physical presence which is to be questioned as far as its perceptual limits are concerned. The projection mapping reaches a significant meaning in our work. Usually, in the aforementioned technique, the projected image is associated with its projection surface and acquires substance only through privileged views. In all other places, the picture created is false or ambiguous. This kind of image ambiguity turns out to be a syntactic mechanism in our work, just as the ambiguity of words meaning in “Igitur”. So, in “Le minuit – M(o)in(s) [DEUX] nuit” we ‘design’ visitors’ embodied experience so as to create an infinite changing landscape. This idea of setting, usually considered as firmed, syntactic elements of our perception, in question, in movement, in order to reach new meanings, turns out to be both a possible version of the exhibition concept, and an interpretation of Mallarmé’s idea on language, too.
LC – We were attracted by your last artistic production, has the video presented been created for the exhibition or as a part of preexisting works?
KM, AT & AM – “Le minuit – M(o)in(s) [DEUX] nuit”, is a work in progress where space and sonic elements are composed in accordance with Mallarmé’s “Igitur” linguistic syntax. The video presented in the exhibition is a model for a future real projection mapping that is designed to take place in Kerameikos, the great ancient Athenian cemetery. In particular, our work will be projected in the street of tombs, on the retaining wall of Lysimachides burial precinct. The soundtrack included in the video projection is an excerpt of the music work entitled: “M(o)in(s) [DEUX] nuit” (11’58″). In particular, it is an attempt to interpret and transcribe the first of the five parts of Mallarmé’s dramatized poem “IGITYR” written in prose. In this first part, “Le Minuit”, the poet defines the place and time of the drama that is to be developed later, through their non-definition. He refers to midnight, to this non-existent present instant 00.00 when anything may occur. The new artwork is projected in the corner of a wall. The corner is considered to be a generative element of the space and in our work corresponds to the ‘absolute’. Numbers are moving on the surface of the walls and define with absolute measurements the coordinates of the points that they pass through. The coordinates are visible from everywhere. The projection is synchronized with a music poem. When the voice refers to midnight, the projection of shapes and lines on the corner begins. Instantly – due to the right perspective – reveals a new three-dimensional space that will be transformed in a few seconds. After the completion of the transformation, the projection of the space measurements returns. The measurements remain until we reach “Midnight” again, where a new transformation is revealed. These transformations are randomly retrieved from a stored library. Midnight is signed by the instant distortion and anamorphosis of a corner of the retaining wall and is visible as ‘real and present” only from a specific position of the observer, the walker. The syntactic ambiguity of meaning in Mallarmé’s “Igitur” is attempted to be applied to the ambiguity of image and sound in “Igitur (Le minuit)_Projected”. Finally, we doubt the present both through our doubt about what we see and what we hear. Hence we are forced to look for what does not exist and is, after all, the object of the poem. The musical rhetoric technique was used in composing the new artwork. This technique reminds us of Mallarmé’s use of words; it is the sculpture of sound and time, a technique of composition and performance, with a very strong, philosophical and theoretical background, facilitating the liberation of modern music from the shackles of the mundane. As our work is a synthesis of optical and sonic elements it has been presented, in a previous form, in Ghent’s Orpheus Institute Doctoral Conference, titled “Imagining the Non-Present” which was held in September 2021.
LC – What is your idea about ITSLIQUID GROUP?
KM, AT & AM – As referred to on the ITSLIQUID opening web page, its platform is based on fluidity, motion, connection and accessibility. Mallarmé’s statement that motion is a notion seems to link our point of view with ITSLIQUID.
LC – Would you suggest collaboration with us? What do you think about our services?
KM, AT & AM – We would certainly suggest any collaboration with you since your services are so well staffed by people who so thoroughly care about artists’ issues. So, we would like to make a proposal, that is to create in collaboration with you a corresponding new work based on Venice. We believe that our ideas could adapt to the landscape and history of this city and enrich our exploration. It will be another eternal return to the ancestors just as “Igitur” is set to do in Mallarmé’s poem or in the tombs of Kerameikos.
LC – Do you think ITSLIQUID GROUP can represent an opportunity for artists?
KM, AT & AM – The ITSLIQUID GROUP exhibitions challenge the artists to rethink their work and communicate it through new technologies and new types of synergies.