Protey Temen, mixed media artist, HSE arttutor 2018-03-26
Grey Boundaries Between Art and Design

Questions which art and design faced have changed over time. Art fed culture until the cultural revolution. 20th century culture began to diverge from design. In the second part of the 20th century at the time of pop-art, when arts started to look again at what is going on in the world of consumption, culture interacted with design again. Boundaries between art and design today are grey. The artist can work with the designer’s tools and the designer can work with those of the artist. Every time, evaluating every particular case is necessary for understanding what it is – arts or design. Design is usually considered more entertaining and directed at positivity while art can ask unanswerable questions about eternity and the evanescence of existence.

For 10 years, I worked on abstract projects inclined towards medieval fine graphics – skeletons and skulls. As boundaries began to blur, my work began to involve stains and squiggles in different forms. In recent years, I’ve begun involving audiences with my work. This is very new for me, as I am accustomed to alienation from the audience. At a design studio of Tsarapin that I have established, a group of people meet and follow certain rules and carry out a set of actions to collectively create a piece of art.

It is more interesting to work with people who are unexposed to art than with professionals, as there are new opportunities. For example, in a project we created this year, squiggles were appearing on the screen and the visitor was proposed to copy them into a sheet of paper. At some point, the visitor had to make the decision to finish and hang the picture on the wall. The picture was signed by me and by the visitor. The exhibition took place for 2-3 months. We collected a pile of over a thousand sheets. In the end, we identified groups of people whom we felt understood what they were doing, who thought that they understood and who didn’t understand at all.

Students are divided into two groups – web and animation. In their project, everyone makes a separate video. All these vidoes are brought together into one stream like in the broadcasting of a TV channel. We also have an exhibition called “Cola and Oreshki”; a random name which has stuck. Once in two weeks, a student becomes a curator, sets a topic and discusses options with others. The whole production process of real exhibitions taking place in real life at exhibition sites goes this way. There is always emotional dialogue and interaction among students. It results in a real exhibition. I can’t single out an exhibition because the dialogue is constant. I like the frame of this model because every participant must build a dialogue with the previous exhibitions. It’s impossible to ignore what was done before you and thus you find yourself in a new context. This kind of experience changes mindsets because before you didn’t know how exhibition preparation process was going on, you didn’t have an idea how the exhibition was going. Experimenting we tried all variants of work: numerical, material, questioning the essence of existence. The penultimate exhibition, occuring under seven names, brings up the question of human formation at the age of 20 and exploring what is going on around this human. This spring we are invited to work by two public platforms New Wing of Gogol House and Bogorodskoye Exhibition Hall.

At the time of its development, art started asking questions that hadn’t been asked before. For instance, what is a painting and must a picture necessarily represent something? If a picture shows something specific, it does not work with the theme of painting, but merely tries to save the projection onto the canvas. This opportunity was given by photography. People started to move to color as such. Duchamp exhibited a urinal, making the concept of Ready Made. What can be a work of art? Can any thing be artwork? Of course, it can be. Art evolved from conceptualism, where its basis is obvious: there is a chair standing in the middle, there is some text to the left, and a picture of the chair to the right. The result is a trinity, which carries on answering questions like what is important in art. Why may contemporary art seem complicated? Because when there is work, other artists participate in the process and constantly complement it, contributing to the creativity. The moment of commenting happens. If at first the work talked about revolution, later come comments on revolution’s ideas that go a little further than the original message. Since many years passed, comments have constantly increased in numbers. It's like a version of GitHub for programmers. First, one announces and shares a project one did with others. Then, people make branches and, recalling the initial work, complement and modify it. A major feature of art is that everybody constantly comments on each other’s work. As soon as people seem to find an answer to the question of what is art and seem to agree on it, avant-garde artists ask: Will we now sit and think that we have reached the end and realized what art is? This is an ambiguous situation.

Video art, which is now perceived normally, attempts to surrender the opportunity to show real art. Before video, there was sculpture and painting, which was palpable. Now you can buy a JPEG file, that is in fact nothing, on the Internet - something a great artist painted and sold at auction for a lot of money. You buy a simple file and store it on your laptop or your phone.

I find it interesting to look at something new, especially from technological points of view. But I am also interested in painting the way it was earlier. I've been involved in digital animation and video art, which is realized only virtually, for a long time, but now I am more interested in any old piece of paper, painted with a pen or a pencil. It’s important for things to be real.

This section is about a tendency to rebuild and renovate old factories to design centers. Looking at Flacon, Artplay and Winzavod, perhaps this experiment had flying colors. It came to us from other countries. The concept of “loft” is that an artist needs big spaces in order to work. If you use paint, you can’t work at home because the smell won’t let you sleep. Similarly, a sculptor can’t work with his materials at home. For the masses, art is not a business, and it rarely pays off. That raises the question of an affordable rental. The cheapest rent is in unused industrial premises. High ceilings, different planning, a possibility to share with colleagues create a cluster, which automatically raises the level of debate to the next step. This leads to the creation of an artistic environment. When artists come somewhere and do something with the place, and everyone thinks it’s great, an atmosphere is created. At that moment, an opportunity arises to repair the factory and rent out really expensive lofts. Artists then move to other districts, now considered to be abandoned, and start reconstructing them according to the same plan. This is how we are trying to make a new reality with paints and colors.