Magda Buczek's Random Selection
We spoke to Polish collaborative artist Magda Buczek about her project and interactive journal series Random Selection. She's an established female mixed media artist, photographer and creator who thrives in collaborations. Currently working and living in Warsaw, Poland Magda's work has previously been shown at Doomed Gallery in Dalston, London. Her work has won some impressive acknowledgments including the photobook of the year in self publishing in Poland during 2014 at the Fotofestival Lódź. Her previous work Justina&CO.UK artbook was among the 12 shortlisted works in the MACK First Book Award in London. Her photobook is created using interesting algorithms for the work layout the end product is intended to imitate the act of online browsing or meandering through images. In this technological age her work tries to translate the online age into something tactile. In terms of the work itself - what's not to love! Interesting layouts coupled with equally great images and text.
Abstract: Random selection is a default storytelling of jet set generation. This book plays with the idea of intimate travel journal* and interactive blog at the same time. It is a story about a journey with its visual itinerary stored on tumblr and texts collected on personal devices while online. It reflects a state of a limbo of online/offline where physical and metaphorical mobility leads to the embrace of the sensual. Spirituality mutates into exotic, a fantasy of tropical or far north journey, interpreted by ephemeral and ever-changing Internet interface. It strongly refers to Internet aesthetics. The main design goal was to convey all pros and cons of interactive media like responsiveness, cropped images, hyperlinks, non-linear storyline, image loading, photo filters. The basis of the layout was created by using feed of tagged images, that were later modified whenever necessary. The layout was determined by the algorithm. The physical book has impact on its digital references as well - by using new image collection and links, found only in the book. Both the book and the tumblr blog are considered an open form and the authors plan to reedit some of its elements in forthcoming editions.
PW: Tell us more about you and your artwork.
MB: “Random selection” is about experiencing reality in the time of cheap flights, funky WIFI and broken English. It is about how we see and navigate our lives though the screens of personal devices. The project consists of text collected on my iPhone and laptop when online and images: photos and digital collages.I produced them during my recent tropical and far north journeys .
“Random selection” is burgeoning like a mushroom - sometimes it takes a form of a hiphop/slam performance with glitch semi-karaoke animation, sometimes it is a distorted projection in a gallery space or disturbing GIF on my tumblr. The most physical form is a book that resembles the online user experience brought into a printed matter.
PW: How did you plan for this project? What was your creative process?
MB: I did not plan it. It was a B-side personal scrapbook conducted online. I also started to notice how constant travelling and staying in a limbo of good or bad wifi shapes my way of looking at things. The trigger for the book was my former collaboration with Emilia Obrzut aka Obszar Roboczy. We had super fun working on our previous art book, “Justina&CO.UK” and got the “photobook of the year in self publishing” title in Poland in 2014. As a result we were awarded with a high quality print of the next project. So here comes “Random Selection”. Emilia suggested a risky move: let’s NOT design any layout, let’s leave it to the algorithm. And so she did, that is why the photos in our book are sometimes cropped at the bottom of the page. Same feeling like when you are scrolling images on your screen.
PW: What work inspires or has inspired you?
MB: I try to position my work as close to everyday experience as possible. That is why I use nail varnish or pink Molotovs instead of proper paint. Texts often come from my own online correspondence. I get inspired by literally everything, Instagram filters, Lana del Rey videos, stupid WIFI passwords, books I read. Random Selection was definitely inspired by Maggie Nelson’s “Bluettes” and Frank O’Hara “Lunch poems”.Also an old, weird and gloomy TV show, “Wild palms”. I love art books of Anouk Kruithof and photos of Viviane Sassen, too. Recently, I am a huge fan of Hannah Black’s “Dark pool party”. Female artists rule.
PW: Are there any artistic movements you enjoy in particular and why?
MB: I delightfully enjoy sad girl phenomena in the Internet though I am probably too old and too joyful to identify with it. Since I mentioned O’Hara - I’d note New York School, as well. But really, I do not get any movement that would narrow its followers to specific medium or any type of a code. Mixing art people with the rest of humans is the best way to balance your language and avoid ghettoising yourself.
PW: Do you have any opinions or ideals underlying your art?
MB: As above. Plus stay playful. Random Selection is so tactile and interactive. You relate it to the internet and an online source. Does this journal reflect our dystopian technological age or are you celebrating it?
PW: What made you decide on this subject?
MB: It is a celebration though maybe a critical celebration. I do not agree that URL limits our presence IRL. It enhances it and changes our perception. Our senses work in a different mode, directed by an offline/online pendulum. Slow download, VR, broken English, even cracks on your smartphone - it all changes the way we receive reality. Reality is less pure and direct yet more authentic. The surplus that comes with it is the space I wanted to investigate, distill and mediate into more or less traditional forms of expression: a book, an image, a gallery space.
PW: Any words for aspiring contemporary print artists?
MB: The key is collaboration and exchanging ideas. My work would not look like this and might not happen at all without Emilia Obrzut who designed the book and monitored its production, Michal Borowski who sets my work into motion and glitches it up, Hiroaki Murakami who slams it out, musicians from Transmissja that improvise at performances. You start with the content.The rest is about the circuit of human energy. Eventually, the story belongs to all.