In November 2016 my friend Katy had the glorious idea to interview me. Since this blog underwent a relaunch, all old entries are gone, and some are lost for good. So I had to browse through my emails until I found this ol’ interview. Thank you Katy! Here we go:
Q: You have a number of online names or personas. How far do these divides permeate? For example, is your creative process different for name / login?
sw: This is a complex question. I do at times have different names for different projects, yet I feel like I, as the person behind them, am the common denominator. I’m not trying to be anonymous at all costs when using a certain pseudonym, but I do enjoy taking a little step away from myself as a person by using a different name. The creative process feels like the same thing for everything I do, as it originates in my head, so I always feel some kind of integrity towards what I want to represent or express artistically.
Q: You articulate in a number of mediums – painting, photography, writing, animation, to name a few. I wanted to know if you start your work with a disembodied idea and then you seek to find the right medium in which to express this idea (like perhaps a multi-lingual person searching for the right language through which to articulate in the least compromising way*) or if you begin with the medium and the idea comes from that point? Or if neither apply, please elaborate.
sw: It starts with an idea. Disembodied idea is a good term for that. I tend to create very spontaneously (in all of the cases), and then work excessively for a couple of minutes or hours. In my case I think the ideas are born very quickly, it seems like they appear out of nothing. So I pick the medium after the idea came up. The only (partial) exception is perhaps photography, because it relies on what’s happening in the outside world (you have to have the camera ready to take a picture when someone catches a ball with their forehead, for example).
As for languages: Similar usage dependence issue as photography, for me at least. Even more: I almost always use English for everything I do. I’m never really aware of looking for the ‘least compromising’ way, as I’m rather focused on possibilities instead of limitations. Knowing that translation and language use always has to do with limitations though, I can see why people seek to reduce compromises when it comes to expressing their ideas.
Q: You’ve become increasingly interested in coding and web design. Do you consider this work as a creative practice and in what way? And if not, how would you position this work in relationship to your more traditionally ‘creative’ work.
sw: I think coding is the cleanest version of creation. It’s actually fascinating. You create something that makes sense or has meaning in whatever way, and it’s relatively free of references. In cultural areas artists often work with references, or they’re unintended but identified by the audience. References are not always controllable, making it difficult to completely overview the outcome. With coding you can have a more streamlined and pure realization of your idea. Yet coding requires a lot of knowledge of crucial details, so the learning process, or the process of developing skills in this area, is slow (at least for me).
I’m sometimes impatient when it comes to realizing an idea, and that’s why I’ve always appreciated ‘traditionally creative’ work for requiring (at times significantly) less effort. I won’t give up on coding though.
Q: A more personal question, you’ve mentioned wanting to find a work that demands you leave the house during winter. How do you see that the city of Berlin changes from season to season?
sw: Seasons are very crucial around here. The climate will decide whether you stay indoors or go outside. The reason for this is very simple, it’s just the temperature. In the summer you always have more options, like a BBQ or a nice hike. In the winter the hikes always seem more difficult and laborious, and not only them, but every step you’re taking outside of the house. You then stay indoors more, but as you’re constantly surrounded by the same setting, you need to constantly get something new into the setting. For example, many people would watch tv shows. I’d like to leave house more in the winter to have more of a change or dynamic in my day.
Q: I am interested in the period you spent in America and would like to know if, and to what extent, on returning from america you saw Germany and Russia in a new light? If so please expand. I only speak one language so am not sure if this is something people commonly feel, but ive experienced multi-lingual friends reference feeling something like this
sw: I guess you can feel the ‘old world order’ in everything on this continent. It’s applicable to Germany as well as Russia. I’m thinking architecture here, but also interior design, the look and feel of everything. Other than that, I’ve come to understand political or ideological differences a little better. Also I might tend to (want to) see more similarities between people of different origins, their beliefs and values. For example I think every culture would appreciate similar values, such as honesty or empathy. The appreciation of values and following these values might just be expressed in a different way or with different intensity with people from the US, Russia or Germany.