Soliman Lopez

'We are at the historical moment that I call "the threshold” towards homo augmented or towards homo sapiens' (Soliman Lopez)

Celeste artwork, 2022
Celeste artwork, 2022

Through a beacon equipped to capture images of the sky in real time, the system extracts the colours and combines them in a new interface. credit. Soliman Lopez

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Gen-HDM, storage of DNA-like information inside 3D printed objects (here, a capsule). Harddiskmuseum
Gen-HDM, storage of DNA-like information inside 3D printed objects (here, a capsule). Harddiskmuseum

Founded by artist Solimán López, the Harddiskmuseum is a unique art repository that answers the questions arising from new temporal codes of humanity, artistic production and cultural heritage. credit. Soliman Lopez

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set, Oleas. Collection Static
set, Oleas. Collection Static

credit. Soliman Lopez

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Celeste artwork, 2022
Celeste artwork, 2022

Through a beacon equipped to capture images of the sky in real time, the system extracts the colours and combines them in a new interface. credit. Soliman Lopez

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Solimán López (* 1981, Burgos), develops his artistic production between his studio in Paris, France (UAS, Updated Art Studio) and ESAT LAB, Innovation department that he runs at ESAT, Escuela Superior de Arte y Tecnología de Valencia, Spain. He is Founder of  Harddiskmuseum and Innovation Director at ESAT (Escuela Superior de Arte y Tecnología).

Solimán is a contemporary artist specialized in art, science, sociology and technology. Technically, his works are achieved thanks to the combination of 3D techniques, electronics, software programming, artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality and digital synchronization. Among his most recent projects is the development of DAI, an identity document built by an artificial intelligence, which gives rise to a new imaginary of culture, society and humanity in the XXI century.

His career has been built on festivals, biennials, art centers, events and museums in Spain, South America, United States, China, South Korea, and Europe (France, Germany, England, Italy, Switzerland): Biennial of Digital Art Brazil, Biennial Nemo Paris (Variations Art Fair), Chronus Art Center Shanghai, ZKM Karlsruhe, CEART Fuenlabrada Madrid, or Nuit Blanche Paris 2019 are amongst his highlights. His work as a researcher in new media has been shared in universities such as University Carlos III Madrid, Google Campus Madrid, TEDx Valladolid, MediaLab Prado, Madrid or Technarte Bilbao.

MADELEINE SCHWINGE:

Can art foster social change, and what role can artists and their work play in this? More in depth, can they take a leading role?

SOLIMAN LOPEZ:

Throughout history we have seen how the figure of the artist has been displaced from the first sphere of society to the redoubt of “art". Since classical Greece we have been using concepts derived from words such as democracy, but it is true that many other things have changed. The artist was once the leader of a group for many reasons. He belonged to the world of politics, taking place in congresses and places of power and decision-making. Nowadays the artist has become connected to the space of the spectacle and when a work goes beyond that place it is criticised and even denounced for not belonging to that environment. Fortunately, the democratisation of technology, its access, open source and the internet in general have opened up new possibilities of manifestation in many areas. While we are more aligned than ever through technologies, it is also a time in history when we have more opportunities to create new products of thought by accessing an almost unlimited community. To this end, we must attend to a very important word in our time. "Media". The artist to achieve this goal must become his own medium, mediating and communicating his ideas and projects. We have gone from the sad and lonely artist from the top floor of an old building in Paris to the artist who works with luxury brands, tours Silicon Valley and has millions of followers with whom he interacts daily via Instagram, Twitter, Discord or Facebook. The future will undoubtedly focus on the development of personalised metaverses in which the artist will be the king and owner of that space, displaying all his potential, imaginary and concepts to a wide community that will be able to enter and exit, follow or unfollow.

MS:

In a time of radical upheaval and crisis, can we still hope for a better future? What impact can narrative have on the process of building such a future?

SL:

I am one of those who think that a large part of our problems stem from our own evolution. We are a rare species in a sustainable ecosystem without us. Humans are a disruption in many ways and this creates mismatches with the environment. Surely, the only way we can become sustainable or escape from this planet is technology and its positive application. Narratives have always been important. To make art is to understand a language, just as the poet is able to make poetry thanks to his deep knowledge of letters, the artist working with new technologies must have internalised the poetics associated with those tools. This is the same thing that happened at great moments in the history of art, such as impressionism. Thanks to the industrial revolution, artists began to see the landscape in movement from the train seat, which forever changed their perception of time and space, resulting in a new way of seeing the world through painting. This critical look at reality, induced by new technologies, is what helps us to find new paths and narratives. In short, finding the poetry in the new technological solutions available will help us to find the possible and positive narrative to face the non-technical, but conceptual, psychological, ethical and moral solutions of the immediate future.

MS:

What could be the premises of a transdisciplinary dialogue (between art, culture and other disciplines) capable of triggering a social transformation? In your own work, what expertise or practices could go in the direction of such transdisciplinarity?

SL:

First of all, I believe that we need to re-examine the terminology we use to describe the world. For a long time we have been dragging along concepts and terms that no longer correspond to reality. Analysing these terms, such as the term reality and its connotations (virtual, augmented, mixed...) we realise that our definitions are no longer valid and that we have to qualify them in order to understand them. I advocate more for the acceptance that we live in a "virreality" in which all kinds of hybridisation are logical and defining of our immediate present. Virreality is based in the assumption of having two different layers of information, the physical and the intangible one or the atoms and the bits. Understanding that science, programming, biology, physics, chemistry and mathematics are part of units of knowledge to be applied to art, is another of the great acceptances that we must propose. In this way, it will not be strange to find hybridisations in the world of art, which by definition must respond to the challenges of the present. Today, everything is amplified. The binary is multiplied by two with quantum computing, society is no longer polarised into male-female and a long etcetera of examples offer us a new polyhedral view of our new reality. Starting a project with this acceptance is a key to innovation as it positions us in a critical thinking in which everything is possible thanks to technology.

 

MS:

Assuming it is possible to build a better world on the ruins of the old one, what might it look like? What would you hope for in a better world?

SL:

We already know that our current activity is unsustainable. We create too many objects that we barely use for a few hours and we throw them into the sea. Human beings will be able to survive in the near future if we reduce our impact, and the technologies of the intangible can help us to do so. I imagine a future in which humans have understood that the most important thing in our lives is not what is touched and stored in the world of atoms, but what is intangible and invisible and belongs to other worlds related to consciousness and bits. A sustainable future for humanity must be conditioned by this understanding. Technologies such as augmented or virtual reality and of course NFTs can help us to migrate this consumption towards other more sustainable spaces in order to face a better future. 

On the other hand, I imagine something that I am not too happy about. I think we are starting to create a species split. On the one hand we will have digitally and physically hyper-connected societies and on the other hand we will only have societies that are physically connected. We are currently at the historical moment that I call "the threshold”. A threshold towards homo augmented or towards homo sapiens as we currently understand it. The new generations have this double look towards technology. Either they are 100% into it or they are directly outside it and don't want to know anything about it.

 

MS:

It is often said that artists (and creative people at large) have a unique ability to constantly search for the new, starting from scratch again and again, relentlessly. What strategies or rituals do you use when you start a new project?

SL:

As in any creative process, the most important point to start is to observe. Without the ability and patience to observe, it is very difficult to draw conclusions and, above all, to identify problems. Finally, art is a personal solution to a global problem approached from the point of view of communication, which forces us to make certain aesthetic, visual and plastic decisions according to the individual's own capacities. In this sense, when we talk about having patience and observing, I don't mean standing in front of the window watching the world go by until something happens, but rather having a continuous attitude in which, as a subject, you are the window itself. Nobody looks through it but you embody the functionality of the window, which is to let something pass through to the other side. In my case I like to keep up to date with everything that is happening in the world, new technologies, new social paradigms, new challenges encountered. It is also important to listen to the new generations who have a more direct look at the contemporary with less historical and personal conditioning. And above all, surround yourself and listen to those who have talent, who are your team and your trust. In conversation, whether with yourself or with others, is the definitive step to create something magical.

The interview was conducted in November 2021

https://solimanlopez.com

https://harddiskmuseum.com