“In the end, personal experience is important. It doesn't work without them.” – Alex Heimkind in an interview about art and digitality with Rhea and Pauline as part of their studies metropolitan culture the hcu
Since this year at the latest, it has become clear that the developments of digitization have become indispensable in the cultural sector as well. Although the art industry recognized the relevance of various forms of media expression at the end of the last century, the majority of artistic exchange continued to take place analogously for a long time. Questions arise about both accessibility and the challenges of digital structural change. Anyone who has dealt with their answer early on has a clear advantage today. Alex Heimkind was one of the first players to give artistic content digital visibility. He is the founder and visionary source of OZM gGmbH, which is not only a gallery for graffiti, but also the point of view of a selected artist collective with a focus on urbanity, whose influence extends beyond the borders of the Hanseatic city. Heimkind himself is also creatively active. Already in the 90s he was composing digital music, founded a clothing label and ran his first online shop selling works of art. In his interdisciplinary work, the focus is always on the physical space, which is increasingly digitally perceptible through current and already completed projects.
Rhea: Before founding the OZM in Hammerbrook the gallery was in the gentrified Schanzenviertel and was then demolished to make way for to create living space. How did the idea come about? OZM including his to transfer unique murals into a digitally accessible 3D model?
HEIMKIND: Earlier, 500 years ago, people started printing books with the Gutenberg press. Today you can use abstraction, especially on the Internet, to create complex, three-dimensional things that have always been programmed in such a way that after a few years they are no longer so interesting. And there was simply the idea of archiving it in some way. with the old one OZM do you have the opportunity to watch everything in this 3D object including viewing and listening to the music. You would need 24 hours for that, which hardly anyone does. Actually, the representation in this superficiality has hardly any meaning. We thought about creating a kind of simulated world out of it, a bit like a computer game. At the time I have that with the old one OZM not done, but we can probably work it out in Hammerbrook. At least it's going in that direction. It's just a form of archiving. But maybe I'm an interesting contact person, because last year I only deleted about a million data. Programming languages change and accordingly nobody looks at it anymore; then you can simply delete the data. Life just moves on and one must not forget that these dates are only the shadow.
Rhea: How did you get into programming and presenting art online in the first place?
HEIMKIND: Because I belong to this generation, which started to deal with BASIC, a programming language, with an 8-bit computer in the children's room. This generation dealt with it very playfully. Even if the adults didn't get the hang of it, you were still in your own world, in which maybe there were certain ideas about things. at mir it was very pronounced with the music. This was a very interesting way for me to make the machine language audible via sounds as closely as possible. Behind it were always more or less philosophical concepts, where I mir thought: what are rhythms? How can I make that audible for me? How can I represent complexity simply? It went on and on like that and for 20 years I've more or less arrived in streaming.
Rhea: It becomes art with the ulterior motive of digitality and its possibilities created differently? Does it affect the artists?
HEIMKIND: (certainly) Yes, it influences a lot of people. It influences young people in particular because it often has something to do with feedback loops. Artists get feedback through social media or other channels and think it's meaningful. They don't realize that it's actually a shadow and that someone was looking at a puppy shortly before. You can't relate it at all. I'm very happy that I was able to face this world a little differently, especially through programming. I learned to program things that had not previously been seen in this abundance. Within a very short time you could look at an incredible number of digital pictures at once. That was new, so I have a different connection to the topic, was in awe of the whole thing.
It's often actually very subordinate things that you don't even notice at first glance that appeal to and touch you. But if you remain in this superficiality and then only have a very small span to perceive and decide something, then you are always overwhelmed by the choice. It seems like new comes after new, until you realize, "Why does this person always show one perspective of themselves?" At some point you will notice a pattern like this.
Rhea: What are the challenges in digitizing artistic content?
HEIMKIND: I would say that these processes are still in their infancy. In the last few years I've actually always been able to do things that make you one of the first. I think that's still the case today, although something like artificial intelligence has been around since the 60s. These concepts can be implemented much better today, because of course you also have the computing power to deal with them. In addition, there are the different networks that you can connect to make certain processes visible. Funnily enough, when you do something like that, you're still in an area that just didn't exist before. Here we do exactly that; I try to work with the programmers like I usually work with the artists. They have the space and I'm trying to get the tools they need. They don't use a brush, but a sensor system that can make statements about the networks and a programming code that is saved. Yesterday Janis (member of the OZM Collective), the Doctor of Computer Science is that he came up with how he manages to make the AI (Artificial Intelligence) think about itself. Here we try that the visitor deals with himself on the one hand and on the other hand interacts with a being of the building. This AI-controlled "being" should have the ability to control the building by talking to visitors, controlling the temperature and lights, and recognizing faces through biometrics and letting them in. The AI would also partly take over my job of reporting on the artists and their works, giving hints, so that there is also an inspiration. In the end, personal experience matters. It doesn't work without them. It works in art mir primarily to inspire people.
Pauline: Do you think that the online art trade will replace stationary trade in the future? Can you already see a trend?
HEIMKIND: When I opened my first online shop towards the end of the last century, funnily enough it was called Hammerbrooklyn, I have a work of DAIM discontinued, which cost around 2500 DM. But the people who came across this online shop did not understand the principle. At that time there were actually no real online shops. At some point I noticed that people have problems with you disclosing prices. Then you noticed that others are now doing it too, after all you were no longer alone with it. Today there are people who actually do what you did 20 years ago and say they have invented something new. They stand up and put on a show. The rooms have always been very important to me. And the encounter. And togetherness. The whole culture behind it is the be-all and end-all. Without that, as just a pure online shop, you are someone who at some point no longer has any relation. We started with this art in order to observe society and also to change it a bit. None of this is possible in the digital world. People who run an online shop these days can of course also present a lot digitally, but all of the experiences that go with it and that you have to have are not really possible. I can only recommend everyone to work with an artist for over a quarter of a century. In today's world, it takes a lot to promote someone for so long or to create a sense of togetherness. It is often suggested that a year passes quickly. I can tell you; a decade is nothing. Many of my artists have been painting for almost 40 years. But they are not aloof and say: "What have we already done?', rather they say how Darco FBI from Paris: "It's only just begun".
One of the original ideas of graffiti is unrestricted accessibility in the urban space. Is the digital presentation of graffiti a further development of the original thought?
HEIMKIND: Graffiti itself is rarely in 3D, it is always two-dimensional. DAIM became so well known because he painted 3-D, although the technique didn't allow it yet and it seemed hyper-realistic in a way. Today the technology is able to do this. There are approaches via Google Paintbrush where you can paint in three-dimensional space and you can certainly create something great there, you can build pixels and create entire worlds or use an AI, which in turn creates entire worlds. You can get completely lost inside. In the area where we are traveling, however, it is extremely important to know; who did it? Why he did that? And when did he do that? You have to be careful that it doesn't end up in a turning area. That you don't just do things for the photo, the book, or the Instagram account. I painted myself, but I never talked about it. That was one of the few things I didn't need to talk about. I just did it, didn't have to tell anyone, not even my friends.
For me, the digital graffiti is also a part of the music. My music is a way of creating graffiti digitally. If you listen to the music as it is meant, then a space will arise in front of you in which something happens and then disappears again. And it's similar when you stand in front of the pictures: something opens up if you're open to it - and if you then go further, this "space" closes again. Color and shape can of course be created in 3-D Max, but of course the feel is no longer there. Everything that is created there I do with a mouse or other technical devices that enable you to capture my movements and put them on digital paper. But of course this is only an imitation of how it takes place outside on the line, where many other factors such as weather, traffic, passers-by count. Basically, it's more about the continuation of something. Music is also about representing something and entering into a process for it.
Pauline : What are the goals of your projects in terms of digitality? Are there any planned projects that place a special focus on this?
HEIMKIND: In the network or on the Internet, there is the idea that you can pack information in containers and then ship them. Then, when a port closes, you ship it via other ports to get to your destination. When it comes to programming, you really shouldn’t limit yourself in advance. But through a place like that OZM gGmbH we are automatically limited in advance. We are limited locally because we have to paint over the created artworks again and again. At some point the whole thing will be demolished and then something new will emerge. If we've done our job well up to that point, any processes or parts of what we've already worked out here will show up there in some form or another. Be it in the form of software, graffiti or memories. This idea with the containers is the project I'm actually following. I've always been interested in what graffiti looks like as architecture. Through the containers we can create spaces that aren't like that OZM are immobile but mobile. If graffiti has one thing, it's the ability to bring spaces with it and also to create entirely new spaces. All these experiences of digitality that we are already experiencing here in this project are already being incorporated into this project. We are actually one step further into the future. We may have the possibility that we as OZM be able to make an artistic contribution to an architectural competition for the planned high-rise buildings. The point isn't that they are being built now, it's about the fact that we simply have a completely different idea of what the future is about. In my opinion, shortcuts that we have now will be standard in a decade.