Creative coding and new media artist Ksawery Kirklewski (age 35) from Gdańsk (Poland), whose interactive light installation FLUX will be featured at the 6th Vilnius Light Festival, is always experimenting, pushing and redefining the boundaries of artistic expression.
Recognised as a leading figure in the vanguard of digital creativity, his wide and varied body of work embraces new technology, programming, coding and various advertising media, with a focus on digital and generative art, where the logic and rhythm of complex mathematical equations blend with the beauty of visual art. The fusion of his two passions – technology and art – has resulted in large-scale installations and complex audiovisual productions that are a magnet for both art cognoscenti and passersby alike.
Coming to Vilnius, Ksawery Kirklewski’s installation FLUX, which has already won acclaim at Miami Art Week (USA, 2022), the Tauron Lab at the Katowice Academy of Fine Arts (Poland, 2023), and the Signal Festival of Light Art and Emerging Technologies in Prague (Czech Republic, 2023), is a thought-provoking, immersive and interactive light performance that explores the impact of modern technology on the speed of human interaction. In this project, the artist combines the concepts of interactivity and automation. The light column rising 6 metres high from the ground and 13 metres in diameter will be manipulated by the audience through gestures and voice, accompanied by a performance that draws on footage from the audience. The installation uses four high-speed cameras, an eight-speaker sound system and five kilometres of double-sided LED strips, and runs code in sync with the spatial sound score. The spectacular visuals are created by the 144k pixel screen displaying 100 frames per second.
Ksawery Kirklewski’s most recent projects explore the future, technological progress and aesthetics. These include the light installation LOTUS for Paris Fashion Week 2023; ENTER 2023 project exhibited at Berlin’s New Media Art Centre Khroma; and Symphony in Acid, a generative music website in collaboration with the British electronic and techno music producer Max Cooper.
One thing becomes abundantly clear when talking to Ksawery Kirklewski: behind his sophisticated and impressive work stands a personality that is no less brilliant.
You are celebrated as a creative coding artist, a master of digital art, who manages to bring together modern technology, digital disciplines and art into one captivating package. Where does this passion come from? When did it begin and how has it developed?
This all started when I was a child. I was lucky to have a dad who was also a huge technology and computer enthusiast and owned one of the first computers in our neighbourhood. I loved watching the work and play of a man who had explored so many things in his life, from mechanical construction to graphic design and graphics. I spent a lot of time helping him in his workshop surrounded by strange machines and electrical equipment. We would also hang out in computer shops, looking for new hardware, software and games. Later on, computers really took off and my friends and I spent most of our free time in front of the screen, not only gaming, but also studying the workings of a computer. Back then, everything was so new and exciting for us.
You graduated from the Graphic Department of the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdańsk. You skilfully juggle a number of challenging disciplines and bring them together. Have you taken any additional technical courses?
To be honest, I never gave any serious thought to art until I was 20. I studied maths and physics at school, and in my spare time I designed websites for small companies. I was sure that eventually I would become a professional programmer. So I enrolled to study IT at the Gdańsk University of Technology. One day, at a party at the Academy of Fine Arts, I met some people who captivated me so much with their stories about motion design, typography and drawing that I did not think twice about dropping out of my IT studies and instead turned my attention to studying for my exams at the Academy, hoping that one day I would be able to somehow marry art and coding – and I was.
Do you still play computer games? What are your favourites?
I played a lot of them as a child. I still feel nostalgic for retro games with their simplistic pixel graphics that stimulate the imagination. Occasionally, I go back to the first videogame series, Call of Duty (ha ha ha – laughs), and I still run into a few of my old gaming friends in the online community.
How long do projects like FLUX take to develop?
Each of our installations is a combination and continuation of many ideas that have evolved over time. So the first version of FLUX took only two months to create. However, it is still being developed in terms of video, sound and technology, as each new installation generates new feedback and fresh ideas on how to further improve it.
You are a tenacious innovator, forever experimenting. What is your ambition as an artist and your biggest challenge today?
I would love to organise a solo exhibition. This presents many challenges, mainly around the coordination of several projects running at the same time.
Who are some of the artists you follow?
To name a few: I appreciate Ryoji Ikeda, a Japanese video and sound artist, for his digital perfectionism. I admire the interactive works of the Israeli-American artist Daniel Rozin – his installations and sculptures have a unique ability to change and respond to the audience. I also enjoy the code art of Andreas Gysin from Switzerland, whose ideas are always edgy and well executed.
The new generation, diverse media and modern technology all go hand in hand. Do you have any passionate followers or students among young people?
I do my best to stay connected with the people who message me. I like discussing their ideas and, where possible, sharing my experience. Many of them are just embarking on their journey in coding or developing emerging technologies – and I am always happy to help.
Ksawery Kirklewski’s FLUX and 14 other light installations, as well as five additional exhibits, will be on display at the 6th Vilnius Light Festival on 25–28 January 2024 at 6–11 pm every night.
Please note that the mobile app can help you find all the festival venues. You can download or update it on the App Store http://bit.ly/vilniuslightfestival or on Google Play http://bit.ly/vilniuslightfestival1