Briefly describe the work you do.
I base my artwork on the need to integrate motion, or something that hints at motion (e.g. video, light, sound, motors, etc.), in passive objects. Also, by including disruption, repetition and the use of modern and digital means of expression, I try to connect the physical movement within or outside of the object with the restlessness of “today’s eye”, one that moves sporadically between screens, signs, storefronts, and so on.
Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you as an artist.
I grew up in Israel, in a Haredi Jewish family. My family’s daily lives and ideological disposition revolved around strict religious laws (including a great deal of praying, Torah study, prohibitions and intimidations). The individual had no place in this way of life, you couldn’t voice any doubts, and there was just one truth – the belief in God’s laws.
Naturally, this environment didn’t tolerate any notions of culture, so philosophy and art were out of bounds, and TV, movies and computers were forbidden – these were seen as impure. Fortunately, I was a curious child and wanted to learn about the “outside world”, so I built a secret chest, where I stored a TV with a connected VCR, and when my parents were away, I would take the TV out and watch movies (I watched dozens of movies like this…).
I think that this was a turning point, when I developed a “hunger” for creating reflexive objects and images that solicit questions from people on their essence, and don’t have any absolute truths.
The concept of the “artist studio” has a broad range of meanings, especially in contemporary practice. The idea of the artist toiling away alone in a room may not necessarily reflect what many artists do from day to day anymore. Describe your studio practice and how it differs from (or is the same as) tradition notions of “being in the studio”.
When I work on a physical object that contains or is placed near video, I divide my work into two spaces: I have a space within my house, which I call “soft space”, and I have space outside my house, which I call “hard space”.
Physically, conceptually and ironically, “hard space” is truly hard, since it is a public shelter – a place to run away to in times of war (a situation all too common in our area, which leads to the unavoidable comparison between destruction and creation, between defense and defenselessness, and between being safe and being as insecure as the others). I use this space for the physical, or “dirty” work that my object requires. Conversely, the “soft space” is a room in my house with a computer for whatever digital or technological work my object requires.
As for how I work, the object sometimes dictates that I need to work in video, and sometimes, the opposite is true. The “idea” is above and in front of them.
What unique roles do you see yourself as the artist playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?
When I started making art, I was skeptical and very doubtful of the digital world and its connection to art. Today, I understand its power (for good and bad…) and how it can be used to build the future. I also appreciate that my mission as an artist is to play an active, positive, critical, and productive role, since the media shapes the future of the freedom and liberty of mankind.
When do you find is the best time of day to make art? Do you have time set aside every day, every week or do you just work whenever you can?
I work whenever I can (I try to work every day). I prefer to do my computer work at night, because nighttime is accompanied by a certain “cinematic mysteriousness” that lends itself well to working with video. When I physically work on an object, I prefer to work in the daytime, since this is when my awareness and physical ability are at the highest level.
How has your work changed in the last five years? How is it the same?
At first, I was more interested in creating video projects that investigated the language of video, not so much in the context of cinema as in the context of sculpture. I would also take photographs of real characters, and not computer renditions, in outdoor spaces. Over time, I realized that I didn’t need to take photographs outside, and that whatever I needed was nearby, so I started to combine studio photography with the use of ready-made digitally-processed video materials. I also used to project video onto walls and objects, while today, I’m more interested in combining an object’s static physical nature with the dynamic nature of video. I see video as something that is more abstract, something that can be manipulated.
Are there people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers or even pop icons that have had an impact on the work you do?
There are many, I will not list them at the moment. But I can recommend this book, from 1940, a book called, “The Invention of Morel” , by the writer ‘Adolfo Bioy Casares’. This is a prophetic book which is very relevant to the current period and even more relevant for years to come.
If you had an occupation outside of being an artist, what would that be and why?
I grew up near the sea, which, for me, became a kind of shelter, a place for introspection and finding freedom. Like space, I find the depths of the sea fascinating and mysterious. We don’t know too much about the organisms and microorganisms in the water.
Creatures that were discovered and studied until today are artistic masterpieces in their own rite. They glow and illuminate, and they have unusual shapes and textures. They also contain the conceptual and spatial elements of good art. I’m referring to interesting combinations and contrasts that create uncertainty and leave room for questions. For me, the depths of the sea and the organisms that live there are a universe that exists in parallel with the history of art: Complex, abstract, minimalist and expressionist creatures live together in one place. Some move, some do not, some create light, and some have no light.
As an artist and as an individual, I see the sea and its depths as an inexhaustible source of inspiration.
Uriel Ziv (b.1981) is a multi-media artist, currently living and working in Kfar Saba Israel.
In 2013 he received his BFA Degree in New Media from Bezalel, Academy of Art and Design, Jerusalem, Israel. (He received Award for Graduation Exhibition)
His work was shown in several group exhibitions in 2014 he had a solo exhibition at the Ramat Gan Museum, Israel.
At the moment he is working on several projects including outdoor sculptures, exhibitions, and collaborations with other artists.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.