NR presents Track Etymology, the textual corollary to nr.world’s exploration of contemporary soundscapes: A series of short interviews delving in the processes and backstories behind the releases premiered on nr.world’s dedicated platform.

Hi Hazina! Should we back up a little bit? When did you first get in touch with music?

I started with music when I was young. In my house, we always had music playing. I really liked how music could affect people. I started learning guitar when I was seven. Playing an instrument let me express myself in new ways. I loved practicing, trying new music styles, and making my own songs.

Now I’m into electronic music. I really like old hip hop, liquid, and drum n’ bass. I got my first vinyl, a Liquid mixtape, from a market in Camden Town.

I read about your background in Cinema Studies, and of your fascination with the evolution of both diegetic and non- diegetic sound in film. How does this translate in your writing process?

When I write, I listen for sounds in my scenes just like I do for the visuals. I think about the noises in a quiet forest or a busy city to make my stories feel real. I want to make readers feel like they are really in the world of my stories. I am excited to keep using these ideas in my work and to find new ways to connect with readers both in their minds and hearts. The movie style is in ‘Lone’ and will be in my next work too. It’s my way of making things. The cinematic field is present in ‘Lone’ and it will be present in my next work as well. It’s an automatic composing style from my side. 

What was the overarching narrative behind your new record, ‘LONE’?

‘LONE’ is a musical journey that delves into the depths of introspection, exploring the intricacies of solitude and the profound moments of clarity that arise from it. Each track is a chapter in the story of a solitary individual navigating the complexities of their inner world, grappling with introspection, and ultimately finding solace in self-awareness.

I’ve started composing it during 2020, just one year after my debut release Ep as my new moniker Tadleeh. The album begins with a sense of isolation and uncertainty, reflecting the protagonist’s journey into the unknown. As the narrative unfolds, themes of resilience, growth, and empowerment emerge, driving the protagonist to confront their fears and embrace their true self. 

Speaking of diegetic and non-diegetic..It’s interesting how context determines the reception of music. A record like ‘LONE’ could work in several frameworks. During your career you held numerous residencies in radios, played in clubs.. In which settings do you mostly present your music? Does the context influence your presentation?

I’m used to play my EPs, former productions and album during my live performances. My presence in Radio is connected to dj sphere, that I also love a lot! During my entire career I did both, spacing between club events, festival, radio show or residency as well as galleries. I don’t think my personal works fit well in a proper club, where I actually prefer to dj. ‘LONE’ sounds better in an intimate place. 

Yours is an extremely varied and experimental career — different labels, different medius, different settings. How did you approach ‘LONE’, considering it is your first LP? Is it a crystallization of your journey up until this point as an artist?

I started making music when I was a teenager, and starting my very first project Petit Singe in 2013, releasing on Haunter Records (Milan). From that point on i’ve released many different  works in many different support (12’’ vinyl, 7’’, tape etc).

Approaching my first LP was a deeply introspective and transformative process. I saw it as an opportunity to distill the essence of my artistic evolution and present a cohesive narrative that reflects the multifaceted experiences and influences that have shaped my musical identity. I’m already processing some new work for a new album. 

As per Sarah Thornton, club culture presents “Three principal, overarching distinctions which can be briefly designated as: the authentic versus the phony, the ‘hip’ versus the ‘mainstream’, and the ‘underground’ versus ‘the media.” This was in her seminal book “Club Cultures”. The year was 1995. I often ask producers and DJs their perspective on the contemporary clubbing landscape. You were the creative mind behind the now retired, forward-thinking events series Sine Confine in Milan, so I assume you had a first-hand experience of how these categories interacted in a unique setting such as the one you were curating. Do you feel those distinctions are a bit outdated or do they stand the test of time?

I believe that the experiences of club culture cited by Sarah Thornton can be all present, only in part, or even all absent even if we are talking about the same event or context. As a DJ and as a curator of musical events – therefore as a “victim” and “perpetrator” -, I can honestly say that the “underground” aspect is the most questionable and difficult to respect. The public doesn’t trust: they always need digital context to ensure the “who, how and why” of a specific event. Curators themselves don’t have many sponsorship choices these days, other than the obvious one on social media.

These mechanisms, in my opinion, arise from a public that is absolutely wary of what it doesn’t know, of being surrounded by “offline” people. Unfortunately I think that the artistic proposal is downgraded.

Neither on the part of the organisers nor on the part of the participants is there a desire to be false, not to be fashionable or not to be underground enough. But I think that this discussion can be broadened to an anthropological, rather than musical, in-depth analysis. They are status quos that human beings have, regardless of club culture. Sine Confine – which is not completely finished, I hope – had – and has – the same purpose as any other organisation: to enhance the work of artists who consider themselves in line with their own tastes.

The underground scene often has difficulty finding funding, and is forced to finance itself. Those who move in this field often know the risks, in terms of turnout and economics. And this is where social media comes in handy. So, who is right and who is wrong? The ordinary citizens who do not finance niche events, or the organisers themselves who, for fear of losing out financially, rely on mainstream social media? It is a war that is too deep-rooted and sees many active participants: the public, organisers, urban spaces, institutions, financiers…

As for my personal Sine Confine project, I hope that one day it can restart and become operational again, far from the consolidated sexist and chauvinist gazes in this country.

Sine Confine was an “art and music platform.” You also produce sound-based installations and commissions, most recently for Munich’s Haus der Kunst —there’s a clear trans-disciplinary component to your practice, could elaborate a bit on that?

Yes, I think that an artist can flush out art everywhere, in every discipline and places. 

I’m really happy of being part of Tune program – curated by Sarah Miles -. My music is absolutely open to any spaces and situations. Me personally, I love being involved in different artistic contest: curating (Sine Confine), listening, viewing… I love to merge multiple opportunities and people.  

Your music feels heartfelt but liminal..It has this intimate but detached feeling to it, almost like an invitation to enter a conversation but only to be left on its doorstep, stuck between its reflexive moments and sonic implosions. How is your relationship with the listener? Is it something you think of while composing?

I want to make songs that feel close and personal, using heart songs and thoughtful music to bring people into the feelings of the songs. The in-between feeling you talked about is what I aim for, making a place that is both close and wide, known but also mysterious. I do think about how people will feel and connect with the music when I write it. But, I focus on sharing my own feelings, experiences, and creative drive in an honest way. I think that if I stay true to my own vision and am open in my expression, I can make music that deeply connects with others. I hope to evoke emotions, provoke thought, and inspire introspection in those who choose to journey with me through my music.

There’s this quote I obsess over by James Joyce, it was part of an essay on Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, “This music smells like sex.” I think it sums up perfectly the drama’s themes and overall sensorial experience. We often tend to associate music to visual metaphors, but I think smell is an underrated sense —What would your music smell like?

Wow! I didn’t know about this particular Joyce’s quote, and I have to say that I definitely agree, even if I never thought about this interesting connection between them. I mean, smell is also proper of music. And come to think of it, I have a certain smell in my mind linked to the theatre halls. The seats, the main wood stage, the “waiting smell” for the show to start. 

That being said, since I’ve never deeply reflected about this, I’d rashly associate my music with the odor that’s in the air when something has been set on fire. 

Interview · Andrea Bratta
Artwork · Visio
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Gian Maria Tosatti

On the responsibilities of the artist and the weight of history

Emilio Isgrò once stated that the role of the artist is that of navigating society out of crisis. If we see in his words any validity, then, we can’t help but see Gian Maria Tosatti as one of the most distinguished and brave admirals of the fleet that is now busy trying to sail us through the stormy waters of the present. 

Don’t let his beard fool you, he’s far from a ruthless buccaneer adventuring across the seas of the art world for mere pragmatic interests. On the contrary, he seems to have embraced a mission with broad horizons and rich in dialogue, as highlighted by his work as art director of the Rome Quadriennale and even when, last year, he became the first solo artist to curate the Italian pavilion at the Venice Biennale. 

Born in the eternal city in 1980, Tosatti indeed faces the art industry with the deep knowledge and critical consciousness of a historian, or to put it in his own words as someone whose first, priceless schooling was the daily stroll to school across the decaying and majestic beauty of the Imperial Fora. 

However, Tosatti has succeeded in escaping the academic redundancy that often defines those too knowledgeable about their own field, by giving birth to a distinctive and globally-acclaimed body of work. His visual art focuses on long-term, often site-specific projects that question the state of our society and identity, equally touching upon politics and spirituality. 

Listening to him discerning about his practice makes you reconcile with art, as a discipline rather than as an industry, something that has been for way too long overshadowed by its financial, voyeuristic and gossipping side. The conversation that sparks with Tosatti acquires a profound stance, spiritual at times, for leading us to question ourselves on the role of the artist in history and on its political duties to capture the present, willing or not. 

Lorenzo Ottone: You were born and raised in Rome, now you live in Naples. How influential is the weight of the past and history, both artistically and politically, exerted by these two cities for an artist like you who investigates the present?

Gian Maria Tosatti: Actually, it is not a burden. In fact, it is the exact opposite. The strong presence of historical and cultural elements in the identity of the city in which I was born and in that of the city where I live exerts a positive and helpful influence in the interpretation of phenomena pertaining both to the present and the future. In thousands of years of their history, men have not changed. There is a beautiful work by Andrea Mastrovito entitled Le jardin des histoires du monde. It is a story in which it is not clear at what moment in history certain events take place, because they continue to happen, cyclically. Living in a city with such a great past is like having a good schooling behind you. It makes decoding reality easier.

Lorenzo Ottone: The project that in recent years has defined your artistic research the most is Il mio cuore è vuoto come uno specchio (My heart is empty like a mirror), which aims to reflect on the crisis of democracy in multiple areas of the world. Is there any willingness to trigger political thoughts and actions by capturing our zeitgeist? Or, in other words, to what extent can artists subtract themselves from their present and from the broader socio-political context?

Gian Maria Tosatti: An artist can never escape his historical present. Even ascetic figures like Morandi are imbued with the feeling of the time in which they lived. Morandi’s painting is only possible because of that specific civil and cultural context. The question is not, therefore, whether or not one wants to give one’s work a political subtext, but to accept the fact that the artist’s role is to give back, with his works, translations of the spirit of the time, which encompasses every aspect of our civilisation. I simply carry out my task, the work that was assigned to me when I decided to join an order as ancient as that of the artists.

Lorenzo Ottone: You once stated that the spark – to a certain extent a vocation – that led you to make art came from a dream. How much room is there now for the sphere of dreams in your practice and how strong, on the contrary, is the willingness to capture the present with pragmatism? And how about spirituality?

Gian Maria Tosatti: Actually, as psychoanalysis teaches us, there is a certain continuity between reality and the dream. Sometimes what we are unable to tell ourselves in the mirror, we end up addressing through another reflective surface, which is that of the dream. My work is aware of this and, as a consequence, encompasses elements retaining a strong connection with historical reality – for example, creating a work in the centre of the Kurdish quarter of Istanbul while it was being demolished by the authorities – as well as markedly visionary horizons – such as filling an entire floor of the building in which we set up that Turkish work with snow, in June.

Lorenzo Ottone: Since we live in a fragmented society, rich in micro-scenes and ‘bubbles’, each with their own influencers and micro-celebrities, can art still cater the role of simulacrum of the present? Can it still narrate universal truths able to reach a broad audience?

Gian Maria Tosatti: Art can certainly do that. What, on the other hand, is very disturbing is this disordered polyphony of voices belonging not so much to the many ‘art lovers’, but to people who understand very little about art and demonstrate this by cheering for some artists and hating others, speaking well of some and badly of others, supporting some and doing everything to discredit others. All this has profoundly changed the art world compared to past decades. In the recent golden years of Italian art, the 1960s and 1970s, one certainly preferred some artists to others, but one had respect for all of them. They were held in esteem because, even if they were far from our specific inclinations (conceptualism, figurative painting, sound-art, performance), they were recognised as having authority and mastery in their field. Today, however, artists are seen as a band of miracle workers, runaways, who owe everything to the support of some gallery owner or patron. If we esteem them, they are our ‘protégés’ (hence, inferiors anyway), if we do not esteem them, they are ‘impostors’. 

The sad thing is that this very mindset now applies not only to those who came to the art world for reasons of social status, but also to the professionals themselves. There are curators who snobbishly refuse to go and see the work of certain artists, as if those works did not deserve the attention of their gaze. Even worse, there are artists who talk about other artists as if they were thieves, without realising that, in doing so, they are discrediting their own work, because as Rilke said, even just to get a single verse out of the soul requires discipline that still deserves our respect and attention. Personally, I am happy that through Quadriennale, in this three-year period, I have brought attention to the work of many – regardless of preference – and that I have also fought to critically and financially support the work of other artists who have publicly spoken very ungenerous words against me or have taken political positions by signing petitions against me. I believe, in this way, that I have done what was right, distancing myself from an opportunistic and vulgar bourgeois art system.

Lorenzo Ottone: Over the years, you have adopted multiple techniques and chosen a range of mediums to express yourself, even touching upon music. I am thinking about the gramophones that you have also played on stage with Vinicio Capossela. How much does multidisciplinarity define your artistic identity and practice?

Gian Maria Tosatti: Italian artists have always been extremely eclectic. Think of Leonardo Da Vinci, think of Bernini, a fantastic theatre director as well as architect, painter and sculptor. Think of Michelangelo Buonarroti’s verses that we have studied together with those of the greatest poets at the turn of the 15th and 16th centuries. And then again to Pasolini, film director, playwright, poet, columnist for Corriere della Sera. It is the specificity of our cultural tradition. Since the art system has become mainly Anglo-American, we tend to compartmentalise more. I’ve got nothing against it, but I do not belong to that cultural tradition. And if we all conformed to the same model, I think we would lose almost all of what makes us rich because we are different. 

Italy has felt like a province for a long time. It is the fault of wrong choices made by our cultural industry, which self-destructed in the 1980s, and of many supposed intellectuals – I am thinking of several curators with international careers – who have been blatantly ashamed of their country, as if Italy actually was a remote province of the artistic universe. Fortunately, this is not the case. Italy has had little to no influence for forty years, it is true, but this is an insignificant amount of time if compared to the history of our civilisation. The strength of our cultural specificity is still great. And it is a good thing that today other countries or continents – I am thinking of Africa, which is working magnificently – have also raised their heads in the global cultural system, because this can lead to exciting comparisons and to writing fantastic new chapters of art history together. 

However, this is only possible if – just like the Africans – we can rediscover pride in our own specificities. Italians are cultural fantasists, because we are born immersed in millennia of stratifications. Simply think of the home-to-school route we take in the morning when children. It can be worth more than a degree at Harvard, because if every day we walk across, as was my case, the centre of Rome, eventually, we will not only get to know the Imperial Fora stone by stone, but all that knowledge will be inseparable from what we are. Of course, one has to have that interest. If one wants to be a footballer, perhaps, they will walk straight across temples, head down, as if they lived in Texas.

Lorenzo Ottone: Speaking of the requirements an artist must have, in recent years your career has been enhanced by the appointment as artistic director of the Quadriennale di Roma. How does Tosatti, the artistic director and curator, differ from Tosatti the artist? 

Gian Maria Tosatti: When I was a boy I had a particular regard for a great poet, T. S. Eliot. As publishing director of Faber & Faber he played a pivotal role in shaping Anglophone literature in the first half of the 20th century. The same can be said of Calvino, who played the same role at Einaudi. But in the 20th century, there were hundreds of artists who took on managerial roles within the cultural system. And thank goodness for that! Pirandello was the director of the Teatro degli Artisti in Rome. And the Quadriennale was founded by an artist, the only one, by the way, to have directed it, in its entire history. Today, the idea of an artist taking on such a role sounds like heresy to many. Instead, anyone who knows a little about art history knows how important the theoretical contributions of artists are. 

I do not want to go as far quoting illustrious figures such as Vasari or Leon Battista Alberti, the manifestos of the 20th century avant-gardes or a book such as The Art of the Novel by Milan Kundera, to make us realise that a world in which artists are confined to their henhouse, brooding over an egg only for critics and dealers to pick up, makes a poor and weak art system. Exactly like the one in which we are immersed today. I do not believe that my strong and stubborn commitment in the contrary direction will change much, but I am simply not willing to be a simple code, good for an infantilised society.

Lorenzo Ottone: To draw a conclusion to our chat, how is the heart of Gian Maria Tosatti today? Still empty like a mirror or full?

Gian Maria Tosatti: As many have said, from Fellini to Boetti – even Totò in a magnificent interview for [Italian state television] RAI, which can be easily found on YouTube -, in every artist there are two people. There is the actual artist and then there is the other, the one who takes him around. Fellini used to say that he would accompany Federico to the places he wanted to go and watch him do things that he would never do. I have learned these things over the years, reading their memoirs, but since I was a kid I have always said that I push Gian Maria’s wheelchair, I take him where he asks me to. Only as an adult, though, I understood what I exactly meant since then. At forty-three, I am an intellectual, a public figure who takes a stand in the newspapers, a cultural manager who knows how to renovate an institution, who has a strong sense of ethics and politics, whose heart is full of fantastic relationships with other intellectuals or people from the street whom I have always helped and supported as an activist. On the other hand, He, the other, is an artist, a man whom I do not understand, whom I do not want to understand, whose ethics are paradoxical, dark and crystalline, whose heart is always empty, ravenous and devoured at the same time. He is thin, very thin. I am attached to him and my duty is not to abandon him. 


Terra dell’ultimo cielo, 2016. Site specific installation.
My dreams, they’ll never surrender, 2014. Site specific installation.
Il mio cuore è vuoto come uno specchio – Episodio di Catania, 2018.  Site specific installation.

All images courtesy of Galleria Lia Rumma, Milan/Naples


“We human beings have emotions and we also have something we can’t explain with words – it’s cool, it’s beautiful and it’s fun”

Brightly coloured flora paints itself across the heads of gallery visitors while children, and sometimes adults, chase otherworldly fauna as they dance across the walls of the space. You might walk into one room and find yourself knee-deep in water, projections of vibrant carp swimming around your legs. Walk into another and you are surrounded by green lily pads, some as tall as your head. One thing for sure is nothing is ever the same, and you never quite know what you can expect to find in each room, in each exhibition.

Make no mistake, while teamLab was first formed in Japan in 2001 by Toshiyuki Inoko and a group of his friends, it is now an international art collective made up of “an interdisciplinary group of various specialists such as artists, programmers, engineers, CG animators, mathematicians and architects whose collaborative practice seeks to navigate the confluence of art, science, technology, and the natural world.”

Transcending boundaries is a key concept for teamLab as it states that “in order to understand the world around them, people separate it into independent entities with perceived boundaries between them.” Digital technology allows people to express themselves creatively in a way that is free from physical constraint and the boundary between the viewer and artwork can become blurred. NR Magazine joined teamLab in conversation.

Do you consider teamLab’s work as a form of therapy and a way for visitors to navigate the collective trauma of living in a post-capitalist society that imposes a number of boundaries on us?

A: We are not sure what our output is classified as – we only seek to create what we believe in, regardless of the genre it turns out to be.

Art is something we can’t explain with words and history will decide whether our output qualifies as art. If we can change people’s minds, then it’s art. Art raises questions and design provides answers. We human beings have emotions and we also have something we can’t explain with words – it’s cool, it’s beautiful and it’s fun. What our exhibitions do is underpin the impossibility to “have.” None of our visitors can own the artworks: they can’t “have” but they can “be” (following Shakespeare’s immortal quote, “To be or not to be”). Today’s society drives us to “have” which imposes limits and division. This simple structure of capitalism binds us, but the internet and the digital world beyond have no limitations. At the same time, you don’t technically own anything on Google or Facebook, but you are part of the community. Therefore, you can’t “have” but you can “be.” Our artwork is shared the same way. We wanted to make something that will reach people’s hearts.

teamLab encourages visitors to interact with the artworks and capture their experiences for social media. However, do you think there is a danger of people focusing too much on getting the ‘perfect shot’ and not truly experiencing the work?

A: We don’t “encourage” people to use social media.

But at the same time, we think that the act of expressing oneself is not a bad thing.

Shooting photos or videos and even sharing those with people all over the world is also one mode of self expression, right?

It is a natural human desire to share emotions or something that is moving and inspiring. However, the “experience” cannot be cut out.

Through smartphones or TVs, people can understand only with their heads. Knowledge may be gained, but the sense of values and perceptions cannot be changed or broadened. Only through the actual, physical experience of the world or artworks, people can start to recognise things differently. Even if people look at teamLab’s works on Instagram, their values will not be broadened.

teamLab wants to continue creating experiences that cannot be shared with just photos or videos.

Our interest is not the technology itself, but instead, we’re trying to explore the concept of “digital” and how it can enhance art.

Most of the Silicon Valley-originated technology is an extension of someone’s mind. Facebook, Twitter, these digital domains see the “self” as the principle. These are meant to be used personally.

What teamLab wants to do is to enhance the physical space itself using art. It doesn’t necessarily have to be yourself that intervenes with it. It can be other people or a group of people that vaguely includes you. And instead of a personal use, we want to make it usable by multiple people.

By digitising the space, we can indirectly change the relationships between people inside. If the presence of others can trigger the space to change, they’d become a part of the artwork. And if that change is beautiful, the presence of others can be something beautiful as well. By connecting digital technology and art, we think the presence of others can be made more positive.

How has the pandemic affected the collective and has it changed how teamLab approaches exhibiting art?

A: Right now, we are isolated due to our fear of the virus. But in order to overcome that, whether you are in lockdown or not, we hope to encourage you to realise that there never are and never were boundaries, that we are connected to the world just by existing in it, and that we don’t have to try to connect with others by rejecting them.

The fact that we can connect with each other, regardless of where we live or anything else, is a message that affirms human existence from the ground up. We would be happy if humans could accidentally connect with others and derive positive value from that.

Humanity has faced many problems over its history, but we do not believe that these problems have ever been solved by division.

The birth of civilised nations and the spread of infectious diseases were both the result of globalisation and the loss of world boundaries, but humanity has solved this problem not by dividing people, but by working together to develop drugs and vaccines, advance medical technology, and improve sanitation.

We believe that people need to remember the benefits of history and science because if we only look superficially at the immediate events of the current coronavirus pandemic, we promote emotional division.

Art and culture have expanded humanity’s “standards of beauty.” Art presents a new standard of beauty that has changed the way people see the world and, to put it plainly, has allowed them to see flowers as beautiful. teamLab’s artworks are also designed to help people experience the beauty of a world without boundaries and the beauty of anti-division.

Humans are driven by beauty. Corporate organisations seem to be driven by logic and language, but when we look at individuals, they often determine their actions based on their sense of beauty. For example, a person’s choice of a profession is heavily influenced by aesthetics, not rationality. The way in which “standards of beauty” are applied changes a person.

Everything in the world is built on a borderless, interconnected continuity. We believe that human beings should be celebrated for being connected to others and to the world and that experiencing a “world without boundaries” can change our values and behaviours and help us to move humanity in a positive direction.

This is a fundamental affirmation of human life.

We have created an artwork that allows people to experience being connected to others and the world, even in the comfort of their homes. Flowers Bombing Home is an artwork that transforms the television in your home into an artwork. The novel coronavirus has forced the world to become more isolated, causing people to become confined to their homes. This project was created to help us realise that our existence is connected to the world and to celebrate the fact that the world is connected.

However, as we mentioned, we believe that our art is meant to be experienced in person in a shared, physical space. So as the world opens up again, we are excited to welcome visitors back into our exhibitions, where they can explore the continuity of life and time.

Are there any new technologies that teamLab is particularly excited about and is planning on incorporating into the artwork?

A: Technology is just a tool, like paint.

Although it’s a tool, it does greatly affect the creation, just like how the Western landscape painting developed because it became possible to bring paints outdoors.

What really makes teamLab unique is not the technological advancement, but rather the fact that teamLab has become able to do truly massive art projects simultaneously worldwide in-house at a high speed – to the extent that no one has been able to do before.

We could say that technology is the core of our work, but it is not the most important part. It is still just a material or a tool for creating art.

We have been creating art using digital technology since the year 2001 with the aim of changing people’s values and contributing to societal progress. Although we initially had no idea where we could exhibit our art or how we could support the team financially, we also strongly believed in and were genuinely interested in the power of digital technology and creativity. We wanted to keep creating new things regardless of genre limitations, and we did.

Digital technology allows artistic expression to be released from the material world, gaining the ability to change form freely. The environments where viewers and artworks are placed together allow us to decide how to express those changes.

In art installations with the viewers on one side and interactive artworks on the other, the artworks themselves undergo changes caused by the presence and behaviour of the viewers. This has the effect of blurring the boundary lines between the two sides. The viewers actually become part of the artworks themselves. The relationship between the artwork and the individual then becomes a relationship between the artwork and the group. Whether or not another viewer was present within that space five minutes before, or the particular behaviour exhibited by the person next to you, suddenly becomes an element of great importance. At the very least, compared to traditional art viewing, people will become more aware of those around them. Art now has the ability to influence the relationship between the people standing in front of the artworks.

You have created an interactive at-home art installation, that people can access around the world, can you tell us more about that work?

A: The novel coronavirus has forced the world to become more isolated, causing people to become confined to their homes. This project was created to help us realise that our existence is connected to the world and to celebrate the fact that the world is connected.

The television in your home becomes art. Watch at home, participate at home, and connect with the world. People from around the world draw flowers, creating a single artwork that blooms in homes around the world.

Draw a flower on a piece of paper, your smartphone, or computer, and upload it. The flowers you draw and the flowers drawn by others bloom and scatter in real time on the YouTube Live Stream. If you connect your home television to YouTube, your television turns into art. As the petals scatter, the various flowers form a single new artwork together.

When a new flower is born, the name of the town where the flower was drawn is shown.

You can also download Your Flower Art, which combines the flowers you draw with those drawn by people around the world.

The flowers that people draw around the world will bloom until the end of the coronavirus. When the coronavirus ends, they will bloom and scatter all at once in various places all over the world. And, in the future, perhaps the flowers will continue to bloom forever as an artwork for people to remember this era.

It is stated that teamLabs work fuses together art and science but can you ever really have one without the other?

A: We have always liked science and art. We want to know the world, want to know humans, and want to know what the world is for humans.

Science raises the resolution of the world. When humans want to know the world, they recognise it by separating things. In order to understand the phenomena of this world, people separate things one after another.

For example, the universe and the earth are continuous, however, humans recognise the earth by separating it from the universe. To understand the forest, humans break it down into trees, separating the tree from the whole. Humans then cut the tree into cells to recognise the tree, cut the cells into molecules to recognise the cells, and cut the molecules into atoms to understand the molecules, and so on. That is science, and that is how science increases the resolution of the world.

But in the end, no matter how much humans divide things into pieces, they cannot understand the entirety. Even though what people really want to know is the world, the more they separate, the farther they become from the overall perception.

Humans, if left alone, recognise what is essentially continuous as separate and independent. Everything exists in a long, fragile yet miraculous continuity over an extremely long period of time, but human beings cannot recognise it without separating it into parts. People try to grasp the entirety by making each thing separate and independent.

Even though we are nothing but part of the world, we feel as if there is a boundary between the world and ourselves, as if we are living independently. We have always been interested in finding out why humans feel this way.

The continuity of life and death has been repeated for more than 4 billion years. However, for humans, even 100 years ago is a fictional world. I was interested in why humans have this perception.

How can we go beyond the boundaries of recognition? Through art, we wanted to transcend the boundaries of our own recognition. We wanted to transcend human characteristics or tendencies in order to recognise the continuity.

Art is a search for what the world is for humans. Art expands and enhances “beauty.” Art has changed the way people perceive the world.

Groups move by logic, but individuals decide their actions by beauty. Individuals’ behaviours are determined not by rationality but by aesthetics. In other words, “beauty” is the fundamental root of human behaviour. Art expands the notion of “beauty”. Art is what expands people’s aesthetics, that is, changes people’s behaviour.

It may be the whole world or only a part of the entirety, but it is art that captures and expresses it without dividing it. Art is a process to approach the whole. And by sharing it with others, the way people perceive the world changes. Through the enjoyment of art, the notion of “beautiful” expands and spreads, which in turn changes people’s perceptions of the world.

Everything exists in a long, fragile yet miraculous continuity over an extremely long period of time. teamLab’s exhibitions aim to create an experience through which visitors recognise this continuity itself as beautiful, hence changing or increasing the way humans perceive the world.

So we can say that there is no boundary between science and art in our activity. Both of them are ways in which to recognise the world, and both are important to our aim.

Is there a specific teamLab work that stands out from the rest and if so why?

A: Our most recent works often stand out because our output is a result of accumulated knowledge and experiences.

But of our many exhibitions worldwide, one that holds a special place in our hearts is the annual outdoor exhibition teamLab: A Forest Where Gods Live in Mifuneyama Rakuen in Kyushu.

The 500,000 square meter Mifuneyama Rakuen Park was created in 1845, during the end of the Edo period. Sitting on the borderline of the park is the famous 3,000-year-old sacred Okusu tree of Takeo Shrine. Also in the heart of the garden is another 300-year-old sacred tree. Knowing the significance of this, our forebears turned a portion of this forest into a garden, utilising the trees of the natural forest. The border between the garden and the wild forest is ambiguous, and when wandering through the garden, before they know it, people will find themselves entering the woods and animal trails. Enshrined in the forest is the Inari Daimyojin deity surrounded by a collection of boulders almost supernatural in their formation. 1,300 years ago, the famous priest Gyoki came to Mifuneyama and carved 500 Arhats. Within the forest caves, there are Buddha Figures that Gyoki directly carved into the rock face that still remain today.

The forest, rocks, and caves of Mifuneyama Rakuen have formed over a long time, and people in every age have sought meaning in them over the millennia. The park that we know today sits on top of this history. It is the ongoing relationship between nature and humans that has made the border between the forest and garden ambiguous, keeping this cultural heritage beautiful and pleasing.

Lost in nature, where the boundaries between man-made gardens and forests are unclear, we are able to feel like we exist in a continuous, borderless relationship between nature and humans. It is for this reason that teamLab decided to create an exhibition in this vast, labyrinthine space so that people will become lost and immersed in the exhibition and in nature.

We exist as a part of an eternal continuity of life and death, a process that has been continuing for an overwhelmingly long time. It is hard for us, however, to sense this in our everyday lives, perhaps because humans cannot easily conceptualise time for periods longer than their own lives. There is a boundary in our understanding of the continuity of time.

When exploring the forest, the shapes of the giant rocks, caves, and the forest allow us to better perceive and understand that overwhelmingly long time over which it all was formed. These forms can transcend the boundaries of our understanding of the continuity of time.

teamLab’s project, Digitized Nature, explores how nature can become art. The concept of the project is that non-material digital technology can turn nature into art without harming it.

These artworks explore how the forms of the forest and garden can be used as they are to create artworks that make it possible to create a place where we can transcend the boundary in our understanding of the continuity of time and feel the long, long continuity of life. Even in the present day, we can experiment with expressing this “Continuous Life” and continue to accumulate meaning in Mifuneyama Rakuen.

Have you found that digital interactive work has become more popular in recent years and if so why do you think that is the case?

A: To be honest, we do not know.

All we can say is that teamLab believes digital technology can expand art and that art made in this way can create new relationships between people.

Digital technology enables complex detail and freedom for change. Before people started accepting digital technology, information and artistic expression had to be presented in some physical form. Creative expression has existed through static media for most of human history, often using physical objects such as canvas and paint. The advent of digital technology allows human expression to become free from these physical constraints, enabling it to exist independently and evolve freely.

No longer limited to physical media, digital technology has made it possible for artworks to expand physically. Since art created using digital technology can easily expand, it provides us with a greater degree of autonomy within the space. We are now able to manipulate and use much larger spaces, and viewers are able to experience the artwork more directly.

The characteristics of digital technology allow artworks to express the capacity for change much more freely. Viewers, in interaction with their environment, can instigate perpetual change in an artwork. Through an interactive relationship between the viewers and the artwork, viewers become an intrinsic part of that artwork.

In interactive artworks that teamLab creates, because viewers’ movement or even their presence transforms the artwork, the boundaries between the work and viewers become ambiguous. Viewers become a part of the work. This changes the relationship between an artwork and an individual into a relationship between an artwork and a group of individuals. A viewer who was present 5 minutes ago, or how the person next to you is behaving now, suddenly becomes important. Unlike a viewer who stands in front of a conventional painting, a viewer immersed in an interactive artwork becomes more aware of other people’s presence.

Unlike a physical painting on a canvas, the non-material digital technology can liberate art from the physical. Furthermore, because of its ability to transform itself freely, it can transcend boundaries. By using such digital technology, we believe art can expand the beautiful. And by making interactive art, you and others’ presence becomes an element to transform an artwork, hence creating a new relationship between people within the same space. By applying such art to the unique environment, we wanted to create a space where you can feel that you are connected with other people in the world.

All we do is create what we believe in – our hope is that our output reaches people’s hearts and changes their ways of thinking or behaviour. Popularity is just a byproduct of that. We never consider popularity when working, all we focus on is creating something we believe in.

What advice do you have for young creatives who are interested in working with digital and interactive works?

A: teamLab was started by a group of friends who simply enjoyed spending time together, and it has continued to grow and change. If you only think in practical terms, logically, you will fail. It is good to start with the things you enjoy in life.

We aim to create artworks and experiences that allow people to experience the beauty of the world with their hearts and their bodies. In the 20th century, we were taught to only understand the world through our “heads,” but it is important to experience things with our hearts and our bodies. Do not think you can understand the world just through the internet.

Is teamLab working on anything at the moment and what plans does the collective have for the future?

A: You can find the information about upcoming exhibitions worldwide on our website – please check there for the latest updates!


Images · teamLAB

Ed Templeton

“Every time I forget my camera, I have regretted it. Life isn’t worth living if I can’t take a photo of it.”

A respected cult figure in skateboarding culture, Ed Templeton’s photography takes inspiration from the subculture he is a part of and its suburban roots. Born in Orange County, a sprawling suburb of Los Angeles, the world champion professional skateboarder and founder of the iconic skate company Toy Machine has exhibited his work across Los Angeles, San Francisco, Paris, Belgium, Vienna, the UK and more. His work is also housed in LACMA’s permanent collection, and he has published over 20 books of his work.

Templeton started his professional skating career in the early 90s, and soon ventured into the world of photography, documenting his friends, surroundings, and the antics that followed the subculture. In the mid to late 90s, Templeton found himself on the frontline of a cutting-edge mixture of personal expression and social documentary. Developing this into a vast and distinct body of work, Templeton has become a household name in the world of contemporary street photography, with his most notable work ‘Wires Crossed’ being part memoir, part documentation of the DIY, punk-infused subculture of skateboarding as it blossomed between the 90s and early noughties.

Giving us an insider’s look at a subculture in the making and confirming his capabilities as a visual artist, Templeton’s work has achieved a signature style that has emerged from the skateboarding world he helped establish. Templeton’s approach to street photography and documenting youth culture recalls the iconic work of Larry Clark, Jim Goldberg, and Nan Goldin, and is fuelled by the raw energy of the skate scene and all of its grit and glory.

NR Magazine speaks with Templeton about his life’s work, his thoughts on life on the West Coast and his identity as an artist.


What initially attracted you to working with photography?

In my former life as a professional skateboarder, I was surrounded by photographers whose job it was to take photos of me skating and I was always interested in their cameras, how they worked and was generally immersed in the world of film and photography through them. But it wasn’t until I was exposed to photobooks by Nan Goldin, Larry Clark and Mary Ellen Mark that I really started to see photography in a different way.

I had always had a camera for taking tourist snaps, but after seeing those books I mentioned, and work from people like Henri Cartier-Bresson and Garry Winogrand, I realised the power of a good documentary photograph. And like any 22-year-old boy, I thought maybe I could do it too. I was traveling the world with some hard-living folks acting like rock stars on the road and I had that personal ‘a-ha moment’ where I decided to document what it was like to be a pro skateboarder from my perch on the inside.

I’ve tried my luck at skateboarding in the past, but for me, I think starting as an adult I’d already developed this strong sense of fear that I struggled to overcome on the board. Did you ever feel this kind of apprehension when starting your artistic career or was it something that just came naturally to you?

A friend once asked me where I get the gall to put artwork out into the world. I think he meant it as a criticism, as in, ‘why do you think what you do is up to the standards of true art and so confidently offer it?’ I think he considered my artwork naive. I thought about it and was aware that compared to many of the artists I admired, my work was naive. I think my answer to him was that one needs to have a certain amount of delusion built into them to get them over that self-critical hump. When you put what you do out onto the chopping block, there’s always someone ready to chop. But there is also always someone who may connect with what you have done and appreciate it, so you do it for those people.

I think years later when you look back on your own work, you should be embarrassed a bit, because hopefully you have evolved and improved. So yes, I have felt apprehensive about my work, but I’ve tried to operate in the spirit of putting one leg in front of the other and to keep moving in a positive, evolutionary direction.

Skateboarding and Toy Machine has been such a huge part of your life and your identity. With your creative pursuits – photography in particular – have you ever felt the need to establish a specific style or aesthetic? Obviously when you first started you were documenting the subculture you were part of. Was that always your aim?

My aim at the beginning was to document skateboarders, but once I had a camera on my shoulder 24-7, that narrow scope quickly widened and whatever was in front of me became fair game to be photographed. My aim regarding style was always Henri Cartier-Bresson, and in that way the aesthetic I was after has always been very pared down – no frills.

Cartier-Bresson was the quintessential documentary photographer known for being a master of composition and shooting ‘The Decisive Moment.’ I still prefer black and white photos over colour. I shoot with a Leica M6 and a 50mm lens with no filters or adornments, not unlike Cartier-Bresson. When shooting, I try to blend into the crowd and quietly shoot like a fly on the wall. Just the basics: get close, make a quick composition, shoot, then keep walking.

I feel like I wasn’t consciously trying to adopt a specific style, because by default there was no way my work could mimic Cartier-Bresson, Larry Clark or Robert Frank because I was living in a different time period with totally different subjects and surroundings. I did decide to generally shoot in black and white, and to keep it very simple. Starting in 1994 when I started shooting skateboard culture, I was simultaneously shooting many different long-term projects that have continued until this day.

Another aesthetic thread in my work is the idea of writing and painting on the prints. That is a departure from the Cartier-Bresson ethos, he would have frowned on the idea of drawing attention away from the photo itself. But for me, the print itself is an object to be used in any way possible to convey the story you want to tell, even if that means some contextual text or some decoration will elevate it to another level. Artists like Peter Beard, Jim Goldberg, later Robert Frank, David Hockney and Allen Ginsberg all used the photographic print as a starting point to make new types of artwork.

Your documentary project ‘Wires Crossed’ is essentially your life’s work, and you’ve got plans to publish and exhibit it at some point. How do you feel when reflecting on this long-term venture?

It’s a daunting task trying to edit down the five thousand photographs that I have collected over the last 27 years, scattered over all types of formats into a relatively concise, readable, cohesive story. I have had to break it down into themes like ‘Fame in a Microcosm’, ‘Self-Medication’, ‘Lust’, ‘Injuries’, etc. In this way I was able to craft chapters that tell the stories I’m trying to convey photographically on those topics. I have also dredged my journals from those periods so some contemporaneous stories and texts scanned directly from the pages will be included along with the photos.

What have been your favourite places to photograph?

No place jumped into my mind immediately. It’s really fun shooting in Japan. It’s a camera culture so people don’t seem weirded out when you are taking photos there. Any place where I can just walk and shoot is my favourite – even my own hometown.

Your project ‘Memory Foam’ reflects on life in Huntington Beach, California. What stands out to you most about beach culture and suburban life on the West Coast?

Suburbia is a fucked-up place, and Huntington Beach is hyper-fucked. It was through world travel that I wanted to look at where I lived in the same way I see a new country. Each time I would come back from a month abroad, I would marvel at the size of Los Angeles and its surrounding exurbs. The freeways are so wide, there’s a seemingly never-ending sprawl. The things we take for granted because we grew up here are things that a first-time visitor here might marvel at, like I do when I see a cool sign or experience a new custom in Asia or Europe.

Orange County, where Huntington Beach is located, was built on the ‘White Flight’ leaving Los Angeles in the late 50s, and those roots are evident, as this county is a conservative stronghold in a mostly liberal state (there’s plenty of white supremacists and their sympathizers here). Over the last four years as American society as a whole has become more antagonistic and belligerent, my hometown has become a surreal ‘idiocracy’ on one hand, and then on the other it’s a beautiful paradise that many people around the world would saw off their right arm if it meant they could live here.

Let me give you an example. As the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic raged, we had the murder of George Floyd and the ensuing racial justice protests in cities all over the world. A BLM protest planned for Huntington Beach spurned a ‘Defend Huntington Beach’ counter-protest in response organised by Tito Ortiz, a well-known retired MMA fighter. The popularity of his ‘Defend Huntington Beach’ movement launched him into a run for city council, where he overwhelmingly won a seat and was named mayor pro-tem. Of course, he is anti-vaccine, thinks Covid is a ‘plandemic’, and refused to wear a mask at the council meetings. We basically had our own mini-Trump here inside Huntington Beach city government like a bull in a china shop.

Naturally, he resigned months later after realising running a city is actual work, and he couldn’t take the constant heat his antics provoked. Each weekend at our pier there’s a mini rally by adherents of some disgruntled group, usually a combination of Pro-Trump/Anti-Covid/Anti-Vax/Extremists that yell at people as they walk by on their way to the beach. Maybe I’m just overly sensitive to all of this, but that is what I want to document. The dichotomy of this place is essentially a microcosm of the whole United States. I think my series started off as a sincere and earnest documentation of my local environment and has ended up being a critical look at human nature.

Whenever I end up publishing this work, I think it will reflect a love/hate relationship with my hometown.

With the theme of this issue being Identity, I’d love to know how you see yourself as the person behind the lens.

I see myself differently at any given moment. Sometimes I see my physical reflection in a window and I’m horrified, revealing that perhaps my mind’s eye sees a younger version of myself and I’m shocked at the creature I inhabit currently. It probably effects how I approach shooting photos in the streets because I am hyper aware of what I might look like to an outsider as I am walking around with a camera.

“One moment I am shooting in a spirit of celebrating human nature, another I have turned cynical and critical.”

The identity I imagine myself having is certainly different than the identity I actually have in this space. But to answer the question more directly, when I’m behind the lens I try to see myself as an inquisitive onlooker. Not a passive onlooker, but a participant in society – a member who happens to be using a camera, which isn’t so strange anymore since we all have them in our pockets now.

If you could select a handful of works that capture the essence of your creative vision, what would they be?

Photographically, something like my last major book ‘Tangentially Parenthetical’ would probably the closest thing to the essence of what I’m trying to do currently. Of course, that essence is evolving, and I’m sure the forthcoming ‘Wires Crossed’ book will be the closest I can get to my creative vision, since it’s the body of work that got me into photography in the first place.

A lot of your work is in black and white. What attracts you to working with this aesthetic?

I think colour is amazing, but for me, more often than not when I shoot in colour, I wish the photos I got would have been in black and white. Once in a while, the colour pops and makes the photo even better, but often the colour comes off garish or gaudy. I prefer to strip everything down to the essentials. Maybe I have a strong infection of nostalgia in me. There is a timelessness to black and white that I like.

There’s also a practical reason – in my home darkroom I am not set up for colour. I tried once but it was a big hassle, and the chemicals are much more toxic. So, with black and white I can do everything from home which is nice.

Your work also features more intimate pictures of your wife, Deanna. Does your visual approach change at all when working with someone closer to you?

I don’t think it does. I have a camera on me when I’m out, and there’s always one laying around when I’m at home. So just like if I were out in public and something visually interesting happens and makes me want to shoot it, the same applies when I’m at home.

If something happens that is out of the ordinary, let’s say Deanna is vacuuming the house nude for some reason, I’ll shoot that because it might be funny or interesting to me, but it also might translate into a photograph that speaks to the domestic experience and will resonate with others who have a similar shared experience.

I suppose my approach at home is more sensitive, although if this body of work ever comes out, it will be a fairly unflinching look at married life. The work is called ‘Suburban Domestic Monogamy’.

Would you say that being transgressive and incorporating a DIY aesthetic into your work are important aspects of your identity?

I have this one identity as a pro skateboarder of 22 years, and another as an artist, and they overlap to some degree. Through my skateboard company Toy Machine’s graphics and advertisements, I have always tried to poke holes in the whole idea of selling and marketing something you love and care about, it seems so crass, so I made it into a joke about brainwashing our loyal pawns into doing our bidding, using language that Nike or Amazon only wishes they could use!

We have a ‘Consumer Control Centre’ with its own logo, and it’s all about forcing consumers into blindly buying only our products. Our fans are in on the joke. We don’t take ourselves too seriously.

“It’s just skateboarding – but Skateboarding is our life! I’d like to think the same applies to the art world.”

It’s just art, but art is our life! It’s all for fun and enjoyment but it’s also our life blood and the thing that keeps us going, so I think there’s a built-in spirit of transgression in what I do that stems from skateboard culture, and of course a do-it-yourself attitude is also endemic.

On the spectrum of transgression, I feel like I’m pretty mild. I wouldn’t say that anything I do ‘breaks the rules’ in some heroic way, but I think it does break down the façade between the artist and audience or company and the customer. We are all part of the same community. There’s no hierarchy – or at least there shouldn’t be.

Have you ever thought about dabbling in other creative fields?

I have been recruited as a commercial film director, but I never pursued it seriously as of yet. I dabble in commercial photography here and there. I would like to get into proper filmmaking, and I might do OK in marketing since I do that already on a small scale for Toy Machine.

Are there any particular works that resonated with you when you first got into photography?

I mentioned Goldin and Clark, but once I got into photobooks there was a cavalcade of falling in love with so many photographers’ work! Anders Petersen, Tom Wood, Susan Meiselas, Jane Evelyn Atwood, Graciela Inturbide, Bruce Davidson, Robert Frank, Peter Beard, Jim Goldberg, Bill Burke, Burk Uzzle, Josef Koudelka – there’s too many.

More specifically I’d say that ‘Raised By Wolves’ by Jim Goldberg, ‘Brooklyn Gang’ by Bruce Davidson, ‘Falkland Road’ by Mary Ellen Mark, ‘At Twelve’ by Sally Mann, ‘Nicaragua’ and ‘Carnival Strippers’ by Susan Meiselas, ‘Streetwise’ by Mary Ellen Mark, and of course ‘The Ballad of Sexual Dependency’ by Nan Goldin, and ‘Teenage Lust’ by Larry Clark were some books that really hit home for me. Those are ones off the top of my head.

What things have inspired you recently?

I discovered Tom Wood – see ‘All Zones Off Peak’ and ‘Bus Odyssey’. All work by Mark Steinmetz, Alec Soth and Gregory Halpern. More recently I have discovered older work but new to me from John Humble, Sage Sohier, and Larry Fink. There are also some young photographers making great work that are really cool; Daniel Arnold in New York, William Galindo in Los Angeles, Jake Ricker and Austin Leong in San Francisco, Billy ‘Captain Soncho’ Williams in Orange County. Deadbeat Club Press is publishing a lot of great photographers’ first books. It’s not new, but I’m also really getting into the German New Objectivity movement, especially Otto Dix. There’s a painter in Los Angeles you should check out named Kevin Christy.

What’s your usual approach when taking a photograph?

I prefer to go completely unnoticed. Usually, I am just walking by at full speed and shooting as I go. Sometimes it’s a direct approach where I walk up and start shooting and start a conversation. Sometimes I ask for a portrait, but mostly I just shoot and keep walking, and most of the time I am not seen.

Have there been moments when you’ve regretted not bringing a camera with you?

Every time I forget my camera, I have regretted it. Life isn’t worth living if I can’t take a photo of it. I say that jokingly but that is really how I feel. Even if I forget the camera, I still have my iPhone and can shoot photos, but only for Instagram. I don’t use digital photos in books or shows, although there have been a few exceptions. I did a very tiny book with a French publisher of some of my digital photos from before I had an iPhone as a special project, and a few years back I did an exhibition at Pilgrim Surf Shop in Japan of my #DailyHBpierPhoto shots from Instagram.

Have there been any difficult moments you’ve had to overcome when taking certain photographs?

I have had some strange moments, but nothing too crazy. I shot some teenagers fighting in Huntington Beach once, and in theory as the adult present, I should have broken it up, but it was so damn stupid how it started and what it was about that I figured they deserved to fight each other.

Another time in Barcelona I shot the police roughing up a suspect as they were trying to arrest him. They banged his head on the side of the police car. One of the cops saw me and made me give him my film. I wasn’t in the mood to make a stink about it, so I just handed it over. Luckily, I had just put a new roll in so I didn’t lose anything special.

Do you have any daily rituals or habits that help you stay creative?

I get up each day and procrastinate for way too long, then check my emails, and whatever is the most pressing or has the most looming deadline is what gets worked on. It may be graphics for Toy Machine, a painting, drawing, or organizing the photo archive. It’s in constant need to improvement, even when I’m not shooting as much. Covid has slowed down my photo taking, but not my archiving and editing.

I need to adopt a daily ritual; I think that would be very helpful for me. Maybe I could spend 30 minutes making a drawing every day? But think of the 365 drawings you’d have if you stuck with it.

Looking back on your career, both as a creative and a skateboarder, would you take the opportunity to do anything differently?

In hindsight I would have started skating and making art earlier. If I could go back in time and find a young Ed, I’d tell him, among many other things, to start making art now, start skating now, and keep a journal. I keep a spotty one, mostly for travels, but it’s not philosophical, it’s just the bare facts of each day. The people who know where they want to go tend to get there over time, so an early start helps.

I don’t have a lot of major regrets that I’d want to change. It would just be small things, dead ends that I may have avoided. But having said that, those dead ends, and mistakes are what forms you into the person you are. Can you imagine going through life never making a mistake? I wonder if anyone has. Mistakes are learning experiences.

What can we expect from you in the future?

In the near future I have a book of my drawings coming out in December published by Nazraeli Press. In January 2022 I will have a solo show of my paintings tentatively titled ‘The Spring Cycle’ at Roberts Projects in Los Angeles, and I’ll take part in a group show at Tim Van Laere gallery in Belgium.

Later in 2022 the ‘Wires Crossed’ book will come out, published by Aperture in the fall. The ‘Wires Crossed’ exhibition will start in the Netherlands in 2023 at the Bonnefanten Museum in Maastricht. We have plans to travel the exhibition both in Europe and in the USA. After that, it’s safe to expect some more photobooks!

Discover Ed Templeton’s work here ed-templeton.com

Frederic Tougas

Posted in 미분류

TJ Tambellini

Eastern Air

These photos are all taken in and around the Eastern Sierras region of California. The state has so much to offer and crowds often gather at the coasts or along the western edge of the Sierras, with Yosemite and Sequoias as a destination. While those areas are just as special, I often gravitate towards the high desert, or in this case, the east side of the range. It’s an easy shot up from LA, using Hwy 395 as the main drag. You could spend a lifetime traveling through its deep desert Mojave region, the active thermal zones, or taking a quick jaunt up into the mountains from the many fingerling roads that splinter off from 395. I often look back at my personal videos or photos from the area as a quick escape, more so now in quarantine times.  

Processed with VSCO with j6 preset


Photography and words TJ TAMBELLINI

Shane Terry

For me, the notion of reinvention is very exciting. It’s about making connections that aren’t immediately obvious, noticing patterns and possibilities, and seeing things in a new light, or through a different lens. It’s not about doing things differently for the sake of doing things differently. That’s novelty. We just have to keep our eyes (and ears) open wide.


Photography and Words · Shane Terry

Marie Tomanova 

“It inspires me to see so many young people standing up and having a voice”

What it is to be ‘American’ is, particularly within the context of current affairs, inherently political. Linguistically, ‘American’ is the demonym of ‘America’ – referring to the noun used to denote the natives or inhabitants of a place. But it is also a term that has found itself being actively, and sometimes violently, reclaimed in the interests of a particular form of nationalistic ideology, one that seeks to control who can and cannot be ‘American’.

Within this context, the photographer Marie Tomanova presents Young American, a series of portraits of young people in New York – in which their attitude, youthful fearlessness and ambition trumps established connections to the United States. Tomanova, herself, is not American by birth, having moved to North Carolina from the former Czechoslovakia in 2011 to work as an au pair. Since then, and having ended up in New York, the photographer has built up an oeuvre of work that addresses and unpicks notions of identity, gender and displacement.

Turning the camera on herself at times, Tomanova’s self-portraiture is an attempt to discover a sense of belonging amongst the unfamiliar landscape of American soil. In her images of others – people that she has approached at show openings, in the street, or found via Instagram, that make up Young American, Tomanova captures the same sense of intimacy that is felt in her self-portraits. Shooting one-on-one, the series offers a captivating insight into life in the transient metropolis of New York, from a perspective that hinges upon the hopes, dreams and ambitions of self-defining Americans.

NR: Where did the idea for Young American come from?

Marie Tomanova:About a year ago, I was having brunch at my favourite café, Mogador in East Village, with the art historian Thomas Beachdel; we were discussing my work and came up with the idea of the show based on a portion of my work, which he would curate. From there, I then specifically began to shoot more portraits and we mixed in older work with the new. I started to photograph portraits about 3-4 years ago and I did the last shoot just two days before the opening.

NR: How has your own experience in America shaped this series, and your work in general?

MT: I came to the US in early 2011, and I thought I’d stay for six months, a year at the most. It’s been 7 years now, and I consider NYC my second home. There have been tough times over the years – moments when I hit rock bottom and didn’t have family around to help. I cried, feeling helpless, homesick and considered running back home… But that’s all part of life, and I always try to find the positive side of things, even when it looks like there are none. For me, America is a place where things can happen if you work hard and have lots of grit. I fell in love with discovering new things and who I am whilst being so far from friends, family and my comfort zone, and this is all reflected in my work. Young American is my portrait of “America”, in terms of how I envision it as an immigrant and it depicts the America I feel that I belong to.

NR: As someone coming to the US from the Czech Republic, how has this shaped your conception of the ‘American Dream’ – compared with people who’ve lived there their entire lives? 

MT: I was born in communist Czechoslovakia and remember the long lines for tangerines and oranges that were only available over Christmas. My parents couldn’t travel and, after the Iron Wall had fallen, we went to West Germany for the first time. I remember everybody staring into the stores, at all the food options – all the cheese and produce selections that we had never seen or had. This oppression shaped the idea of the American Dream as a giant promise of Levis, Coca-Cola and the land of opportunity. When I was a teenager, I used to obsessively watch bootleg DVDs of Sex in the City and I was in love with Carrie Bradshaw’s world. It was nothing like I had ever seen before and I based a lot of my ideas about America on that. After coming to NYC and living here for a while, I realized that it was totally naïve idea, and I am glad that there is “more” to it.

“I cannot say how people who have lived in the US their entire lives feel, but it seems to be, at least now, a very divided place – there’s a struggle for true equality and tolerance.”

NR: What do you think is the appeal of ‘America’ for youth culture?

MT: America meant a lot of things to me (as someone coming from another country) from equality, opportunity and the idea of American Dream. I think the answer is particularly well stated in curator Beachdel’s show statement: “Marie Tomanova’s Young American… celebrates the freedom and identity of the idea of an “America” still rife with dreams and possibilities, hope and freedom. Her images, direct and without artifice, confront us with the power and beauty of people simply being, the young…just being. And in this just being is the essence of unity, love, and acceptance.” I could not agree more with this; I came here for equality and to be who I am.

NR: What impact have the interactions with youth in NY as part of this series had on you?

MT: I feel very inspired by young people and it is always exciting to hear their stories and dreams and the reasons they came to NYC. Some of the kids are native New Yorkers and that is also fascinating to me. I love to hear their life stories of growing up in the city. NYC youth culture, and youth culture in general, is vibrant, fearless and radiant – and it has a strong voice. It has been a great journey for me to have the opportunity to connect with so many amazing people, to learn from them and to see so many new perspectives on life. I have learned how to listen to people better and how to stand up for myself. This series is about “Americans” who are not defined by their passport or visa; instead they are defined by having hopes and dreams – I relate.

NR: Do you think that Young American highlights an alternative type of community at work that transcends a traditional understanding of how people come together?

MT: While I do not like the phrase ‘alternative community’ too much, I think it is true, and I hope, that the youth are a strong community and have a voice that will shape the future. In the US, it is so easy to focus on oneself and the consumer culture, and forget that people have to stand up and stand for something. It inspires me to see so many young people standing up and having a voice – they are strong and express how they feel. They demand to be heard and they demand to be treated a certain way. They are unafraid of being who they are and this is extremely important and a critical part of Young American.

NR: What role does the human form play in your work, and how does this change depending on what you intend to convey – in terms of your own body [Between Flowers, Rocks, Trees and Self] to up-close shots of people’s faces in Young American?

MT: In a way, it’s not that different. My self-portraits in nature are about identity, displacement, celebration and trying to connect to my youth growing up in the forests of Mikulov. When I came to the US, those memories were all that I had, and I struggled to find my identity in a new country. On reflection, this was me trying to fit into the American landscape, or to find my place in the American landscape. And Young American is very much the same idea of trying to see how I fit in the American society.

“The portraits are really of them, me, and us. We are all in their eyes. We are human.”

NR: How has the format of photography opened up the possibilities of expression for you? 

MT: I love taking photographs. I really love the process of looking through the little view finder of my Yashica T4 and concentrating on the moment before I press the shutter. It’s just the fact that I can shoot anybody I meet and really capture them in their own way. I’ll meet people at openings, or on the subway, or I’ll see somebody I want to shoot on Instagram, and what photography does is allow me to actually create a real connection with them, and capture that in the photo. In a way, photography has really allowed me to be me, and I found out who that is through this process. It has been magical.

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