In an era where interconnectivity between humans is often demonstrated to be ominously mediated by technological platforms (such as the recent surge of pokemon go related robberies), the work of the Dutch artist duo Pinar Demirdag and Viola Renate of “Pinar & Viola” is a reminder of the utopian aspects of virtual reality media. The pair met at the Sandberg Instituut as students and partnered up shortly after as a graphic design duo. They now create both personal and commissioned work that promote their philosophical strive for planetary unity through the utilization of technology as a means to generate peace between humans and the environment.
Pinar & Viola’s ASMR video, “Made You Come Here”
In April, Pinar & Viola released Made You Come Here, a short animated ASMR film in which they replace the soft-spoken YouTube actor with a racially-ambiguous avatar who coos the viewer into a meditative state. The video breaks down perceptions of reality and fantasy by seducing the viewer with a sensual experience mediated by a machine.
In a recent collaboration with furniture giant Ikea, Pinar & Viola launched a collection of prints for “Democratic Design Day” in Sweden. Created with the intention of drawing connections between ecology and technology, the collection is a call to embrace the unknown and the alien in order to create unity and peace across the globe.
With works ranging from a surreal short film for MTV to an interactive app for Nicopanda, Pinar & Viola’s “Couture Digitale” forms a collection of works that correspond to the duo’s pledge to create art in line with their individual fantasies, highlighting the sacredness of nature. We met Pinar & Viola at their studio in Paris to discuss the breaking down of barriers between virtual realities and the ‘real’ world, the use of technology as a healing tool and the possibility of creating artwork that is as relatable as fashion.
Pinar & Viola Collaboration with Nicopanda, Artist pose for a selfie as pandas.
Can you tell us about the process of creating healing tools for the future?
P: I’m becoming more and more self aware because of my image being publicly seen. We have such a control over our image in the digital world. This behavioral pattern also repeats in my real world so I’m constantly aware of what I am seeing, how I look, which words I’m using, with whom I’m hanging out with, what image I’m posting. The more I become trapped in my self-observation the less I feel playful. ASMR videos, outer body experiences, unconventional travels, they all help me be less self centered. I can create tools to make me momentarily forget all of my self awareness. This is true freedom. This is the true spiritual enlightenment.
What fueled the idea for Made You Come Here?
P: ASMR has [traditionally] been performed by ‘real’ people through one-on-ones, creating this connection and sensuality through the screen and webcam. This is an oxymoron: Sensuality and computer. We wanted to imagine the future of sensuality in the virtual world. It starts with a human, but then shifts to become completely digital.
What is the significance of the mantra in Made You Come Here?
V: I think it’s really the package of him being this virtual beautiful man saying important things about the world, that it is our shared home. For me, that’s the moment when I get a tingling sensation. I love it’s a message. One of our aims with this video is to give a contemporary peace message and it has really liberated itself from association with this new-age dusty message of peace that we are also very tired of. We do need these peace messages but they just need to be revamped and updated.
P: A lot of things come and go. We are all so interested in novelties. There is one thing which is real at all times and it’s nature. Nature encompasses a few more ingredients with peace, silence, and love. You extended to compassion after words, but these three core ingredients and peace is something which was valid 3,000 years before Christ, to 2016. However we are such visually driven people that when I say peace a lot of people still think of John Lennon and flower power. That is the reason why me and Viola made our profession. We really worked on ourselves so that we could become image reading experts. Somebody needs to take on this challenge, somebody needs to update this peace message visually.
How does breaking down the barriers of virtual life vs. reality make room for interconnectivity, a big theme in your work?
P: We are trying to expand our minds. Who says that we need to make everything in such a conventional way? We follow this whole habit of working, meeting, getting married, having babies, and dying. Why can’t we shift conventional proportions and travel in different dimensions? Being one with the ASMR video, or some outer body experience allows this to happen.
V: We talk about about how scary it can be to have this big contrast between the real world and the virtual world. It also depends on your mentality because you actually decide which one is the real world for you. It’s just a concept that we all agreed on. That is the same as the fantasies of inner strength that we build—you decide what is true and you decide the thoughts that you have. I think the internet is really empowering because there’s so much information there that can enlighten you and there are so many people that you can connect with that are in the same kind of mentality as you. In our work as artists, we are really looking for that empowerment. Its part of our personal lives and our professional lives.
Why does ASMR make people feel good about themselves?
V: Because it is really an incredible message of love and peace. It says something that people find very hard to say because it is difficult to be intimate—people are afraid to be hurt. To be intimate and to be kind to each other and express our most intimate sensitive feelings… this man does it without holding anything back.
Are you working on new material with ASMR?
V: With ASMR no, with healing, yes. Every year we launch a collection where we take the challenge updating a visual language and sort of creating a highly open minded scenario to make people see the future differently or to challenge them. This year’s challenge is revamping ecology and environmental peace messages through healing. The one that you have seen the Paris video was for Top21 ecology summit where we made the mother earth come alive in Paris and we made a print which bears mother earth inside.
Pinar& Viola’s “Mother Erath in Paris”
We also made a Gaia dress that will be auctioned. All of the elements and prints that are being auctioned were made around the theme of healing so there are a lot of messages in the prints, but also it’s about the healing qualities of print itself. Since these shirts are unique, you can see them as artworks that you hang on your wall. But now you don’t hang it on your wall, you wear it. And you just carry it out into the world. It also has a lot of peace messages and environmental statements on it. It’s kind of a new contemporary way of visual activism which is still attractive and appealing and it has a cool style as well.
We wanted [the Mother Earth Dress] to be available for everyone. We aim to have experiences of the prints online as well, so wherever you are in the world, when you have internet, you can even play with the prints yourself.
Where do you get your ideas from?
P: Everywhere. Once the tap is open then anything goes. I get it from you, from the bakery, from all this weird internet travels.
V: A lot of the ideas often come from various specific personas. A certain obsession or someone that is groundbreaking or someone that is reinventing norms. Around identity or sexuality is where we often find the gold. We are inspired by people that are doing it their own way, creating their own reality. There is often a lot of magic happening where we get our inspiration from. We call it extreme personas.
How does fashion inspire your work?
V: When we started collaborating we were very inspired by the fashion world and how fashion is so close to people; it’s literally on your skin. You don’t need to be an art expert to know fashion. Also, your neighbor or your aunt also knows a bit of fashion as fashion directly addresses the public. When we built our practice we got inspired by fashion in a lot of different ways. We wanted to be expressive and we wanted to be positive and populistic. What we got inspired by is how fashion is so connected to people’s personal lives. Fashion is close to the people. If you can apply fashion into the creation of art, then you can be very generous as an artist.
Edited by Taylor Scarabelli