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“The demon is a figure that somehow relates to this whole story of the Information Age.” Polish artist Agnieszka Polska dives deep into her four-screen video installation, The Demon’s Brian from 2018.
Initially created for the Hamburger Bahnhof museum in Berlin, The Demon’s Brain takes inspiration from a historical mail exchange from the official salt mines in 15th century Poland: “An early capitalistic enterprise that was functioning within the background of the society,” Agnieszka Polska explains. To operate the mines were burning coal and wood, used hired labour and taking more and more debts. Polska elaborates: “An idea that links it to how contemporary cooperation’s or a bank function with immaterial capital.”
In the video, we meet a fictional character, The Messenger, who is delivering letters he cannot read because of illiteracy: “I was thinking of the figure of an artist a bit,” she says and continues: “I thought it was interesting to imagine the figure of an artist as an illiterate messenger.” On his quest, The Messenger encounters an animated figure, The Demon: “The demon is some sort of combination between an invisible, cute cat and a bird.”
There is an underlying duality in how the term ‘demon’ can be interpreted. “One definition of the demon is, of course, this vicious or evil figure in mythology that can affect the lives of humans. But there’s also another definition that comes from the computation. In computation, ‘demon’ is a process that runs in the background and can affect the user of the system but is not affected by the user. It’s also invisible to the user.”
Digital imagery and animation are a central part of Agnieszka Polska’s practice: “I wanted to present this paradox which comes to the fact that while humans are very much afraid of AI, in fact, AI is just an extension of existing social structures and division of labour. Everything that is horrifying about AI is just something that was basically driven from the horror that was created by humans.” Though The Demon is animated, it still has a natural quality about its movement: “It was animated after my face. I was using the tools of face tracking,” Polska explains. Besides the visual stimuli, the sound is also essential in the piece: “In my practice, I’m very much interested in all the sound stimuli that affect the brain of the viewer. Very early, I started to become interested in a phenomenon called ASMR.”
The Demon’s Brain is, by all means, an immersive piece of art. The many various elements give the viewer a feeling of being immersed into the piece: “I think that it’s not really working if the piece is too simple. It needs to have lots of layers, and it needs to be complex enough to get the feeling of having your body submerged in the story,” Polska says and continues: “I don’t want to create a simulation, I want to create a collage.”
Agnieszka Polska (b. 1985) is a visual artist born in Lublin, Poland. She lives and works in Kraków and Berlin. She has presented her work at numerous international museums such as New Museum, The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Centre Pompidou and Palais de Tokyo in Paris, Tate Modern in London, Hirshhorn Museum in Washington DC and Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin. Polska participated in the 57th Venice Biennale, 11th Gwangju Biennale, 19th Biennale of Sydney and 13th Istanbul Biennial.
Agnieszka Polska was interviewed by Tine Colstrup at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark, in September 2020.
Camera: Klaus Elmer
Edited by Roxanne Bagheshirin Lærkesen
Produced by Tine Colstrup
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2021
Louisiana Channel is supported by Den A.P. Møllerske Støttefond, Ny Carlsbergfondet and C.L. Davids Fond og Samling
The Demon’s Brain (2018)
Film by Agnieszka Polska
Produced by Freunde der Nationalgalerie
Curated by Sven Beckstette
Production Designer – Lynhan Balatbat-Helbock
Production Manager – Dagmara Konsek
Messenger – Bartosz Bielenia
Director of Photography – Michał Dymek
Sound Design – Igor Kłaczyński
Character Animation and Lip Sync – Nathan Gray
#AgnieszkaPolska #Animation #VideoArt
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