SIME MIA is a digital business conference supported by Knight Foundation. Below, Pabla Ayala, co-founder of pFunk Media and PR manager of SIME MIA, interviews artist David Datuna, who will premier the Glass interactive “Viewpoints of Billions” series at New World Center in Miami Beach on Tuesday, Dec. 3, prior to a debut in the Miami Design District. A version of this post also appears on the Miami Herald’s Starting Gate blog.
SIME MIA will bring together some of the world’s most innovative technologists, media executives and venture capitalists to share and build new ideas in the digital space. The event is a partnership between SIME, an industry institution in Europe, and MIA Collective, with support provided by Knight Foundation.
"Technology and art collide in Miami the week of Art Basel" on KnightBlog
However, the conference also capitalizes on the energy overflowing South Florida this week through the opening of the Pérez Art Museum Miami and Art Basel Miami Beach. In that spirit, we sat down with David Datuna, a New York-based artist who was born in the republic of Georgia, to discuss his work. Datuna’s art offers a distinct viewpoint on national identity using optical lenses as his medium.
Pabla Ayala: Your art has been described as, “a melting pot made visual,” reimagining powerful national symbols and artifacts. How do you select the subjects of your pieces, such as Steve Jobs and Ayn Rand? David Datuna: I’ve always been fascinated by historical figures that contribute to the shaping of national identity, and how they become symbols—whether positive or negative—that continue for generations to impact our world.
Your piece, “Steve Jobs/Ayn Rand” (2011) for your “Viewpoint of Millions” series, used optical lenses superimposed over a collage of countless recurring shaded miniature portraits to create a large portrait of Steve Jobs. What led to the use of lenses in your work, and what is the intention behind their use? Datuna: I really enjoyed working on the Steve Jobs/Ayn Rand project. Steve Jobs was a true visionary, and was a major force in changing the way we see and use technology. His eye for aesthetics influenced art and fashion on many levels. The lenses symbolically express individual identity, illusion, perception, fragmentation and unification. I’ve worked with optics in my art for several years as my medium, both in “Viewpoint of Millions” and now “Viewpoint of Billions.” The network of positive and negative lenses expresses the multiple points of view we all share from within.
How will Google Glass change the way the audience experiences your work in your “Viewpoints of Billions”?
Datuna: The 12-foot American flag I created for this project is a traditional work. It’s designed in a way that an audience wearing Glass—and an audience without—can both have unique experiences. For those wearing Glass, it will act as an extension of my original concept. Glass will unlock a narrative beneath the lenses through video and a variety of immersive experiences. The audience will be able to interact with and respond to the work in a totally different way. The flag will also communicate directly with its audience, prompting questions through the viewfinder of Glass.
If you opt in, the total experience is recorded though the built-in camera in Glass, and cameras in the artwork. The see-you, see-me outcome is archived and sent out via social media to share with the world. You could almost say it has a mind of its own. As it evolves with each interaction, the work will grow far beyond my original concept. Ten flags for various countries will be created in the initial “Viewpoint of Billions” series, and each will be networked. For an artist to be able to communicate with the viewer in this way is a dream. My hope is that one day the viewpoint of millions will be shared, liked or otherwise, and reach the viewpoint of billions.
I’m very excited the first people in the world to see the first Glass-activated contemporary art in the world will be at SIME MIA. It’s a creative and inspirational event, with an amazing group of individuals involved from every part of the technology and art communities, all assembled during an incredible time in Miami; it’s a perfect combination. The team at KIWI Arts Group, with the support of Gallery Shchukin, have curated an unbelievable program. The public launch will be in Miami's Design District from Dec. 4-8. There will be multiple Glass devices on location for the public to try firsthand, so we invite everyone to visit us and become part of the experience. If you go to datuna.com you can register for updates on how to participate.
Will technology continue to influence your work (if so, how)?
Datuna: It’s hard to imagine that technology will not continue to influence my art, everyone and everything. We cannot avoid it. I don't think we should be worried or afraid of it; I think we should embrace it and see how we can all utilize it to make the world better for all of us. … I hope to continue to be inspired by technology and create art with a deeper message that I can communicate beyond the surface, one that in some small or hopefully large way will have some meaningful impact.