Interview: David Szauder

Daniel Gray
Posted May 21, 2013 in Arts & Culture Features

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Focussing on the architecture of randomly-generated forms, Szauder works on finding humanity in the generative abstract, materiality in code. Here he talks about work emerging from the screen into substantiality.

When did you start working with a glitch aesthetic? Do you come from a coding background or a fine art one?

My background is history of art, which I did when I was 21. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to be an artist, or a creative. I then went to university in Budapest to learn code. I didn’t start with visual code, just designing programs. After two years I decided to go back to the artistic fold. We have a really nice department in Budapest called Intermedia, it’s new media art with a lot of conceptual background. After four years I moved to the amazing Medialab in Helsinki, which provides a good coding background and generative stuff.

I started to work within generative art then, but I found that generative art is somehow neutral. Something personal was missing, something connected with emotions wasn’t there.

It just happened that I experimented with some kind of structure and there was an error, some stripes on a 3-D shape, and I was like “what is this?”. It was an artifact. I wanted to leave it like that. It looked good. That was the first point when I started to reconceptualize my art.

You talked about the narrative aspect of your work a little on your blog, could you explain a little bit about this element of your work?

So yeah, as I said that kind of narrative and emotion is missing from digital art. The artform must always be connected with the human. The glitch is a transcoding or encoding error, or a random artifact. I started thinking of how I could add a personal story to my art. I thought about memory – we have a memory, and computer has a memory – so I created a series called Failed Memories, where I took old photos and applied glitch to them, creating a pseudo-narrative exploring the meaning of the memory.

David Szauder, Birds & Creatures (2012)

Do you create work outside of the digital realm? How do you feel a real-world context effects the impact of your work?

I used to do physical installations, but not involving glitch art. The Run Computer, Run exhibition will be my first attempt at using glitch art as the creator of a physical object. I created this bird for digital purposes. I was using a 3-D model, and it just inspired me to destroy it. I was tweaking and tweaking, and hoping at the end I would find something; a human form, an animal form, something I could recognize. And eventually this bird emerged, out of nowhere.

When I was asked to take part in the exhibition, I spent some time thinking of how I could use the physical exhibition space to represent my glitch work and my idea was to pick out this animal, this bird from the digital realm and realize it as a real structure with plastic parts – and so it has a materiality.

Is that a new challenge, creating the physical artifact?

It’s a big challenge to realize how we can turn digital art into a material thing. We can use a 3-D printer, but then the process is automatized. As an artist, I want to use my own hands to build up this bird based on the digital artifact, I use my materiality in the installation. Then is it digital art, or is it sculpture?

So you’re breaking the wall of the computer down.

Yes, it’s a new way of visualization – it’s a big step forward for me. I think it’s important for the audience, to see this work emerge from the screen.

Szauder’s work can be seen at his blog. Read further interviews around the GLITCH festival with curator Nora O’Murchú and hacktivist Evan Roth, and find out full programme details for the festival, launching on the 24th May, at its website.


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