Interview with the smartphone-artist Dušan Ristovski: The process lasts until the work hits me
Creating art with just a smartphone is becoming a global trend, and the world pioneer of this type of art since 2017 is Dušan Ristovski, who exhibited his works at the Cinematheque.
In the past three decades, mobile phones have become a tool that has penetrated into people's daily lives. The appearance of smart phones, on the other hand, opened new dimensions of their use. In addition to conversations and text messages, characteristic of mobile phones, with smartphones it is possible to access the Internet and by using a series of applications to increase their user value in countless processes.
Built-in cameras, which are getting better and better with each new version of smartphones, have completely changed the way of life for some people. Here we are not only thinking about the popular selfies, but about the huge possibilities that a smartphone with a good camera and specially installed applications can offer to a person who knows what he wants to do.
Dušan Ristovski and I have known each other for several years, but we mostly met at music events. That's why I was surprised by his invitation to an exhibition of digital photos, which has been on display in the Macedonian Cinematheque since March 17.
A quick look at the catalog for the exhibition indicated to me that he is serious about digital art and that his works have already been presented in a dozen international exhibitions and art festivals, and are also available on numerous internet platforms. The only tool that Ristovski uses in his artistic work is his smartphone, with which he creates an original digital work from an ordinary photo. For the first time, Dusan Ristovski is exhibiting his works in real space before the Macedonian public.
30 of your works created on a mobile phone are exhibited in the Cinematheque. What kind of art is it?
- It is a new type of digital art, created only on a mobile, i.e. smart phone. With Galeria "Gaudi" from Madrid, which represents me, we called it "Mobile Phone Art", because it is different from photos taken with a smart phone. Namely, I take pictures with a mobile phone and then deconstruct the photos, trying to express a feeling, an expression, a vision.
How was the selection of the works exhibited in the Cinematheque made and in what format are they presented in the gallery?
- The selection is made so that the first half are works whose originals have participated in all art festivals and exhibitions around the world so far, the second half is being exhibited for the first time. For every work of digital art there are originals, limited edition prints and NFTs. A limited edition of 20 prints, framed, numbered and with a certificate, from all 30 works, and 20 NFTs, from all 30 works, are exhibited in the Cinematheque. Upon entering the exhibition, visitors can scan a QR code, through which they will be able to download the catalog of works. The catalog is an interactive PDF, that is, by clicking on the desired work, a link for ordering opens.
Since when did your interest in digital art created on a mobile phone date, considering that you were previously engaged in another profession?
- Since 2017, when I tried to create art only through a mobile phone, and I posted it on Instagram, where I was noticed by the "Gaudi" gallery and invited to participate in an art festival. Also, the German indie band Rigna Folk contacted me via Instagram and I created a video for them, only on mobile. That's how everything went.
How many works have you made in this way so far and what is the process of making?
- The number of works is large, more than 700, and the process is simple - I take pictures with a mobile phone, deconstruct the interesting photos and create a new work from them with the software tools Toolwiz Photos, Mirror lab, Photo grid... The process lasts until it hits me the work. Sometimes it's just a click away. One photograph, a captured moment, sometimes glowing lines from cars, buses, sometimes total abstraction, minimalism, futurism, expressionism, an attempt to capture the cosmos, space, time... Quantum physics. It all comes out in the photos. Miracles of colors. Namely, colors do not exist in nature. They are just a separate wave reflection of light from objects and objects that our eye recognizes as colors.
In your biography, participation in several international exhibitions and festivals is indicated. For what purpose do you participate in exhibitions and what are the benefits of participation?
- Participation is a great worldwide promotion. These are big art festivals where world artists are represented. It is impressive to see. All those artists are covered by sponsors from their countries, with the aim of all kinds of promotion and sales. It is a large art market where literally everything is represented, and where as an artist you are maximally exposed to all criticism from the public and from real art critics. To be or not to be - is the question. Very simple.
In the entire process of creation, how big is the share of technology, and how much of the human artist?
- I think that in digital art the most important part is the human artist, and technology is just a tool, and that's all. Like pen, pencil, brush, plaster, bronze, word, sound, musical instrument...
How important is the phone on which the works are created, or perhaps more important are the tools/applications used to create the works?
- Of course, both things are important. At the beginning, it is very important to take a nice photo, which will have a lot of details. So it becomes manageable with good software to continue the process. So, the configuration of the mobile phone is important, the camera should have a high resolution and then with good software all the prerequisites for the creation of a new and original digital work are created.
How is the value of the works defined?
– That's what the "Gaudi" gallery does, I don't interfere. But for the exhibition at the Cinematheque, in agreement with the collaborator of this exhibition "Polyesterday", i.e. "Print.mk", we agreed a price of 5.900 MKD for a print, and during the exhibition the works will be sold at a special price of 3990 MKD. For Kapafox digital print – framed, numbered and with certificate.
You define yourself as an NFT creator. What does the abbreviation NFT stand for and what does the presence of the NFT market mean for the artist?
– NFT (Non-fungible tokens – NFT) means non-fungible tokens (NFT), which are mainly created using the same type of programming used for cryptocurrencies. In simple terms, these cryptographic assets are based on blockchain technology. They cannot be exchanged or traded in the same way as other cryptographic assets. It is a novelty that in cooperation with "opensea" and "MetaMask" for the needs of the exhibition, and in the future, it will be possible to buy NFT from "opensea.io" through "MetaMask" and from our Visa and MasterCard in Denars.
Is it possible to live with this kind of art?
- You can live in the world and the artists are totally relieved. They have patrons, sponsors, sales of works, permanent exhibitions and participation in art festivals. So far, I have no support from any sponsor from here, so we make money from sold works, and the funds are invested for the next art festival, where participation is expensive.
To what extent can the digital compete with the classical, that is, over time, become the dominant art?
- From the experience of art festivals, where literally everything is appreciated and sought after, digital is only a complement to the classic, only a direction in art and I don't think it will become dominant, although AI (artificial intelligence) technology has also appeared.
(The interview was published in "Kulturen Pechat" number 171, in the print edition of the newspaper "Sloboden Pechat" on 18-19.3.2023)