“ Artificial Human ”, Alicja Symela’s work for Neu Now, is divided into three separate elements: a traditional wood carving of a figure of a young man to scale; a film documentation of the act of destroying it with a chainsaw; and a figure created from dismembered parts, not dissimilar to an anatomical dummy.

According to the artist, the work is about “transformation, re-sculpting and re-imagining the human figure in various ways”. As this suggests, the work offers up intriguing questions surrounding what is, in our contemporary technological world, an increasingly obscured line between objects and humans. In a bid to find out where she stands on these questions, we caught up with her ahead of the exhibition.

What is it about artificial life that you find compelling?

The need to create an artificial human is very intense today, we see it in the field of advanced technology, but this is not the only field of human activity which focused on this topic… In the last two decades, the mainstream movie industry has been full of examples depicting artificial life as vivid, interesting and clearly very important to people. And today the big questions raised by this subject also apply to the doll industry. There are now dolls on the market (Real Dolls, Reborn Dolls) which simulate a human body almost perfectly. Furthermore they are designed to replace a lover or a baby and in some cases it seems that they are a solution for people who need contact witch another person but who cannot handle such an undertaking.

How did you feel during the process of cutting up the sculpture? Do you have any difficulty destroying something you’ve carefully crafted?

It was very emotional for me. I was scared at the beginning but at the end it was like a kind of catharsis to me. It’s good not to be too attached to the objects and works that you create and understand that everything can be changed and you are free to experiment and explore ideas with your art, throughout it’s existence.

In your opinion, is there a particular point in which an artificial human is sufficiently real that destroying it becomes a violent act? Is there a clear line?

My work is not only about artificial humans but also about an image that somehow represents a human being. I think that if an object simulates a human body well enough, destroying it will be always considered as brutal.

Do you think the problem of what constitutes a violent act, specifically at what point an artificial human can be violently attacked, is a problem that is going to have to be addressed increasingly often in the near future?

I don’t think so. I think that line between artificial and non artificial beings will disappear someday. They are more and more like us, but we also change. We already put artificial organs into our body.

Artificial Human

You have said that the work lead to a surprising outcome, what did you expect when starting to formulate the concept of the work, what things surprised you in the process?

At the beginning I was thinking about creating my own “beast” like Dr Frankensein. I discovered instead that this act is not only scary but that there is also a kind of beauty in it.

Have you noted any curious reactions to the work, have different people reacted in different ways to it?

I noticed that reactions, especially to the movie in which I use chainsaw, are almost always very strong, but I’m not exactly sure which emotions were provoked.

How are you planning to develop this interest in artificial life in future?

I don’t know yet but I’m planning some continuation of this project, it will evolve.

Artificial Human

Artificial Human


Words and Interview: Charlie Clemoes

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