Contemporary Art @ Boğaziçi - Interview Project

Ilias Marmaras

Sevim Ay Keleş, Boğaziçi University, Department of Foreign Language Education

ILIAS MARMARAS
For my New Media Art course, I made an interview with a new mesia art artist whose name is Ilias Marmaras. I thank him because he is the only person who has accepted to make an interview with me. Ilias Marmaras is an artist living in Athens. He is also interested in cinema. I asked questions to gain more information about him.

S.A.K: As far as I see in your works, it seems that you are criticising technological abuse, such as their usage in wars. Is this observation is relevant or not ?

I.M. : Yes, one part of the works we create is critical to contemporary warfare. As it is written in the text at the web page of the project ,The making of Balkan Wars: the game , “While virtual battle scenes are celebrated for their extreme realism, contemporary warfare has begun to resemble science fiction“. The criticism is addressed not only to the war itself as an act, but mostly to the ways and forms that it’s taking place in nowadays. We face wars that are mediated by the global media and presented as “clean” and “clever” wars . We see in our screens the “spectacle” of the military actions but very rare -if ever- the devastating results on the unlucky people (and animals) that are trapped in the battlefields. The technological warfares that we experience, they try to convince us, that by the use of technology only the “bad guys” are hurt and so the wars are justified and necessary. After all, technology is not –and never was- neutral, technology is born in the battlefield and is mostly used in the battlefield. Which are the origins of the Internet? It comes from DARPA which was a military network. What are the planes we fly with? Modified bombers . Even the cargo ships that transport “goodies” from one place to another. There were not cargo ships. The navy invented these ships. The question is how to demystify technology and find creative forms and ways to use it in favor of the people and nature and not against them.

S.A.K : Also, some of your art works resemble computer games. Are there a hidden meaning in there?

I.M : No, there is not a hidden meaning in the use of video games as a form and a media of expression. Videogames can be either media or games, but sometimes they can be both. When used as media, they may carry an idea from one place to another while when used as games, they can establish a set of conditions within which humans play. Any meaning or message that comes out of the game can be generated by players, and sometimes it might even contradict the game's original design. And this exactly is the main reason why we work with videogames. The fact that contingency is embedded in the nature of the media. In the case of The making of Balkan Wars though, the videogame form that we used is at the same time a metaphor regarding the contemporary warfare that –as I said in the previous question- resembles more a videogame battle than war.

S.A.K :Which types of art you are interested in, even you haven't revealed them?

I.M : I don’t have any preference for specific forms of art. I appreciate and enjoy any form as far as it is meaningful and aesthetically interesting. I am not interested in “art” objects that are nothing more than commodities. And there are so many in nowadays.

S.A.K : What does 'new media art' remind you, what makes this difference in art work in terms of 'new'?

I.M : New Media Art, Electronic Arts, Net Art or Media Arts are just different terms that try to describe an ongoing experiment of the human –machine interface. They are terms that are supposed to facilitate our understanding of these new situations. Of course, sometimes they can do the opposite and provoke confusion to the audience. I think that artists , theorists and the engaged public in the sphere of Media Arts, are trying to enhance the traditional vocabulary of Art and add some new linguistic structures that could possibly reflect the situations that occure by the human-machine interaction.

S.A.K : Are you dealing with cinema as well? It can be a factor for you to be interested in new media?

I.M : I have worked as art director in some movies, documentaries and TV broadcasts. My experience in these fields helped me a lot to understand the media in general and to see similarities and differences with the “New Media”.

S.A.K : Have you ever attended an art school?

I.M : My background is studies on Urbanism, Plastic and Media Arts and Philosophy at the univercity Paris VIII, in a period that interdisciplinary studies were very much favorized by this specific univercity.

S.A.K :Have you received any award for your works throughout your art-working-years?

I.M : We (The Personal Cinema team) were awarded at EMAF (European Media Art Festival, at Osnabrueck, in Germany in 2005 for The making of Balkan Wars: the game project. Another game, Resist Online, had to do with drug prevention and was awarded in November 2008 in Warsaw, by the Pompidou Group and the European Council.