CA·TALK｜Adam Martinakis, the artist who presents “love” with the digital way
CA X Adam Martinakis
The distance between these words and your eyes is my sculptural work.
-Ken Friedman, Riptide score
The above quote, which Ken Friedman once made in 1971 during his participation in the Radicals organisation, points at its core to the spirit of the Radical artists’ de-standardised definitions, de-European conceptualism, anti-academic, and push for non-realistic art.
But in another dimension, when art is about geographical space，the creation and presentation of abstract space, extending further into virtual space, the connection between the dematerialised art and the viewer is inevitably and more directly dependent on the context in which it is presented.
Looking at Adam Martinakis’ work from this perspective, excluding the data used to depict the digital art itself and the technical characteristics of the code and functional software on top of it, the presentation of the work rely only on the context constructed by the visual content itself. Thus，Martinakis has always defined himself as a visual artist.
Adam Martinakis was born in 1972 in Lupin, Poland, to a Polish mother and a Greek father. He spent his childhood in Poland and moved with his parents to Athens, Greece. At there he completed his studies in interior architecture, decorative arts and design at the age of ten. Since then, Martinakis has worked as a designer until around 1999, when he was introduced to digital technology and gradually turned to digital art.
From his basic experience (including his identity, geo-cultural background, upbringing and learning experiences) to his work, it is easy to see a number of connections that have been extended from his early days to the present day: the focus on the ‘body’。
For example：in ancient Greek culture, there was a correspondence between the human body and the soul, and a fit body must correspond to a pure soul. And for a interior architects, the involvement in spatial architecture, the sensitivity to the relationship between the spatial environment and the human being are in fact the sensitivity of the human being to the environment in which he lives. Also，Martinakis carries a deeply concern with philosophical propositions such as love, redemption, life and death, etc.
The surreal context in which these connections are made together in Martinakis’ work points not to the present but to the higher spiritual world and to the state of existence of man as a living being governed by desire in a more unreal scenario. It is worth noting that not only his 3D printed sculptures but also all of Martinakis’ work since 2009, are stripped of the emotions attached to the human being. Even when the subject matter is ‘love’, Martinakis tends to present the good side of things as well as the opposite side of things. All the emotions that symbolise human instincts, be they love, trust, life or hope, are presented in an extremely calm and aesthetically pleasing visual language.
This is the reason why Martinakis’ work is often considered futuristic. But perhaps what Martinakis presents is precisely the most extreme emotions of the human intellect, throughs the breaking down of human instincts — — not only in terms of subjective creative control but even in terms of the expression of the language of images — — even if they actually exist only in an idealistic utopia.
On this point, Martinakis responds: use the imagination as a bridge to explore the relationship between spirit and matter, existence and non-existence, the individual and the universe. Exploring the light and darkness of the unknown in a complementary coexistence, forming the vision of creation, composing scenes that do not exist, echoing in the vivid void, immersed in metaphysical perception.
In this edition of CA Talk, we talk to Greek visual and digital sculptor Adam Martinakis and learn from the conversation about Martinakis’ reflections on himself and the current context in which he finds himself.
CA：The Chinese audience’s perception of you has always been a digital sculptor. But before you create with digital technology，have you studied traditional painting and sculpture systematically before you use digital technology to create?
Adam：I studied Interior Design, Industrial design and Decorative Arts and we had a lot of subjects that were correlated to fine arts. I studied painting in some schools and entered the Academy of Fine Arts in Thessaloniki in 2003 but never really started the studies, mostly because at the time I was already seeking consciously a career in 3d art and they could not help me with that。So I can’t say I studied systematically painting and sculpture. I always loved creating but never thought that I’ll become a painter. I knew it was going to be something with arts but did not know exactly what.
I started to learn the digital tools in 1999 alone and from books as the internet at that time was not what it is now. Before that time, I was strongly opposing the usage of the digital tools in arts, I considered them too cold and mechanical to become a helping hand in expression, but I was wrong.
CA：When did you start exploring digital art?
Adam：After the year of 1999，I started to learn 3d in order to present my Architectual ideas as a designer, but soon I realised the potentials and started to experiment in fine arts.
CA：The human body is an indispensable and important element in your creation. Is that related to your culture or religious beliefs? Do you believe in the Orthodox Church as many Greeks，or you have your own belief?
Adam：No, it has nothing to do with any religion, except from the works that I speak about religion. I’m not a follower of any of them, you can say that I have created a personal system of belief which is based more on science and knowledge but with my own metaphysical addition.
The human body in my works represents the human presence. Not someone in particular and not in the sense that humans are the center of the universe. I love the human body, it has a very interesting design and I believe that it is the most expressive tool that we have. We always imagine ourselves in our bodies even when we sleep. It’s a home and a carrier.
CA：You mentioned that the body is like a “container”, even when we are sleeping, we are in our own body. This statement reminds me of the theory of the relationship between body and soul in ancient Greek philosophy. So is your use of the “human body” element influenced by Greek culture and philosophical thinking?
Adam：Our roots have impact on our lives in general, even in ways that we do not comprehend or realise. So, yes, both my countries Poland and Greece have influenced my work in many ways. The Polish side is more organised and the Greek is more impulsive. Even the weather, the scenery, the mentality of the people can have an impact on the works. I feel very lucky to have two home countries which are quite different to each other.
And the bodies I use, is just one of the elements found in my work, maybe the one which stand out the most, but everything matters. A body is nothing without the mind, the design of the bodies we have is because of our mind, so it needs something more than the body. In fact the essence of the works is beyond the body.
CA：I think, It shouldn’t be more than just a symbol, in your creation, the “human body” has some special meaning or symbolism.
Adam：Yes, it is an essential element of my work, it is more than a symbol, for me it is also a canvas inside the canvas, as I always edit them in relation to the idea and concept that I have each time. Sometimes they are broken to project the fragility of the human presence, sometimes the bodies merge to each other to show the effort of approach to each other. It depends on the work how they will be used in the artwork.
CA：Do you have any special interpretations of female’s bodies? I saw that in the classification of Paintings, you used very skilled painting techniques to depict women’s bodies.
Adam：The female body, for me is the most interesting as a symbol and as aesthetics. It represents all the symbols of the woman like mother, lover and friend. Strong concepts that constitute the base of a society. I consider women as the base of family and society. If I were to portray god, it would be female, as we can find in many past and present cultures.
CA：Your creation seems to involve Love, Bondage (such as “The insiders”), Salvation (such as “ComfortZone”), Life and Death (such as “The waiting hands” )? If religion has an influence on your creation, besides, are there other reasons that make you interested in these propositions? For example, did Eastern philosophy and the concept of life and death also have an impact on your creation?
Adam：Yes, my works involve many concepts, in a way I try to re-examine them and understand what do they mean at the present time because everything undergoes constant changes. A specific relligion does not play much role in my works but philosophy in general is a driving force. Eastern philosophy, has probably, a more intense influence to me that I imagine, especially in the matter of death and life. But I try to go beyond and see thing from a wider perspective. This is why I am very much interested in Astrophysics now.
CA：The works you created during 2009–2012, I saw that you actually created Some surrealistic space scenes, such as “Level IV”, and surreal spaces related to the human body, such as “The Women”. What kind of thinking came about the relationship between the space and people in the original creation?
Adam：Yes, it is true that my eariler works involed architecture and space in general more. It was also a time when the rendering softwares were getting more and more advanced especially in obtaining photorealism. So many of the eariler works were based on the game of „what will happen if I move one light here another there, change the material to that or other”. So, it was an experimantation of the self and the software at the same time. In many works the medium itself was a guide by just exploring the possibilities. I see the same thing happening to many young artists in the NFT scene.
Later, I became more free from my Design side and implemented the human body in the creations, firstly to examine the relationship between the human and the environment and later the relations between humans and the duality of things.
CA：In the works from 2013 to 2017, you paid more attention to the content of love, nurturing (for example: Adam) and life. Why did you focus so much on these three propositions during this period? Is it related to your real life experience?
Adam：Those concepts actually cover a quite vague range and I try to be more specific each time. So when you see or feel „Love” in them you need to look about what kind of love I am referring to. In fact, as I believe, people can get lost very easily in their obsession of reality which also change along with the society. The ideas are very rarely connected to my personal experience, I tend to stick more to the elements which are common in us, than to those which distinguish us from each other. I understand the need of humans to feel „different” but by default each one of us is unique in this universe (therefore alone), what we need to survive now is to see how common we are in the end and how many similar needs we carry.
CA：You have a series called “Materialized”, can you introduce this series in detail?
Adam：The „ Materialized” works, (they are not a serie in the usual style) are an effort to examine the nature of the given material (the body as we taked before and everything that consists it) to the mind and ideas we express through the „material”. The body is a tool, (like art is a tool in general) so my interest is what we do with our tools and how our spirituality is being projected through them. But, all my works, almost always, have many layers of understanding.
CA：The works from 2017 to 2020 seem to have a more direct and profound discussion of philosophical propositions, such as your Twitter avatars “Correlations” and “We were here”. Why did this change happen? Are you paying more attention to the essence of life at this stage? Or have doubts about the existence of life?
Adam：Well, I am not sure myself what triggers the changes but it just might be the fact that I’m getting older (like everyone) and now it is more in my interest to uncover what is there behind our visible and direct reality. From my studies of Astrophysics I have learned that the Universe is full of patterns and I try to spot those patterns also in our behaviour and the everyday life.
CA：In the past two years, the COVID-19 has had a great impact on the world. Do you have any thoughts about this?
Adam：I have a lot of thoughts about everything all day long, so Covid-19 would not be an exception. The main lesson to humans is that we are more vulnerable and fragile than we think. It also shows us that there are challenges that we need to face together if we want to overcome them. It is also an indication to tell us how lucky we are to be living in present time with all the technology that we have. I’m not sure that we realise all those things well, so my goal is to remind and reveal them through the works. I am more worried about the climate crisis.
CA：I’ve trying to categorize your creations from 2009 to the present, there are roughly 4 “series”. The first series is an early work that uses the human body to interpret the relationship between space and people and their spirit; the second series It uses lines (maybe metal, oil paint, fibers or blood vessels) to outline the image of the human body, and interprets the inner relationship of a life with self and others; third, the mental state of a person is interpreted through deconstruction , Such as “Orbis de Ignis” and “Queen of the moment”; the fourth one was created in 2020, with extremely rich colors and a strong sense of fashion, reminiscent of Salvador Dalí’s super Realistic dreams, such as “Long story with no end”. Except for the fourth series, the other three series could says to be intertwined. I want to know if you have any special thoughts on the way the other three “series” are expressed? Or they correspond to your different understandings of different life states?
Adam：I am not a usual artist that will stick to series, I consider my whole work as one big project where every work is unique but belongs to o bigger collection, like humans and society. But yes, inevitably there will be some works in a row (or in time) that will constitute a sub-serie of their own. I look at my past works sometime and they remind me of how I used to look at things at that time. All my work is intertwined, but visually and aesthetically, they might change because I like a lot to play with forms and explore new things. It is just boring to me to use the same style all the time just to make it better. If art is a tool, a style is a sub-tool, I just can’t give too much attention and time to the sub-tool. I use art to communicate and to bring people closer, this is the essense of art for me.
CA：Could you introduce “the fourth series”? These are the works “Between the eyes”, “Deleted sentiments”, “Long story with no end” and “Past_Future”.
Adam：Perhaps, one can say that this is the most visible, at least, serie that I have. It is a mixture of my love to the constructed environment (space) and the behaviour and correlations between humans (time) and all the possible interaction that can take place. So, you can say I am abitious, but I am satisfied enough, up to now, with what I have come up with. This serie actually is also a good example of my thoughts about the concept of „time”. My works, sometimes, might look hard to comprehend, because I don’t understand fully what I do (or understand it in a later time), so the titles can play a significant role for the viewer to guide them to the direction the artwork are headed.
CA：I saw that you have also created some 3D VR works, but not many. Can you introduce these works?
Adam：Those are just experiments in 360 panorama, which is very interesting to me I have to say and you will see more of them in the future. It is very different to work on a given 2d space (I work in 3d but my works are mainly prints which project the 3d in a 3d space), than to have to take into account all the space around you and create a story from it. Very challenging and I am attracted by challenges. I think more artists also will be working in 360 soon.
CA：I really like your video work “MEMOROOMS” created in 2017, which is very philosophical. How did you think when you created this work? Didn’t you continue to create afterwards?
Adam：This work had been also the winner of the international art competition “HighArt 2017”, video category. All my works carry philosophical aspects in them, it is one of the reasons I create them. I remember enjoying creating it, as it was at a time that 3d loops started to interest me more, although I would consider me, more of a Still Image 3d artist. In this work, every room represents a memory.
CA：When did you start to enter the field of NFT art?
Adam：I entered the space in the end of January 2021, out of curiosity and I had heard about it from other artists but never got to take a deeper look on what it is about.
CA：What do you think of NFT art? Does the encryption technology have an impact on your creation?
Adam：I love the scene. It is a new way of dealing with your work in the market, it is actually a new digital market. Being a physical artist that works with digital content, I feel a little at home. You know, I am probably one of the first 3d artists that tried through exhibitions and the social media to show to the traditional audience of the potentials of 3d art. In fact, what I see, in many of the works from the young artists in the NFT scene, is that my work has influenced more people than I think. It is obvious to me, that some of the most famous artists of the scene has been somehow and to some degree inluenced. Even Beeple, told me he knew my work before he became a super star, when we met at a conference in Athens 3–4 years ago.
The scene is new and has many problems, but this is logical to happen. It is here to stay along with the cryptocurrency and it will attract more and more people and this is something that we need to work on more. To bring more traditional artists and collectors into it, to make it bigger.
CA：Is there not time to update the creation in 2021? Are there any new directions or breakthroughs in creation this year?
Adam：At the moment I do not create, I’m having a break. For almost 20 years I have been continously creating every day. I work on concepts though a lot like always and on new ideas that arise and I also paint from time to time. But I can’t stay too long from 3d artworks so I suppose from October I will be back with new line of works, probably even earlier.