CA·TALK| Rolands Zilvinskis: Art is (not) just for fun

“The fragment is like a broken mirror.

Think before it’s too late.

Reflect in front of the mirror,

It’s too late to show sympathy for yourself.

Therefore, thought always precedes their shadows or their reflections”.

The above are the sentences in “Cool Memorles V” written by Jean Baudrillard (1929–2007) in his later years. There is no context before and after, which seems to be a vacant metaphysical expression.This prose enlightend me on writing the article for Rolands Zilvinskis (@mr_rolzay used by social media).

It is difficult to sort out, summarize and disassemble the creation of Rolands from a simple visual schema or content interpretation, which is obviously related to Rolands’s self-positioning as a freelance 3D creator and the group experience of the younger generation.

Born in Latvia in 1992, Rolands is an independent digital art creator with great talent and independent thinking ability in 3D creation and graphic design. Like most “post-90s” who grew up in the post-cold war era and the rise of Internet technology, Rolands has an independent personality, always habitually showing indifference and indifference to external things, being bold, direct, sensitive and cautious, and seemingly self-centered. Meanwhile, he has a sense of responsibility in cultural identity derived from his heart and we can see from his behavior. He is a Catholic, but he is independent of the doctrine, doesn’t care about the doctrine and never takes part in religious activities, but believes that death is not the end of life. This integration of experience and ideas seems to be contradictory, but this may be the embodiment of piecemeal cognition in Rolands Zilvinskis. As Jean once wrote, piecemeal experience tends not to reflect in the “mirror” as self-cognition and examination , but “behavior” will respond.

Therefore, depending on his personal experience, there are at least three points worthy of attention in Rolands’s creation: “the use of lens language”, “potential idealistic techniques” and “the existence of film narrative”. Under these three main creative techniques, it is his preference for certain kinds of themes. These include: irony/gaze on social media addiction, such as the works The Poison That Keep Me Alive, Botcamp, I like you so much, Influencer spa, etc. Criticize the “stealing concepts” of realism-such as the Cyber-Hackers, Cover Up, Get Your Head Out of the Clouds, Dying for Likes, Wandering Planet and the themes of existentialism and eschatology-such as The Keeper,Identity Thieves. From here, combing with Rolands’s personal experience, the origin of his creation and the context of his thinking will be much clearer.

Rolands Zilvinskis just turned his thirties this year, moved to Ireland at the age of 16 because of his mother, and settled in a western European country which is far from Latvia in terms of culture, living environment and habits. His mother take up a career in arts industry. Rolands was gifted in painting since childhood, but the way of painting on canvas with brushes and oil paints limited his creative language. So after moving to Ireland, he fell in love with photography, because this way can quickly capturing life scenes. The lens comforted the uneasy and anxious heart of Rolands who had just arrived in an unfamiliar environment.

From this time on, Rolands creative path was opened. After indulging in and self-studying photography knowledge and skills for quite a long time, Rolands turn into 3D digital design.He thought that there was an inevitable creative connection between photography and design. To master the knowledge and skills, Rolands entered the Digital Art College to study graphic design. This became the basis for him to choose to be a 3D digital designer.

Looking back, we can see that the creations made in 2016 -2019, which is the period when he studied graphic design, changed from self-taught photography creation to systematic 3D digital design. There was obvious surrealism and collage misappropriation. By replacing realistic scenes with non-realistic landscapes, a surreal scene is created, which conveys a powerful concept and presents a topic for discussion and consideration to the audience. From this time on, the concepts of “reflecting on the current real life scene” and “how to create as a way to convey ideas and stimulate thinking” have already played a role in Rolands ‘s creative thinking. The thinking logic and viewpoint have always been reflected in his subsequent design creations and entrusted projects, the most intuitive examples being Escape to New Worlds, Dead in the Eyes, Just Things Moving and so on. On the contrary, the sense of lens that he once mastered skillfully because of photography was only presented in the 3D animation that he gradually tried in the past two years, and formed a kind of lens texture similar to film narration.

In this issue of “CA Talk”, we have 3D digital artist Rolands Zilvinskis, a cool and indifferent boy, also serious, rigorous in thinking and sensitive in heart. You can see a creator’s self-thinking and complexity of his cognition.

CA: After moving to Ireland in 2008, lived there for 13 years, and now living in Latvia again. Why?

Rolands:Yeah, I lived in Ireland, but I recently moved back to Latvia for a couple of months, simply because I felt like I needed to get away from Ireland, after living there for thirteen years.

CA: You started studying photography after you moved to Ireland in 2008?

Rolands: I never studied photography, photography was always just a hobby of mine, maybe a few freelance gigs here and there, but nothing more than that. I liked photography, because it helped me take my mind off the overwhelming feeling of moving to a completely different country.

CA: how?

Rolands: It’s the kind of adjustment, rejection and anxiety about people, environment and living conditions around you when you move from one place to another completely unfamiliar and highly differentiated country. At this time, photography distracted my attention from the surrounding environment, because I was addicted to studying photography and relieved my inner anxiety.

CA: So for you, can photography be regarded as a creative language? Or is it just a hobby and tool for relieving?

Rolands: Well,in my case I used photography as a means to just capture simple scenes or environments that could then later on be transformed into something else with the help of Photoshop. But I also loved using photography when traveling to capture and freeze beautiful moments and places.

CA:In 2008 to 2016, you studied graphic design, and then changed to 3D design, which lasted for nearly eight years. It should be said that photography has accompanied you throughout your adolescence. What prompted you to give up photography and use 3D as your creative language? A creative language has accompanied you for so long.

Rolands: Actually,Actually there are many commonalities between photography and 3D, such as lighting techniques and composition and I believe having some previous knowledge in photography has definitely helped me with my 3D work. The differences would be that what you can do with photography is limiting, while with 3D it isn’t.

That’s why I switched over to 3D simply because I felt stagnant with photography and felt like I needed a change. I fell in love with 3D, because it gave me unlimited creative freedom, something photography couldn’t do for me.

CA: Did you receive any traditional art training before you went to college to study graphic design? I remember you said your mother was good at drawing.

Rolands: Yes, my mother used to very good at drawing, so I think I inherited some of her talents. I was also very good at drawing when I was a child, but it didn’t continue to develop, perhaps because this method didn’t suit me. Later, when I came into contact with photography, I entered the field of artistic creativity. I think it was because of Instagram. Many years ago, I saw some artists creating surreal photography through Photoshop on Instagram. I thought it was very cool, so I decided to give it a try, so I started to use photography +Photoshop to create. This can be regarded as the beginning of my creative road, and then with my study, I gradually turned to the use of 3D digital technology.

CA: You mentioned “surreal photography”, which is a very obvious style element in your creation, and of course it is also a very effective way of expression. But why do you like surrealism? I don’t think it’s just for the vibe, and your surreal creations are often meaningful.

Rolands:I guess I just liked the idea of imagining something that isn’t there, if that makes sense? I used to look at mundane places and environments and imagined how I could transform them into something else, something surreal, to alter our everyday thinking.

CA: I like surrealism, so you know René Magritte, right? Have you studied him, or art history?

Rolands: To be honest, I don’t even like art history. Funny enough, when I work on new projects or pieces I rarely do any visual research, because I feel like I don’t want to be influenced by anything that has been done before and I try to work completely off my head.

CA: So“Surreal Photography” created from 2016 to 2019 was your early practice of the language style of surrealism?

Rolands:“Surreal photography” was something that I did parallel to my graphic design studies in college. They weren’t really connected, but sometimes I did put my photography and Photoshop skills to good use for some college projects.

I started “Surreal Photography” in 2016 and I stopped in 2019, simply because that is when I transitioned to 3D, so it just felt like a chapter in my life that I had to close.

CA: When it comes to 3D digital design, you define yourself as a 3D artist rather than a designer. What do you think of this position?

Rolands: To be honest, I didn’t think too much about the positioning of a 3D artist. It is more like a self-introduction to others, and I regard myself as a person who uses 3D design as a means of expression.

CA: Do you think artists should be a social identity and should have corresponding social responsibilities?

Rolands: Yes, sometimes my art can be very expressive with ideas and concepts that challenge some relevant topics, such as “social media addiction”, but topics such as those can connect with people on a deeper level, which will always make me happy knowing that someone understands the ideas I try to put out there.

As for the social responsibilities you mentioned, I think it depends. Some artists create art in order to change something in the world, other artists just create because they like to create. I personally don’t think there’s any obligation, do what you want to do.

CA: Speaking of creation, in addition to those works that belong to typesetting and plane composition, in your 3D creation from 2019 to 2021, I have seen the existence of some movie languages, such as “The Keeper”, “No Human” and “Cyber-Hackers”. I want to know whether the film has an impact on your creation, or is it actually due to the familiar lens language of photography?

Rolands: Yeah, I definitely think films have influenced some of my work. I love watching movies or shows and taking inspiration from them in the form of visuals and concepts. My favourite movie genre is science fiction and I think some of that can definitely be seen in my work. One of my favourite movies to date has to be Interstellar, because it just always sits in the back of my mind whenever I try to come up with new space themed ideas.

CA: The fascination with sci-fi movies is your original intention of creating “Wandering Planet” theme works, right? But I think the works of that theme — such as “Far From Home”, “To The Moon”, “Around The Moon And Back”, “I’m Coming Home” and so on — are related, and even have a story structure.

Rolands: Yeah, every piece has its own separate story and there aren’t correlations between them, it’s just a compilation with all of the animations I’ve done on my Instagram. I don’t think there are necessarily any specific themes that I had in mind when creating them, that constitute one big story. Whatever I felt like at the time, I just created. I try not to think too much into it.

CA: Many of your works involve the discussion of the concept of life and death, existentialism and even eschatology. What is your concept of life and death?

Rolands: Although I am a Catholic, I even question it, but I do believe that life still exists after death.

CA: Is Catholicism your family belief?

Rolands: My grandmother is a devout Catholic. So when I was a child, she would take me to church, but seldom when I grew up.

CA: What’s the matter with the Catholic Church that makes you question?

Rolands: There is no specific reason or questioning point of view. Just because I don’t care about religion, I always keep a neutral attitude towards religion, and I will keep a questioning attitude towards unreasonable thoughts or remarks.

CA: However, you believe that “life still exists after death”. If it is not religion, I wonder what thoughts have influenced you?

Rolands: I can only say that it has nothing to do with religion, nor is it influenced by a specific idea. Even I myself have never seriously thought about why I believed this idea when I first heard it. In short, I just believed it, and I don’t care why I believed it.

CA: Why are you interested in discussing “Social Media Addiction”?

Rolands: I like the idea of exploring “Social Media Addiction”, because it is a subject that is very relevant among young people these days, and it’s something that I understand very well, since I spend a lot of time on social media myself. I just think the topic offers many different and creative ideas and concepts to explore.

CA: Is this the reason for the critical realism works that play with concepts?

Rolands:I’ve just always liked playing with words, phrases or sayings. Sometimes a phrase would come into my mind or I’d read something somewhere and I would then try and create a piece around that phrase. Or sometimes it’s the opposite, I created a piece and only after came up with a title.

CA: Why do you like idealism?

Rolands:I think there is a lot of conceptualism in my work, that’s kind of what I want to be known for, I’ve always loved creating conceptual work that makes people stop and think and say “that’s clever.” But also sometimes it’s not about good concepts and good ideas, sometimes I just like to create something that just simply looks cool. Like everything in life, there’s balance.

CA: So the reason why many recent works are not as humorous and interesting as before is that life doesn’t allow you to stop doing your job?

Rolands: Possibly. I think as I grow older I just become more exposed to new and different life experiences, which in turn might have some sort of influence on my work.

CA: Is commissioned creation your main income now? Do you have your own studio and team, or do you only accept entrustment in your own name?

Rolands: Yeah, commissions are my main source of income right now and I work alone, it’s how I prefer it. But recently NFTs have also provided a really great chance to earn some very good money, which is amazing.

CA: When did you enter the NFTs field?

Rolands: September 2020.

CA: How do you understand the new scene of NFTs?

Rolands: For me at present, NFT is more of a financial model, by which artists can get their due remuneration.

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