Updated: Feb 19, 2021
📷 Giulia Venus Livia
"I was born to the sound of the sea," said Berlin-based media artist Claudia Livia, who is originally from Trieste, Italy, during an hour-long conversation over the phone last week. "You cannot be anywhere in Trieste and not see the sea."
Everything she said was unassuming and unfeigned, and she would often veer off into what sounded like poetry. It was of no surprise to me when she shared her true motivation as an artist, "My gift is my empathy. I give a lot of thought to how people feel. I hope to make people feel connected through my art."
She made it sound simple, and if you only listen to what she says motivates her, she could be like any other artist in the world trying to connect people. But what is deeply remarkable about Claudia Livia is how relentlessly she seeks to rethink and reimagine the word "connection."
For Claudia, art is a medium to connect people, even complete strangers, with each other. It is also a way for people to physically connect with the art through real sensations such as touch, sight, movement and sound. For Claudia, art does not exist, does not connect, and attains no real feeling or value when it simply shocks or provokes.
Instead, art is what is beautiful, and more importantly, something that generates "other sensations. Emotions."
During high school, Claudia had an interest in psychology. "That was the actual choice that I should have made."
"But my creative side- I just couldn't make it shut up!"
Claudia spent a few years in Florence learning Product Design. "3D modelling, graphic design, Adobe... but the work did not turn out to be what I had imagined it to be at 18."
"I was searching for something that was me-- not a picture, but an expression."
She then moved to England and found herself in a truly international setting. "I realized then that I really liked meeting people from different countries."
She then decided to enroll in a master’s program centered around Media Arts in Berlin. "It changed my life. I feel that I have a voice."
Claudia counts James Turrell, Olafur Eliasson, and Rafael Lozano-Hemmer among the artists whom she most admires and sees them as major influences in her own life as an artist as well as in others.
"If you look at some of their art, you might feel that you have seen it before, but they were actually the first. That says a lot about the extent of their impression on artists."
Claudia works with a range of materials and technology to make her art, but what is even more astounding than her technical prowess is the profound thinking that she puts behind each work.
For example, her project Whispers is a kinetic light installation that enciphers secrets by converting sounds of a whisper into electricity which then creates a play of light unique to the sounds produced. What was the thinking behind this?
"Who you really are is a secret, but it is also the closest thing to the truth. People have to live their secrets, but sometimes secrets are heavy and people don't have a person or place to share them. Secrets exist in so many shapes and I see so many of us keep searching for ways to share."
"I wanted my project Whispers to serve as the venue and medium through which people could share anything anonymously while knowing that nothing would be recorded," said Claudia.
📷 Giulia Venus Livia
For another project, titled Emotional Resonance, she created two orbs that would enable water to drop into glass bowls, matching the heartbeat of the people touching the orbs.
"I was in Madrid when I first thought about the possibility of connecting any two people through art. If I was in a room, looking at a painting, was it possible for perfect strangers looking at the same art to share what they felt in that moment?"
In that instance, she thought of art that would give feedback, and she decided to use water for what she calls her biggest and hardest project till date.
"I chose water because it is alive. I know it, but I am also mesmerized by it. It is calming and hypnotizing. It is my element."
What does Claudia hope to achieve as an artist?
She answered, "I think not just as an artist, but as a human being, what I really want is for people to feel less lonely. I want people to realize: you are living, but you are not alone. The people in my life are very important. And I think about how I can create art objects that can make everyone feel connected."
Italians are known for their incredible warmth, congeniality, beautiful sense of aesthetics, and extraordinary vision. Claudia clearly carries that part with her, which lends great authenticity to her personality and her work. The fact that she has chosen to combine this with all that the capital of technology, Berlin, has to offer, only makes her and all her projects more interesting. After all, doesn’t so much of innovation arise from a cross-pollination of ideas from vastly different fields? In that sense, Claudia is clearly well positioned to deliver new, thoughtful and heartfelt work in the future.
She is positioned to make art that not only survives during an age of automation and technology, but thrives on it.
Claudia Livia can turn any past or future global advancement in academia, technology and the arts into a tool for her to create anything that she imagines.
She is perfectly capable of not only working at cutting-edge, but also ensuring that her work remains human and filled with meaning.
There is nothing, really, to stop Claudia Livia from being what she dreams of.
Claudia Livia, a connector of people. ●
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