Ophelia Jacarini: “Technology brings a new dimension to art”

Ophelia Jacarini is a complete artist, mixing bodily expression with the plastic arts. Today, she talks to us about how new technologies have had a lasting impact on her work.

“New technologies stimulate creativity”

You are a very eclectic artist with a focus on new technologies. Why such a choice ?

Yes, that surprises me too. Technology was not part of my background or my studies. My practice is centered on movement in relation to dance and ephemeral natural phenomena. My goal was to capture temporal movement and make it visible. Bringing visibility to the movement is a complex challenge. This complexity made me experiment with different media and techniques to achieve my goals. It’s an endless journey, I constantly explore all possible ways to bring visibility to the invisible.

Previously I have worked in a variety of conventional media such as photography, videography, embroidery, painting. But revealing the invisible requires more than that… pushing the limits of physical obstacles. Therefore, I extended my practice to technologies that open up new fields. So I used artificial intelligence, virtual reality, hologram, computer vision, neural networks, blockchain and augmented reality.

Embroidery on metal frame @Ophelia Jacarini Studio

“Holograms, Metaverse as means of expression”

Five months ago, I presented INTRAVERSE in Hong Kong. A sort of bridge between our physical world and the metaverse, this exhibition featured elements of motion capture, interactivity and augmented reality. In the metaverse, I was able to use my body as a sculpting tool and represent the journey of my dance in virtual reality. By exporting digital three-dimensional volumes shaped by my dance, visitors were able to interact with the digital sculpture without the need for a device but only with their body movement without any tracking device.

I perform my dance and capture movement as well using lightweight fabric as an extension of my body. One of my most recent works LIGHTNESS OF BEING focuses on softly floating lightweight fabric shaped by one of my performances which I captured on video and digitized the fabric by the latest technology. With advanced coding and holography techniques, I was able to present it as a hologram made of beams of light.

Technology is a vast ocean of possibilities that has become an indispensable element in my work.

Ophelia Jacarini - Hysteresis Holographic Sculpture
Holographic sculpture @Ophelia Jacarini Studio

“The pandemic has led me to explore other ways of travelling”

You are based in Hong Kong but your work is exhibited all over the world. How does Hong Kong inspire you?

8 years ago, I went on a trip through Asia to study the traditional costumes of minorities. It was my first time in Asia and I immediately felt attached to the region. During the pandemic, I made the decision to stay in Hong Kong. During 2 and a half years of idle life like everyone else, I had more time to learn how to use new software also like exploring the Metaverse. This closed border of Hong Kong forced me to find a kind of freedom other than the usual traveling life. Eventually, this time of isolation led me to fascinating techniques for capturing movement. I learned a lot about 3D design and hologram during this time and recently started integrating interactivity into my work. From a technology perspective, Hong Kong is definitely a hub, bringing together all the global talent and innovative companies. I had the chance to participate in many events around technology, and I saw how strong the community was, opening up opportunities for collaboration and new possibilities for my work.

Ophelia Jacarini - Intraverse
Intraverse @Ophelia Jacarini Studios

“After the Covid, Hong Kong is coming back stronger and stronger”

What is your agenda in the coming months? Does it include Hong Kong or French May Festival or other places in Hong Kong?

In Hong Kong, I will participate in the Digital Art Fair 2022. In September 2022, I presented LIGHTNESS OF BEING at the CICA museum in Seoul, South Korea. At the beginning of October 2022, I had an exhibition called LIGHTNESS OF BEING in Kyoto Japan for La Nuit Blanche 2022.

We have just gone through complicated years due to the Covid. Do you think Hong Kong’s global role has been affected?

When the Covid pandemic started in 2019, it changed everything forever. Every industry, every person on Earth has been affected. But I always remained optimistic and took advantage of this downtime to focus on my work. I explored new techniques, encountered technological advances, and managed to deploy some of my exhibits. As we move on from Covid-19, it’s already in the past, I see the global economic fallout triggered by the situation in Ukraine as a new challenge. In this time of uncertainty, Hong Kong is hosting multiple cultural events and public interest is still high. Hong Kongers are strong, they stay upright despite all the typhoons that pass. Now, with the recent good news of opening up, I think Hong Kong is coming back stronger than ever.

Ophelia Jacarini - Still image from video installation
Capture from a video installation @Ophelia Jacarini Studio

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