EK Interview: CARNOVSKY

Carnovsky treated us to the most awesome wallpaper of the 21st century (check out his feature from May 2010). Now we get to hear the ideas behind it. Check it out…

Can you tell us about RGB, where did you come up with the idea for three separate images? How long did it take to design all three and integrate them together?
We were working on RGB for 2 years.

First came up the idea to working with this optical effects of colored light and achieve the posibility to show or hide something that appears with regular white light. A “trick” which, of course, is not something new, but at the same time we always have seen application with just one color, usually the red one. Than the issue was to develope a graphich language, or better, a visual universe rather than a specific application or product.
We started thinking about the idea of metamorphosis, in particular we thought about the Ovid’s Metamorphoses in which we find the idea of the make an history of the world as a series of things which transform into other things. And than we thought about the ancient frescos and how it could be possible to make stuff like that in the present time, and so we came up with the wallpapers that for us is not only home decoration but at the same time should refers to narrative and paintings.
As raw material we decided to use ancient engravings, taken from natural history books. The idea of engravings came mostly by the influence of the collage books of Max Ernst, like Une Semaine de Bonté, for example.
We decide to concentrate so far for this series of wallpapers in very specific and consistent iconography, let’s say Nature, which include also human beings. We’re fascinated with animal illustrations, with all these ancient image that have at the same time a realistic and fantastic look.

Working on RGB took a very long time, this is not an instant project: the part of researching the images took long long time. So far we have an archive of thousands of images of animals, plants and other subjects from XVI Century to XIX. Equally tough is the design part. The issue is that each layer should works alone but also should works in the relationship with other two, not only in terms of geometry but also in terms of colors (which is not shown is these images). So the design process takes lot of times and many proofs.
art blog - Carnovsky - Empty Kingdom

Under the each light we see the body’s skeletal structure and birds and reptiles, is there a significance to this pairing?
Is there a connection between your respective use of colors and different content, whether musculature/animals, vasculature/insects or skeleton/birds?

Basically the idea of RGB is that there are many different levels of meanings in the things. What you see for the first time maybe can hide other meanings, other worlds. And what is supposed to be flat maybe is not. This is what we call the “surface deepness”: the idea of “change”, the idea of mutation of the things rather than the stability, the indefiniteness rather than certainty. With RGB we try do do something ephemeral, which continuously mutate. The 3 filters are not supposed to work in the same way, they have different meanings: for istance the blue filters which reveals what is printed in yellow, by the way the color less visible with white light, is the most related with the oneiric. The blue reveals all the sort of things more horribles or disgusting. It reveals what is deep inside and sometimes try to emerge but at same time have not the possibility to really becomes clear, and maybe fortunately.
art blog - Carnovsky - Empty Kingdom

Is this wall paper hand made or did you print it out? Can you walk us through the process of construction?
The wallpapers are actually printed.
art blog - Carnovsky - Empty Kingdom

What was the source material you used for constructing the skeleton, musculature and vasculature of the figure?
All the images are taken frome original sources, actual reproductions of original engravings. The point for us was not to redesign these image but to use exactly these and bring them to a new life, off course, with different purpose from what they originally were made for.
In particular the images of the human body including skeleton and vasculature are taken from from De Humani corporis fabrica, year 1543, of Andreas Vesalius, which is illustrated with probably unequaled masterpieces of anatomical plates.
art blog - Carnovsky - Empty Kingdom

What was the most challenging part of this piece? What was the most rewarding?
The Animalia series took very long time because of the composition of many different images. But maybe even more difficult was the Rosoni series or the Damasco series because of the very complicate geometry behind. The problem with RGB is that you are not sure that the piece actually work until you put together all the 3 images, and very often it happens that the piece you have been working on for weeks simply doesn’t work and in the end you have to discard it. There are a lot of design we simpy decided not to use, they simply seems to us not working and in the end we decided to trash lot of stuff. What we have shown is maybe the 30% of what we have designed so far.
art blog - Carnovsky - Empty Kingdom

What have you learned from this piece that you’ll take and apply to projects in the future? Can you tell us what you’re working on next in terms of projects or shows?
RGB is a project of surfaces, is a sort of skin: so we are working on many other application of it. For instance we have worked on the subjects of playing cards doing a limited edition deck and some lithographic prints that have been shown at Johanssen gallery in Berlin. Now we are working on new series of prints and other objects and I can tell you in advance that soon we are going to set up one exhibition in London, and we will provide you more details as soon as we can.
art blog - Carnovsky - Empty Kingdom

What advice would you give aspiring artists?
Actually we don’t feel in the position to advise anybody. Sometimes you don’t have to listen to any advice but just listen of what come from inside of you.