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Tali Hinkis and Kyle Lapidus

I like to touch art. I enjoy touching it when it is expected, when the artist and work call for interaction, and I’m also drawn to touching the cool marble at the Met, with guards ready to condemn the slightest … Read More

By / November 25, 2008

I
like to touch art. I enjoy touching it when it is expected, when the
artist and work call for interaction, and I’m also drawn to
touching the cool marble at the Met, with guards ready to condemn the
slightest movement. Art that deals with technology and new media
often calls for audience engagement, but I have to admit, I’m
rarely drawn to play. There usually isn’t the same tactile
draw, the itch on my fingers. The work of Tali Hinkis and Kyle
Lapidus, the duo Lovid, defies my usual artistic sensibilities.
Lovid’s performances, videos, objects, and other ephemera draw
from the immaterial world of light and sound waves, and create things
and environments that are sensual, even romantic. They challenge our
expectations of what it means to be analog or digital, and allow us
to re-imagine what a life embedded with technology might look and
feel like.

Names:
Tali Hinkis and Kyle Lapidus

Birthdays:
Tali – May 28, 1974; Kyle – October 6, 1975

Hometowns:
Tali -Tel Aviv, Kyle – Teaneck NJ

Marital
status:
Married (to each other)

Upcoming
Projects or Shows:
La Superette (www.lasuperette.org),
486 Shorts DVD release, Artists Explore the Passover Seder Plate
(Contemporary Jewish Museum), State of the Art New York (Urbis,
Manchester)

Links:
www.lovid.org

Favorite
part of living in New York:
Diversity, opportunity, energy.

Favorite
movie:
Why Do Things Get in a Muddle? (Come on Petunia) by Gary Hill,
Pi by Darren Aronofsky

Favorite
ice cream flavor:
Tali – Purely decadent Soy ice cream (Cherry
Nirvana flavor), Kyle – anything as long as it’s vegan and tropical

Last
book read:
A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines by Janna Levin

What
are some of the questions that drive your work?

We
often think about questions and theories of time, the preservation of
time, and time as an element of life, biology, or sociology. What are
the things that form and make our world/life? How do we experience-
with our senses or not, and is there a possibility, in the future or
the present, of experiencing life in a different way? For instance,
might we be able to feel the flow of electricity or of information,
to physically hold it?

Your
work is seriously multi-disciplinary. What pulls you to work in such
diverse media?

Well
we’re two people who have always had widely varied interests, even
before we met. We enjoy exploring our ideas in different forms and
media, it helps us discover new things. There’s usually a very
natural and intuitive flow from one form to another based on each
project and this process give us freedom to explore.

What
project are you working on right now?

We
are releasing a new DVD that’s called "486 Shorts." It will be released
by Analogous. It’s quite different from our other video releases.
During a residency at RPI a couple of years ago we recorded video
that was created by simply electrically shorting graphics cards of an
old 486 computer. We edited the raw footage into 486 very very short
(some only a couple of seconds long) videos that are on this DVD.
There’s lots of room for navigation and the packaging is handmade
using recycled cardboard and circuit boards.

We’re
also working on a Seder plate for a show at the Contemporary Jewish
Museum in San Francisco. We used Gimatria (Hebrew Numerology) to generate
numbers and words starting with the traditional Seder Plate words
(Matza, Zro’a, Haroset, etc). We are interested in interpretation
and translation of information and with this type of translation we
hope to add a layer of meaning to the ritual. The plate is made out
of wood designed on a computer and produced with a laser cutter.

[img_assist|nid=17092|title=Videowear|desc=|link=none|align=middle|width=460|height=460]

How
do you think about using technology in your work?

We
think of technology as an extension of our gestures and ideas. We
always combine handmade or physical experience in our work with
technology. We live in a technological era so computers, circuits,
and media in general make our everyday landscape, but physical
interactions, and making things by hand is just as important to us.

Tell
me a little bit about working as a collaborative artist duo. How did
it start, who does what, how do you hatch ideas?

We
started working together before we even started dating. So it has
been a part of our relationship from the beginning. And it works for
us. As we said, we are interested in many different things but also
have very different skills that are complementary. Kyle is a lot more
structural in his thinking and has a background in science, music,
and engineering. Tali has a fine arts background in painting, drawing,
and video, and a perspective from different languages and cultures.

The
process really changes from project to project. Sometimes one of us
starts with an idea and drives it and the other will help as they
can. Other times we will throw ideas around, spend a lot of time on
wikipedia, make sketches together and talk about it for a while until
the idea matures. Overall, Kyle always wants to stick with the plan
and Tali likes improvising and building up on mistakes. We usually
find an in-between that works well for both of us. It’s possible to
work like this because we trust in each other’s ideas and talent and
respect what we each bring to the project. Of course we are also very
critical in the process of our work, both of each other and
ourselves, but because we articulate the problems and concerns, we
can come up with solutions the works grow and get stronger. This
also sets us up for discussing the work with others.

I
like how you described the differences in your styles. Is this an
Israeli-American thing, gender difference, or people personalities?

It’s
probably a mix of nature and nurture. There are obviously big
differences between growing up in Israel and in the US. Our families
are probably more alike than they are different but in general Kyle’s
family is more on the academic side whereas Tali’s family is more
involved in the arts. We actually like to think of these differences
in terms of the Kabbalistic idea of Zivug, a union of two opposites,
two complementary sides that make a whole.

Often
your work is interactive. How do you want people to engage with the
work, and what interests you in the interaction?

Recently
we started using the term "participatory" to more
specifically communicate these ideas. As performers we are very
sensitive to and excited by the impact that the audience has on the
way a piece is played and experienced. We extend and express this
aspect of the work by incorporating participatory elements into
objects and installations as well as performances. We like visitors
and audience to be drawn into the work, whether they are participants
or observers. Gesture and touch play a big role in these projects.
Since we are thinking about the materialization of media and
communication, it makes sense for us to incorporate these into the
piece rather than to only suggest them.

[img_assist|nid=17093|title=Videowear Avatars|desc=|link=none|align=middle|width=452|height=452]

You
mentioned the seder plate, which sounds really remarkable. Can you
talk a bit about your tefillin project also?

The
project, Retzuot, was created during an exhibition/event at the
Jewish Museum in New York called "Off the Wall." We started off
looking into tefillin more symbolically then formally. Retzuot is a
live video sculpture with two units, one has an embedded video screen
and it represents the head tefillin piece, and the second has
handmade electronic components, which generate live video. The second
piece represents the arm tefillin piece. This piece was also very
process-based ,since we were working on it during the museum’s open
hours and in the gallery space. As a result we had many inspiring
conversations with the museum’s visitors.

How
do the ritual objects speak to your interests and other work?

We
are interested in the relationship between the human body and
technological objects. That is one of the reasons why our instruments
are very sculptural; they instigate specific gestures that get
incorporated into the performances. There’s a similar connection
between the body and ritual objects. We also find similarities
between performance and religious practice. In each there is an
intense focus, by an individual or a group. With this focus we can
tap into a big pool of energy, both literally by using electricity,
and in a more symbolic way to the constant flow of energy that makes
life. We are making this comparison from a secular point of view, but
at the same time we are inspired and interested in objects and
rituals that serve this purpose in religious practices.

We
often think about technology as static, full of gray wires, but your
work is often full of vibrant colors and organic movement. How do you
play with these different visions and aesthetics?

This
is a key component of our work, reversing or challenging expectations
about technology. We often use the term Wireful to discuss an
alternative path of technology development and human interaction. In
our lives as part of industrial society we usually interact with
objects that are becoming increasingly hidden, discrete, and
confined. In a Wireful world, technology has instead become
more organic, bulky, exposed, and overflowing. We hope that by
offering this option, our work is able to express and highlight
biological, social, and environmental connections.