For the first time, the cross-sectoral project Digital Art therapy Studio combines digital art with classical Ukrainian music in order to achieve an art-therapeutic effect, digitalize art therapy and create an innovative direction at the junction of visual and audio art.
During the online residency “Digital Art therapy Studio” musicians and digital artists created a unique product – a series of digital artworks created with the participation of leading Ukrainian experts, which will not only be implemented in hospitals of Kharkiv region, but also presented to the general public and hospitals in other regions, which in the future will provide a basis for development in this area and create a new direction for collaborations of artists and musicians, which will be of interest to the international community.
In addition to the therapeutic effect and psychological rehabilitation, the results of the project increase the overall level of culture of the population. Accessibility to digital art will attract the attention of a wide audience, and the ability to communicate in virtual chats on the V-Art platform will help overcome the negative effects of lack of socialization due to the pandemic. It also opens up new opportunities for the development of young Ukrainian musicians and digital artists, which provides the development of new talents and lay the groundwork for further collaborations with the medical sector.
The project has an ambitious goal to develop the field of digital art therapy, to reach a wider range of both the professional community of artists and musicians, and the target audience. In the future, it is planned to enter into partnerships with international music and art organizations, associations of art therapists and networks of medical institutions.
Purpose, methods, goals and objectives
In the Digital Art Therapy studio project, Aleksandra Khalepa coordinated artists working with the art of new media. The unifying goal of the projects is to create joint work by synthesizing audiovisual art practices into therapeutic experience.
The project is an interesting idea to combine art therapy, digital art and classical music. It included a series of lectures, where artists studied visual methods of improving the condition of people experiencing special psychological experiences by using the tools of media art and classical music. As part of Yevhen Vashchenko’s lecture “Parametric media art installations in public space” participants learned what is parametric architecture, interactive media art installations, algorithmic music and how to integrate a multimedia project in the context of a modern city.
During a lecture by Alexander Sirous “The art of new media in the context of the development of virtual and augmented reality” the artists explored innovative media art technologies to create art in virtual reality. Svitlana Reinish’s lecture “Video mapping – the art of large format” covered the main world events to demonstrate the work of video mapping. The artists found out about the leading tools and technologies for creating video mapping and learned how to promote their own work.
As part of a series of lectures, Glib Divov shared his experience of using art therapy, sound design and artificial intelligence in media art practice. During the lecture, participants together with an expert explored what is artificial intelligence, the art of sound and how to use these practices in art therapy.
In this case, Alexandra, as a curator used the method of mutual learning. This is a relatively new research paradigm based on the idea of cooperation combined with the organization of interaction between participants. During a series of lectures, the artists communicated through the use of techniques that require active independent work and interaction of participants. The methodology includes the involvement of artists in the active study of concepts and theories with their subsequent explanation to their colleagues. The result of the lectures was a collective creative research.
Thus, as part of the project, we brought together 15 artists working in the techniques of wiring, video art, audiovisual performances, interactive installations, creating virtual worlds, creating artworks in virtual and augmented realities and combining artificial intelligence technologies in artistic practice.
Work on the projects lasted more than two and a half months in a remote format. In these conditions, the creative process took place in the form of individual artistic research with the subsequent coordination and formation of the overall concept of each of the artworks at team meetings in online format. Inspired by the theme of the project and the music of fellow musicians, the artists sought to create a visual experience shrouded in their own ones while modeling the state of the potential visitor.
In Vitaliy Yankov’s “Island with Daffodils”, the viewer is transported to the island, where small scenes of restoration of integrity gradually take place: reconstruction of the bridge across the reservoir, rise of a fallen column, lowering of glass partitions covering the landscape. Daffodils bloom on the island, in the evening you can hear the intense cinematography of Viktor Kosenko’s composition “Dreams”. The island with daffodils imitates the visuality of low-budget video games, offering the viewer their the most basic function – to get lost and dissolve for 4 minutes in a digital simulation.
Vitaly’s work “Kenneth” refers to the objects of Kenneth Noland (1924-2010), a representative of American color painting, such as his direction as the “Washington color school”. The colors of the form replicate colors of the walls of the psychiatric clinic in the Danish town of Helsingor (project BIG group, 2005) – blue-green spectrum with lighting. The Kenneth Project is about maintaining integrity, which is made up of several components that, when able to move, hold a single figure. The viewer can clear the mind of thoughts and associations by contemplating Kenneth’s slow-moving choreography.
Svitlana Reinish’s audiovisual composition “Murmuration” was created as an experiment to study the impact of audiovisual content on the viewer. Murmuration – a phenomenon of coordinated flight of a large flock of birds, forming dynamic three-dimensional figures of variable density. Observation of the natural phenomenon gave impetus to the creation of this work. Combining the movement of visual elements with the rhythm of music, the artist tries to show variability and beauty in constant transformations of forms.
Abstract non-illustrative style of animation gives space for personal interpretation of what is seen and immersion in the feeling. Thus, the artist tries to immerse the viewer in a meditative state through the observation of bizarre images of abstract forms.
In “The Waltz of Immersion” Svitlana created a space where the viewer is in the middle of the sea and observes an unusual phenomenon similar to the northern lights. Despite the excitement of the water, the radiant forms flow calmly and smoothly, changing colors to the melody of a waltz. Music and visual space together create a virtual experience in which the viewer has the opportunity to immerse themselves in a sense of peace and beauty.
In Vartan Markarian’s “Paths of a Dream” the author explored the limits of the influence of color on a person, in terms of how color generates positive fantasies. Moving away from the surrounding reality, Vartan created a new artificial world, not limited by anything but the imagination of the observer, where pain, anxiety, illness – dissolve and disappear.
Vartan’s meditation artwork “Watching the Sun” is a journey into the depths of fantasies, where viewers have the opportunity to visualize their recovery. The author was inspired to create the video by an excerpt from John Kehoe’s book “The Subconscious Can Do Anything”: “I started meditating twice a day for 15 minutes. On an imaginary screen in my head, I drew my body and tumor. During each meditation session, I was imagining that the tumor had shrunk down. It was happening all-in-all in my mind. I could imagine anything I wanted. I imagined how cancer cells disappear under the influence of my immune system… “
Olga Fedorova’s project “Shodō” visualizes the Japanese art of calligraphy. This paper examines the practices of Zen Buddhism as a way of meditation, concentration, purification of the mind and achieving satori – enlightenment. When performing calligraphic exercises, it is necessary to free the heart and mind from the worries of the world around. Focus only on the meaning of the created symbol, become one with it.
By controlling the brush, the writer gets control over his own body, thoughts, emotions. By mastering the writing of symbols, conquering them, he also gains power over what they mean – over phenomena and feelings, both positive and negative. Olga’s project is a video meditation for the demonstration of a projection image on the wall of a darkened, soundproof room.
Olga’s project “Landscape Lyric” is a continuation of the study of writing as a practice of meditation and self-therapy. It was based on two poetic works by Lina Kostenko, belonging to the genre of landscape poetry. In the work, the process of writing texts of these poems by hand is visualized in the form of animation. Two poems are written simultaneously and they are like two layers, synchronized with two “plans” of the musical work – violin and piano parts in “Scherzo” by Mykola Kolyada. The movement of the handwritten line follows the rhythm and mood of the melody, thus creating a graphic-musical canvas of a semi-abstract poetic landscape that unfolds before the eyes of the observer.
In Pavel Bestuzhev’s “Dream” dreams are studied as a reflection of human desires, aspirations or ideas about the world around. This project is like a music box with its own world of travel, light spheres that are constantly in interaction, and a world of searching for something deeply hidden. The melody of the Ukrainian lullaby in combination with warm green, orange and pink tones creates a new structure: watching the transformation of its shape into other materials you achieve a certain relaxation. It is like a mandala that enchants, like a new form of life that just exists side by side and can be safely explored to understand its essence.
Paul’s “Mandry / for_rest” explores the search for one’s own path as the right to choose, the right to discover something new or something you no longer remember, but know exactly what it was like. Constant restrictions, different notions of the world around us often create artificial barriers and limit the imagination. But it is better to allow yourself to open the window again and leave the room of these restrictions, find the way again and expand your horizons. Who knows where such a path can lead? It’s an interesting journey and search for your own harmony.
Svitlana Reinish’s project “Elegy” is a meditative lyric of melancholic content, which carries mixed feelings of sadness and joy. The visual-audio composition of the artist and the ensemble “FM a capella band” is a bright and melancholy reminder of relatives and friends who have not been with us for a long time. Individual perception of the soul’s appearance is different, but smoothness and elusiveness is one of its common characteristics. Through plastic abstractions accompanied by “Elegy”, the author conveys the variability of tender and warm memories, slows down reality and dissolves in the sense of the moment.
Svitlana’s “Marimba” artwork visualizes optical illusions that create a hypnotic effect on the viewer. Unobtrusive observation of the moving elements helps to unload the visual concentration. The expressive sound and lightness of the accompanying composition together with the combination of rhythmic flickers gives us a joyful and warm mood.
Yevhen Vashchenko’s “Mood Sequencer” is a system of interconnected elements of harmonies in sound and visual digital art, synthesized in real time, using simple algorithms programmed by the author and combined into a single harmonic composition. The paper combines two algorithms for generating a composition, which were developed by the artist during his own study of systems for constructing harmonious compositions that can generate mood.
The dynamic development of audiovisual composition in the artwork allows on the one hand to immediately draw the attention of the visitor or viewer, who perceives the artwork, to the content, look at the development of the dynamic composition, and then contemplate the development of the artwork from any moment while feeling harmonious patterns. On the other hand, the speed of development of the composition makes it possible to feel the number of harmonic measurements at the subconscious level for a limited period of time.
Yulia Bilyaeva’s video work “Rebirth” shows the process of development the image in sculpture sphere. The artist used scanned copies of famous sculptures: from the Willendorf Venus to a porcelain statuette of the Soviet period. The video shows the viewer a kind of rebirth. It demonstrates that at all stages of human development, the global issues of life, beauty, struggle, and death are the same. We can say that these themes unite times and epochs, flowing, evolving, dying and being born again.
It is useful for a person in a complex psychological state to look at their feelings and at themselves globally, to understand that they are not the only one concerned about health, happiness, love, death. These feelings have always found their place in art, it is with the help of art that humanity has overcome its fears and experiences. The video is also educational, because with the help of 3D technology it is much easier to acquaint the viewer with the world’s masterpieces of sculpture. The author deliberately abandoned modern sculpture in this project, in order to demonstrate to the viewer something unifying, intuitively familiar to many people.
The work of Bohdan Oleksienko “Fields” was based on the principle of color field painting, a direction in abstract expressionism of the 40-50s of the last century, designed by Mark Rothko and Burnett Newman, in which color is seen as the purest, free of details way of conveying emotions. Given the specifics of the project, the abstraction of images provides more space for relaxation and observation of multiforms, which, responding to each of the musical notes, literally “come to life” and begin to interact with each other, space and viewer, creating an abstract “watercolor” landscape.
In Bohdan’s “Heavenly” abstract form moves along a supposed meditative trajectory like a fish in water, filling space or changing the texture depending on the pitch of the piano, creating a bizarre illusion of materiality and permanence in the abstract medium, thereby distracting the mind and its consciousness levels.
Roman Minin’s AR-project “Box with petals” is consisting of a wooden box of 8 boards, on which pasty paint is applied with strokes of complex color. When stationary, they resemble dried flowers, but when a person picks up one of these boards, the flower begins to shine brightly, bloom, but then withers again. This process does not look naturalistic, but rather fantastic. The stage of withering is always the stage of prosperity, because everything is cyclical. This work can be a good reminder for those who are depressed or in the state of search. By interacting with work, a person is faced with a new way of presenting a book in the form of a box and touches art, feeling that it is a material thing in which there is nothing supernatural.
Dmytro Popov’s work “Butterflies” is digital drawings in cyberspace. The work was performed in the Tilt Brush program using a Vive virtual reality helmet. The process of drawing and creating butterflies turned out to be therapeutic for Dmytro, so he decided to share his experience with the audience by creating drawings with musical accompaniment.
Aleksandra Krolikowska’s artwork “Dumka-Shumka” is a video of reflection on the issue of “self” and identity. The artist refers to the visual code of the cultural and historical landscape. The story of a performative journey to oneself, during which the search for one’s “self” is accompanied by a direct experience of tactile dialogue with nature.
The path to self-knowledge is reflected in universal natural images: the study of its own origins is shown by touching the roots of trees, achieving the goal embodies the climbing up the hill, contemplation of the ephemerality and cyclical nature of being manifested in interaction with the river. Acceptance of the inseparability of oneself from natural processes leads to the realization that the “I” is also a natural organism, which is characterized by cyclicity, change and development.
Just as Mykola Lysenko’s composition “Dumka-Shumka” demonstrates the relationship between reasoning, inner reflection and active experience, game or dance, so the video encourages to look into the external horizons and dive into the inner depths of oneself at the same time.
“Butterfly effect” by Alexandra is studying the symbols of a soul immortality. The psyche, the embodiment of the human soul, was imagined and depicted as a girl with butterfly wings. In Christianity, the stages of butterfly’s growth symbolize life, death and resurrection, and they are cyclical processes. Life is full of immense chaos, and we never know how small changes affect global processes.
Thus, the “butterfly effect” can be applied to mental processes, considering the development of each individual as a guarantee of the all mankind progress. Just as the Butterfly Nebula contains both the extinction of old stars and the radiance of newly born stars, so humanity today is on the verge of transition from one state to another. Change is always a pain for the past and a joy for the future, and to go through the inner transformation, you must learn to see the beauty and grandeur of the process. After all, only realizing that everything is inextricably linked, we are able to open new ways to unleash the potential of the inner universe.
Yuriy Tymoshenko’s audiovisual work “Fire” was created using an algorithm designed to generate realistic images of a person. The artist collected about 900 images of fire and trained artificial intelligence on this algorithm. The video shows the state of transition from one point of the obtained model to another, or latent walk. The aesthetics of fire as an eternal element illustrates the movement of life and captures attention, distracting the viewer from everyday worries. The visual part of the artwork calms and relaxes the viewer, while the audio conveys a state of latent anxiety with brief moments of relief.
In the artwork “Moonlight valley” Andriy Tymchenko explores the advantages of music as means of therapy. It was decided for the project to follow nature as a visual content that represents music. Nature is something that everyone can relate to. Unlike music, it is inherently beautiful. The aim was to highlight the simple and easily recognizable things in our environment and connect them with the emotionally touching essence of music. While doing so, we hope to increase the value of life. According to Carl Jung: “The least of the things that make sense in life is worth more than the most without it.”
Alexander Sirous’ artwork “Points of Perception” is an attempt to study the influence of psychosomatics and external visual and audio stimuli on humans; documentation of impact actions in the form of a pattern or symbol to be printed in the environment. The participant is influenced by the sound and color spots directly generated on the stage. This is a generated video robot in which the audio was composed using real-time geometry. The project can be played in virtual reality using a VR device, or using a smartphone.
The project of Andriy Krapivchenko and Merman team “Water” is built in reality of wood and metal, the height of the sculpture is 3 meters, length – 12, width – 3. In 2022, the sculpture will be transported to the United States, Nevada, to represent Ukraine at the Burning Man. The work explores the problem of daily choice. We move every day, keep ourselves afloat, sometimes it seems to us that we are about to go to the bottom, up or down – only our choice. We all have something from Water: we are looking for the shore and new discoveries. We make important decisions every day and it is up to us whether we get stuck or continue moving.
From the point of view of classical psychoanalysis, a main mechanism of correction and influence of art therapy is the mechanism of sublimation. The main goal of art therapy is to harmonize the development of personality through self-expression and self-knowledge. It is these theses that guided artists in creating audiovisual works.
The impact of artworks on the viewer requires additional research and consideration by specialists in the field of psychotherapy. The works are united by common emotional effects, such as calmness, harmony and contemplation. We hope that the Digital Art therapy Studio project will continue and be transformed into an interesting art practice.
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