episode 2 – technology as artistic material | Liat Segal
In this episode we host Liat Segal, a contemporary media artist, fusing together art and technology. Segal observes existence at an age of Big Data by materializing the digital, through the use of software, electronics, mechanics, and information. In her works, she questions intimacy vs. alienation, privacy vs. over-exposure, control, identity, memory, presence, communication, and originality.
This episode was recorded in Google For Startups Creator Studios Tel-Aviv.
*the transcript was produced with the help of AI, mistakes might appear.
Nir Hindi: Hey, podcast listeners. And thank you. And welcome back to The Artian podcast.
And today we say hello, maybe Shalom from Tel Aviv here at the Google for startups campus. And today we have with us, Liat Segal. So Liat, first of all, thank you for coming and joining us.
Liat Segal: Thank you for having me. I’m very happy to be here.
Nir Hindi: Maybe you can start by actually introducing yourself to our listeners.
Liat Segal: My pleasure. So I’m an artist, but I come from a very untraditional background for art. I actually studied computer science and biology. I have two master degrees, one from Tel Aviv University in bioinformatics and the other in decision analysis from Minerva University in San Francisco. Actually, I started doing art professionally about nine years ago and I quit my day job at the time at Microsoft, where I was working as a researcher and they took a studio and that’s what I do full time since.
Nir Hindi: Okay. So you actually started in engineering. You worked at Microsoft lab in Israel for three years. And if I include also the startup that you worked, and then you started to create art, and I’m wondering what brought you to start to create art and why not choosing, staying in Microsoft lab, which is obviously I would assume many people kind of desire to work in a place like that.
Liat Segal: So, I don’t think it’s one against the other. So I always created, I just didn’t create what we call art. Let’s say. I think that art is about the story more than about materiality. And you need a story to tell I was creating things. They were just not defined as art. Let’s say
Nir Hindi: like what?
Liat Segal: I built furniture.I built the little crazy stupid machines, mechanical machines. I think the first thing I remember building was it about the age of five or six and it was a Rube Goldberg machine that did nothing, but I really remember it was a very young kid, but I was also, I. As a teenager, I studied photography, but it was always a hobby and it was something that was the, on the second place in the first place took science and technology.
Nir Hindi: So what makes you kind of, I don’t want to call it a changing place, but actually elevate art to the same level of science. And in a second, we speak about the type of art that you are doing.
Liat Segal: So I think it’s funny, but the thing that actually made me quit high tech was that I started playing with electronics and it started with little stupid projects, that got bigger and bigger. And when I did that, they want art as well. They were geeky projects. But when I did that, I realized that I found my material In art. And I found stories that I could tell with technology and with this material that I started using and just like, I didn’t officially study art, I also never officially started electronics and mechanics, but that’s what I do. So with every project, they get bigger and bigger in terms of stars, but also in terms of the technology that they use. But I also keep using information and machine learning and of course software, which is my bread and butter.
Nir Hindi: I, you know, it’s kind of, you know, now that you are speaking, it’s kind of funny because one of the things that I discovered while running the Artian is that often people think about art or artists as kind of the classical stereotype. It’s a paint white canvas and it’s often even painting. And you actually speak about technology as material and software as a material and not necessarily a paint or maybe Malbin for sculpture, etcetera. And today I kind of want to speak about your art because today you’re art actually is as you just started to mention mix those disciplines or knowledge as an engineer or software developer and someone that built their things with their robotics or machines to actually influence and create your own art. But what you do is that you connect technology with humanity, and I’m interested to know what motivates you in your work? Why you actually chose technology besides the fact that you actually? Enjoy it or knows it.
Liat Segal: So what motivates me is both the material and the technology, but also the story. And sometimes when I start creating it comes from the story, or it comes from a setting or a place where I want to create a and create a location-based work, for example. And then I start thinking of what is the story that they want to tell with this specific place. And sometimes it comes from the material, for example, in my work, the attending machine, It has a pigment that is sensitive to UV light, that when it is exposed to UV, changes the color to a dark blue for a few seconds, and then it fades back to its original color. And when I got to know this material, I knew that they wanted to do something with it. And it took a while until I found the right story to tell with this material, but many times it’s from the other direction, I have something that, that bothers me or that keeps me thinking about that. They want to tell you that they want to ask questions. Mostly. And then I found to find the visual or the material concept, eh, joins the story.
Nir Hindi: So you both directions in the story to the material, from the material to the story. Yeah. It’s, it’s, it’s interesting because you also felt with technology a bit different because that’s, that’s only is honestly what I like about you and your art when it comes to technology because you will be fair to technology like a human in a way or more accurately if I would say you assign human characteristics to technology. We often tend to think about technology as something called on humanistic, but for you, it is the opposite case. Can you elaborate on that?
Liat Segal: I don’t think it’s the opposite because I don’t feel that I attach humanity exactly to technology, but I think that technology it’s just an extension of us. So if we see technology as something called, it means that we are called as well. And if we see technology as something that is inhuman, then it means that somebody designed it as an inhuman object. I eventually, because of my, what I’m interested in is not the technology per se, but humanity. So when you see a work that they created with technology, because it’s not about the technology, but using technology. So you don’t get this feeling of a distance or a difference.
Nir Hindi: It feels more natural to be
Liat Segal: that’s what i aim for at least. Yeah.
Nir Hindi: You know, you are talking and I’m getting excited because I am surrounded and I’m operating. And I work at the world of startups and technology and it strikes me all the time how people skip the ability to quit connected to artist to understand this, way of thinking. And just to kind of a story that I heard is that there are some writers that are developing kind of a, I wouldn’t say algorithm, but kind of a speech stories for Alexa, how you can make Alexa more human towards that. And I don’t think in a way that the engineers can do it, but rather maybe storytellers like writers and poet. But I want to go back to your work because, you use technology to show empathy, longings, and also social phenomenons, like FOMO, the fear of missing out, which actually is the theme of your latest work that they’re presented in the museum of art. Can you give us more examples or elaborate on this work? Maybe starting with FOMO.
Liat Segal: So FOMO fear of missing out is something that we all experience. And I think we experienced it or our great, great grandparents also experience. But today with all the exposure we have to what everybody else is currently doing, we multiply this experience so much because we don’t see whatever they’re doing all the time. We see what they’re doing at their best moments. We see their best dinners, their best days at jobs, at their job is, their best family moments, not when their kids are crying in a tantrum on the store floor.
Nir Hindi: Everyone usually doesn’t see that.
Liat Segal: Yeah, everybody’s perfect. Everybody is looking great. And you know, we have a complicated life. We have dull moments, we have moments where, when we’re sad, where we’re crazy, or like they don’t photo that well, these moments and we don’t upload them usually unless we have a story to tell about them. So when we are constantly exposed it also changes our attention span as well, to what we’re exposed to. We keep seeing all these perfect moments and sometimes we also upload our perfect moments, but when we upload our moments, we keep, tracking how many people liked our upload, and we pay a lot of attention to it. But the amount of time we put to photo that somebody else, uploaded is minimized, like a split of seconds. And then again, we lose it. The attention, like really quickly. So the work that I created is a physical simulation of this experience of this say social anxiety, and it’s built, just like Humpty Dumpty is the objects are about the child size and the move was instability from side to side, they look like a eggs. They have, their color is black with gold leaves. That they are spread randomly on them. And they’re literally castrated by the same mode. They’re identical on one hand, but the gold leaves create them, give them this random and special identity. So each one in its own eyes is a Special snowflake in the world that will never repeat itself. You know, so what they do is when they’re moving as a, as a Humpty Dumpty, they’re actually simulating the fact that they’re now in action. They’re now in the best party ever, and they’re uploading it and. When they move, they also transmit to their friends in this little social network that they’re doing something special. When the other notice to somebody else is doing something it’s very likely that they’ll join the movement as well, but very quickly they’ll get tired of what they’re doing and they’ll stop as well. So you see waves of motion in the space with these 12. egg-like, in stable little creatures
Nir Hindi: which by the way, you may have been, we’ll be able to see on our website later on. And if we have even a video, we can later upload the video if there is one for the work. So, you know, you mentioned the work of a FOMO, but personally, one of the work that I liked is the one in which you have worked with the ceramic artist. And what happened in this work is that people sang to a microphone, their voices were transmitted to an algo with them you build that simultaneously wrote their voice on the plate. Now I thought to myself, how beautiful. It can be as a present, as a memory to hang on a wall, a plate with the voice of our beloved ones. And I think this is how I see your humanistic approach to technology. Tell us more about this project.
Liat Segal: So Plate recorder is a collaboration I did with the ceramic artist and together we wanted to create, create an archive of sounds of human sounds and we asked people to send us recordings. They had specific moments that were meaningful to them in some way. And to write us a few words, a few sentences about these moments also send us the times and place of the recordings so that we create a wall full of these plates that cover the black overglaze that is crushed with the sound waves and the machine that does it is something that is between a plate, a record player, and the throwing wheel where you create ceramic plates. And it has the language of both. And I think it’s not a coincidence that these two materials have the surround motion and the, it, it has, I think that they’re original. Records were actually done in a very similar way. There were really physically recorded in a very similar way to what we actually did and we had the many people sending us to say sounds, and some were beautiful stories that actually really touched me. And one of them is actually a recording that was done by a, a, an Iranian musician from Tiran. He lives today, still in Tiran. And we follow each other on Instagram and this guy, I really adore what he’s doing. Like he’s using tons of very traditional instruments, super talented. And when I was working on this project, I sent him a message and wanted to see, maybe he can send me some of his works that I record them and it actually created. A really interesting conversation between the two of us. And at some point, we had a video call. I don’t know if it’s okay to say it, but I will anyway, a video call between Taren and Tel Aviv, we’re talking for about an hour about. You know, life. I showed him my house. He showed me his house. He played the music for me, and we had like a beautiful normal conversation between two artists, two people, regardless of where we are and the conflicts between. The politicians in our country. And the interesting thing was that when I create a display and eventually when we displayed the plate, it was diff, displayed just next to a plate that we did. in his talk at the UN when he was describing the great danger that we expect from me, Iranian and nuclear. And it was, for me, it was really interesting to see this contrast between the two. And it was a very, very precise moment of storytelling.
Nir Hindi: do you have have a photos of those two plates.
Liat Segal: Yes, I do. I can send you that.
Nir Hindi: later upload them as well.
Liat Segal: Sure.
Nir Hindi: Great! You know, this, this kind of project, for me, I think, resemble a lot of what you do. And I think you are an example, technology companies can look up to when they want to learn how to humanize their product and services, because everyone’s speaking about human centric design, and it’s always struck me how they skip. The most, at least in my opinion, the most important aspect of it, which is art and the way artist think, because artists are always kind of, I would say, experience oriented just in product oriented, and they think about the, maybe the viewer or the, or the person that we’d experience the work it at the end. And you started to speak about it because you mentioned this, I would say common , if I will call it, nourish each other. No? What are your thoughts about that?
Liat Segal: So, first of all, before I get to the art part, I think that when you say that companies want to humanize. Their products. I disagree with that in a way, because I think that eventually, what companies want to do is to monetize their product, to make more money. And in order to do that, they want to create a more approachable products, maybe. So I don’t think it’s the same thing. And eventually when we see companies that we call evil or what they do is evil. I think that the most of them, are done technology is developed by people that are really great people. And they’re very far from being evil. And what eventually happens is something that we see from afar that is maybe evil. And there maybe, is something that can be changed a bit. By artists and art, because eventually what art does in my opinion is to raise questions and to raise awareness of human aspects, of what we do and to raise these flags of even not as direct criticism, because I think that’s something that’s very hard to do when you invite artists for. For example, for a residency in a technological company, it’s not very likely that they’ll have a care criticism in their face of a specific product, but even by just raising question and creating conversation, I think that the total summed effect is meaningful.
Nir Hindi: So you actually had this kind of certain experience because you participated in a startup accelerator program as an artist in residence. Okay. And for the one that doesn’t know a startup accelerator, those often is kind of programs between three to six months in which companies with ideas actually scale up some of their ideas for the market. And the person that actually recommended me to speak with you was doctor Uli managing director with XLH Springer, digital ventures and the cofounder of this startup accelerator. Now Uli was trained as a scientist, or has a passion for art. So the need to have artist in these in this accelerator. And you was, you were one of those artists that actually participated. How was this experience? I mean, what’s going on over there? When a artist join 10 startups in a technology environment.
Liat Segal: So for me, it was first an incredible experience with two, from two directions. I said the first one is just as an artist. I think that. Most artists that do this project, don’t come from a technological background and still have this beautiful conversation with people that come from places that are different from them. But for me personally, it was also really fun because I missed this world in a way. And I realized that the only one I was there.
Nir Hindi: What did you miss?
Liat Segal: And this a startup environment, you know? Yeah. This energy and I find it in my work. I have times that are very hectic, very busy. And I work here, I think, well, definitely much more than I did when I was working as a developer today, but still it’s a very, a self inwards work. Eventually, it’s about me in many, many ways. It’s about like when we’re creating, when I have a team, like now we’re creating a project that, has my title on it, it’s not the product, it’s not the team of effort in it say, conventional way or lean startup way. And to have this is something that I do miss. Like, I really loved the people that I worked with. It was a really beautiful mutual war to fight, you know? So that was one thing. But in generally speaking, I can say that this, environment that makes people from different discipline with different motivation work together. Most of the time, you don’t have a lot of conversation about the art or about the startups, you know, like people do what they do, but just being there and speaking about life and getting to know each other makes some difference because you. Actually, when startup people talk to startup people, they will speak mostly about tech. And when it’s an artist that suddenly is a bit an outsider to this, suddenly the environment changes. Yeah. It shifts exactly, and it creates something else. And I think that that’s one of the most, the greatest powers of having an artist in residence in a very technological environment.
Nir Hindi: So how long you were there?
Liat Segal: For three months, the program, both for the startups and for the artists. It’s the same cycle. It’s a cycle of three months. At the same time, time I was working also on the solo exhibition that I had in Berlin and two major group shows I had also in Germany. So it was a very, very busy time for me. And then I build machines. So I create a mess and noise and I had, to shift my work as well, it’s to stay in harmony with all the other people that didn’t like that, loud sound, sound so much. And I could very relate to that very much. So it was a really interesting time for me.
Nir Hindi: What did you learn from this period working in a startup accelerator? Because you’re share the same space. If I recall, you even mentioned that in the demo day, on the final day of the startups, you also presented your project and you participated in the workshops, etcetera.
Liat Segal: So, first of all, as an artist, I was invited, to use all the tools that the startups got. So it was, we had tons of workshops and mentorships, for example, one of the workshops that we had every week was a pitch session. So we had this guy, that is training people, to give a Ted talks and yeah, and so I joined every week, the same pitch session, and I was very much surprised that most of the things we were doing was not actually pitching, but creating our stories, which is something that is very general and like its fits me just as much as it fits, any startup and any other person or business. Yeah, it was really beautiful to see, like I saw it on the other people, how much people improved their stories and the way the worst telling their stories. So it was a really nice progress.
Nir Hindi: So at least one thing that you learned from them is that how to pitch or at least from the program.
Liat Segal: The other thing was that this program is aimed also to create connections between people outside the program. So and that was something that was done beautifully, both for the startups and for me. So they created the connections for me with the galleries and whenever I wanted the some specific connection, they did everything to create this connection. And I think that’s the most important thing eventually.
Nir Hindi: What do you think the entrepreneurs learn from you?
Liat Segal: So I think it’s not a direct learning, you know, it’s not like, there is something very specific, like I gave a workshop, but you know, there were things like that, but I think that what fertilizes people is the indirect conversations, and that’s something that I can say about my work, for example, that I was talking to this guy who was a developer at a startup and told him, what I was working on and he actually gave me a really great idea that they later implemented, in my project. And that’s part of my project as well, and I think that that was also this kind of mutual connection was also a sparkle, like the ideas that I had maybe influenced other people, but it’s just, you know, just by speaking to people that are not, they see things from the outside is. When you get these moments of sparks, you know,
Nir Hindi: It’s not like action or reaction, it’s more like creating the enivornment.
Liat Segal: It’s exactly it’s like important to have a long process. It’s not like if you create a one day thing, you’ll have the same encounters. It’s the three months, program that creates intimacy as well, and conversations that you get to later, go on and think about, and then you have a night’s sleep over and then you wake up with some ideas and you have the opportunity to go the next morning and tell this guy what you had in mind. You know
Nir Hindi: So, you know, it’s kind of a, you’re talking and I’m thinking if I were a program manager in a startup accelerator and I want to create my own artist-in-residence because I want to influence my entrepreneurs. What would be our recommendation? What can actually create a better environment.?
Liat Segal: So first of all is to physically have people of different disciplines. That’s the main thing, but also to create an environment that makes people for few Hours every week, quit what they’re doing with all the pressure that they do have, and they have tons of pressure, yeah. As an accelerated startup, but as they have their time put on the more practical sessions, they should should also spend a few hours a week on things that are completely and not connected to what they do. And it can be about the article, it can be about culture and social questions and everything that is different and inspiring from what they’re doing and these things give ideas eventually that again, they’re not necessarily direct to what they’re doing, but as people, they will be better people. And that’s all going back to what makes a technology more human, it’s that.
Nir Hindi: Yeah. I mean, you know, it’s kind of a remind me of a incubator that I heard that we’ll find, and they have their business, a training for the startups, but what they realize is entrepreneurship alone is not enough and it must be connected to creativity. So they created the cultural program and every two or three weeks, they will invite the scientists, the painter, a poet to speak to them, entrepreneurs. You started to speak about the first thing you said is actually that they need to make sure that they have people from different disciplines, and you started in a special kind of, I would say, or unique a program in Tel Aviv university that actually allows students, to gain experience in different disciplines. From art to science. How does experience not specializing in one field, but instead moving between various areas influenced you?
Liat Segal: Okay. So I think that, looking back, it’s not something I could say in real time, but looking back, I eventually ended up focusing on the very first thing that I started with, but on the way there, I went through so many sub trajectories that eventually, while studying. Yeah. So I took courses in history, in art, in psychology, in engineering. Most of my studies were in computer science and biology, but eventually again, I can only say that looking back, it helped me do what I do now, and I don’t know what would happen, it would have happened, if I kept my work as an engineer, but I’m sure it would the benefit that too, but also I think that the people who choose a program like that are built for something like that.
Nir Hindi: So one second because you started immediately to speak how it influence you. But can you tell us a bit about the program? What is this program?
Liat Segal: So the last one interdisciplinary program at Tel Aviv university is basically a direct program for masters where you choose the first two years, whatever you want to study from the entire university. I chose tons of courses. You are not limited to, not to discipline and not to an amount of courses that you take, so people go really crazy there. And I personally chose a courses from a mostly computer sciences, biology, but tons of courses from psychology and history and the art and cinema and the education and psychology like stuff.
Nir Hindi: Sounds exciting!
Liat Segal: Really exciting! Yes, the downside or the problem with that is that you go really wide. And usually the program is supposed to be four years, but usually it takes much longer because when you get to the time you’re supposed to choose what you’re doing, your master’s degree
Nir Hindi: you are still exploring?
Liat Segal: no, no you just realize that you didn’t do all, the basics really. So at the first year at university, I did mostly courses of third year. Okay. I carry really advanced courses, but then I realized that I needed to go back a bit. So on the second year I took courses of second year, and then I realized I need to go back a bit more. And on this third year, I was supposed to focus, but then I realized that in order to register to a master degree, I need to take courses from a first year So I did everything right. Backwards, but it worked eventually.
Nir Hindi: Yeah. You know, it’s interesting because even the one or speakers as well on the, on the podcast is actually Shimon that study as well. And he’s a science fiction writer, he is a poet and he connects Judaism with science fiction with technology, with science. So it’s kind of interesting to see, how this program may influence it students, but kind of raise my doubts or my thoughts about why. We as a society, see the need to separate disciplines? What do you think, how people can break those barriers of disciplines that are channeled?
Liat Segal: I think there is a reason for having disciplines because we have so much knowledge. That’s no one can really master. You know, it really deeply all the different disciplines, but it’s really important to have both kinds of peoples, people that go in like into widths and people that go into depths. I’m definitely the widths kind of, girl
Nir Hindi: general specialist.
Liat Segal: Yes. And I t3hink that you need both kinds of people, but each one creates something that is different and in every startup you’ll need both eventually. And also you see that in art too, you see artists that do the same technique, their entire career. I can’t imagine living like that. I must say, but I really appreciate it as well because you see something that is very deep, you see that also in craftsmen ships, like you have these Japanese ceramic artists that do, their entire like as a outsider, you’ll see that they do exactly the same thing over and over and over again, but they do something that is incredible. On the other hand, I think that doing things from different disciplines gets you, like you do, like would never, never have been done otherwise in a way. You know, like, okay. And that also goes to mastering one discipline and like what I did, but then going to a discipline as an outsider that you can bring things say that were overlooked, let’s say. Tradition, like in the tradition and you see that in many and many things, you’ll see people that come from a, the medicine field into tech, you see the other way around, you see people that they are storytellers, that they approach technological questions, and then they get, eventually the craziest ideas that you just then need to implement them, you know? So you need these depths people that will implement them.
Nir Hindi: Innovation happens at the intersections of disciplines. Then if I was, if I am, let’s say a specialist, but I want to break barrier and maybe get exposed to more general ideas. What would you recommend to do?
Liat Segal: To just do, to start by doing like, just go to see movies go to play with, as I did with electronics, go paint, go to a singing retreat, just do. And I think that just by doing it creates first of all, the energy of doing more, but it also opens opportunities by doing you also meet people that are very different from your normal environment and these people will open doors for you, well open conceptual doors for you as well, which is even more important. And just by doing and not just writing to the drawer, you know, doing and showing as well. We’ll make you go to places you can never dream of. And I think that’s for me personally, that was the moment of change when I started playing with electronics and that completely changed my mind and my, my life, and it was very much connected to the fact that I was also showed what I did and I got feedback for what I did.
Nir Hindi: but, you know, showing your stuff means that you are willing to be vulnerable and willing to take failure and criticism and humans have something that often disturbed them, which called ego. What, what do you do in that case?
Liat Segal: So for me personally, very, and I dealt with it in my art as well. I have control issues that are very, very, very big, you know, and that’s part of what I do, so when I create things I’m very strict with them. You know, I have, I’m I’m I have completely OCD in, in my work, but I also invite randomness and I also invite noise and destruction to what I do. So I play with this tension between the two, and I think that’s the same with what you asked, because you have to be vulnerable to get this randomness. And on the other hand, you have to do, and you, to be in control and to be .
Nir Hindi: So you need, you, you, you were mentioning, you need to invite this randomness, but balance between control and randomness.
Liat Segal: you need to have both, the process of action to be active, which also means many times be in control and you know, know what you want to do. And the other side is that you have to invite randomness and arbitrary, things into what you do, because this gets you both into places you’d never thought you would get to, but also I think that that’s many times the moment of being a human and what brings humanity into your work as well, and being vulnerable as part of it.
Nir Hindi: Yeah, it’s interesting. You know, because both as Israelis, it’s something that I’m thinking because you know, often people, especially in startup world kind of, you know, I’m afraid of failure and often they ask you, okay, how many companies you are involved with started? And then you say three or four when they failed, etcetera. And then people kind of judge you, but at least in Israel, we say, okay, at least I started four. How many did you start? And we are kind of not afraid of just understanding that it’s just part of the game being a vulnerable and open for failure, not even failure. Well, we call it the kind of lessons of life or process. You know, I, I want to ask you a question that they kind of always, eh, find interesting because often when I speak to engineers in the world of technology and when I speak to artists, Often the engineers don’t see the similarities. And, and I’m asking you as someone that is an engineer and an artist, what is the similarities between engineering and art or differences between engineering and art or similarities between an artist and an engineer?
Liat Segal: Actually, I don’t see a lot of difference. I must say. I think that people that are successful in what they’re doing, they have to be very professional, they have to be open-minded sometimes they have to be strict and sometimes they have to be open, but eventually, that’s the same for engineers and for artists. I think that the major difference is the area of interest of where, what’s your research and not the fact that you do research or that you do develop something, you know?
Nir Hindi: So what are the similarities because you started to mention trial and, and.
Liat Segal: I think that the main similarity is actually doing.
Nir Hindi: Okay.
Liat Segal: Doing, you know, so it’s problem solving. It’s like when you, do you have problems to solve otherwise, Okay. You’re just a monotonous. Say a behavior. Yeah. Creation. You find in both areas, you know? Okay. You have to be creative as an engineer. You have to be obviously creative and an artist. You have to be communicative as well, in both areas, you work as an engineer, you usually work with other people, you have to tell the story, you have to make people understand what you want to do, what you’re aiming for, same as an artist. I don’t see alot of difference, actually.
Nir Hindi: It’s interesting. So engineers in the room or engineers as listeners, there is no big difference between art and engineering.
Liat Segal: When you say it sounds a bit exaggerated, maybe, I think that artists do give a lot of space for mistakes as part of their process. And you mentioned, fragility. So artists by definition, give space for fragility and exposure. That’s the main difference. Also, I was going to say that engineers are usually more introverts, but that’s definitely not the case with many of my engineer friends, and many of my artist friends are introverts and the other way, so, really, I can’t see a lot of difference.
Nir Hindi: Okay. So maybe we have the same common area with the differences. By the way, I mean, till recently you shared your studio with actually a start up company, which again, maybe that way it was natural for you because you were in the startup accelerator, you work with technology, you don’t see difference between engineering and art in at least the majority of it. So I don’t know if it was natural, as an artist, you actually share this space with the startup company.
Liat Segal: Yeah. So, for a few years, actually we share the space a they just needed of course the table and their computers. And I tried to make less noise, when they were working. And so we had the very, a harmonious and stable, shared time. I think that generally speaking also, they gained a lot from working in an environment that, wasn’t very monotonous, wasn’t an office with cubicles. They came to an area that was a bit rough and dirty, but also
Nir Hindi: full of colors also like when i visited over there the whole area is an artist studio
Liat Segal: exactly, but also it’s filled with startups, you know, and we worked it. Just open the, well, I don’t know if it’s a good example today, but they just opened the space next to my building and salsa is there, you know, there are tons of places, the toast. Yeah. So that’s, it’s a very natural thing, i think the two combined. For me, it was also like what I was saying, the time missing a bit was this say communication and a shared environment and shared moments with people, that whenever you have so many people working at your space that are like, they’re working a lot as well. You get these moments too. And since I come from tech originally, we also could, actually, know, yeah, know What we were working on together.
Nir Hindi: So. So now, now they just, there is, from what I understood, they expand abroad outside of the country.
Liat Segal: yeah eventually They grew, and they needed a bigger space. Yeah. So
Nir Hindi: are you looking for someone so if someone is listening? .
Liat Segal: I grew as well and I needed a bigger space. So now I use the entire space, but you know, you never know.
Nir Hindi: Okay. So maybe we will publish on our channels in case you’re looking for a startup to Share a studio. Cause you work with technology, and that’s related to my question. We live in time that technology has been used in a malicious way. Technology is like deep, fake artificial intelligence, face recognition, etcetera. I’m wondering what is the role of the artists today when looking at those technologies?
Liat Segal: I think the generally speaking the role of artists is first of all, to ask questions and to raise awareness and to make people think, and that’s a, in any other questions or feels a progression questions. But definitely when we think about the technology and nature and evil technology or malicious and, the other thing that you see more and more today, especially in a tech art, is that when you have artists that are also developers, you also get tools that are open source and not just a conceptual ideas. Yeah. So for example, you have a, Adam Harvey was an artist that is a developer as well, who is dealing with the face recognition and he’s creating tools for digital Camouflage, that prevents facial recognition. And so your first of all is, is work is about creating awareness, but he actually has real tools.
Nir Hindi: also give you solutions.
Liat Segal: I don’t know if they’re very, you know, they’re going to survive a long because the, there are so many more developers that create these kinds of technologies. So it’s a very difficult task, but I think that we’ll see more and more of activists and artists that work in the other direction as well.
Nir Hindi: Yeah. I mean, you know, one of the artists that I saw actually, took this deep fake, and try to challenge the Facebook recog , engine and actually created a deep fake video of Mark. Zuckerberg’s actually kind of in breaking the rules of Facebook, but Facebook, algorithm didn’t recognize it. So, yeah, I mean, I think, I think that this, this raising questions around social and moral maybe issues is something that is crucial. If I go back to your work, I see another connection to the business world where, where there is a need to gain new insights, using data and visualization in one of your work, you collaborate with Salami Shaban, the famous Israeli pianist and singer. You built a large machine, that’s painted over a canvas of a size of three meters by four. The device translated his piano codes into Carlos on the canvas. Suddenly we saw his music not only heard it and personally I loved it. And you will see the video on, on the, our website, but can you explain more about this, this work, how this even collaboration was created?
Liat Segal: Sure. So first of all, it was a collaboration also with this super talented musician, and we wanted to create a new language that is also visual for musicians. And we created this mapping between sound to visual in a way that will be a natural for musicians. So we had a few shows where musicians, including Shalom, were coming and playing. So at first we let them play a bit with this new system to study, this expression, new way of expression, and then every show we had was an improvisation that resulted in a completely different musical, but also visual result. So you could see the musicians were playing, but they were also watching the canvas once, once, while they were playing. Yeah. In order to get something that interest them in both aspects. Generally speaking, I do a lot of work with translation of information of data, into the physical and visual world. And what I try to do is not to be precise, not to create a infographics. For example, I try to do something that lets you also think, and each work is dealing with something else. So the work you mentioned was one of my first works actually. And there, I was asking you a question about who is the creator and what is the creation? So at the time I was dealing with this question a lot and when I was creating a setting that is technological, inviting people, other artists, to put their inputs, and eventually at the time of the performance, I was an observer myself, I had no control whatsoever of what is happening, at this precise moment. So was I the creator of this work? And this question really bothered me at first and I must say that the answer to this question doesn’t yeah, it doesn’t really matter, and that’s why, like what they say today at some point I just let it go out of my system and say, okay, this question was actually actually asked many times in art history as well, like people that deal dealt with technology, but in other conceptual forms,
Nir Hindi: like Marcel Duchamp and the fountain.
Liat Segal: Exactly. And eventually I said, okay, the important thing here was to ask the question and not so much to answer it. And I move to my next questions,
Nir Hindi: which was?
Liat Segal: I dealt a lot with the, questions are about humanity in technological times. So we live in times that eventually change our behavior, but our essential things that bother us or keep keeps our mind or heart busy are things that kept people for thousands of years in very similar ways. So we, I asked questions about intimacy, about communication, the way we can communicate the way we have the attention span to actually hear what other people are saying and the about memories about control, how much we need to be in control versus how much randomness, for example, we allow our work or a personality to be presented as, and I use technology as a means to talk about these questions, but the questions are very old.
Nir Hindi: Yeah. Are you planning more works around the visualization of dancing, like the musical cords?
Liat Segal: So that’s something that falls me since the beginning of my work. And I have two different fields that I usually work in. One is this field of, of transformation of data into the physical world and the other is more about installation, works, but I deal a lot with various kinds of painting machines and, every time again, it’s a tool that helps me convey a message eventually or a question, but definitely each time I use different kinds of information, sometimes it’s information that is realtime information like the sound work,
Nir Hindi: the one that you deal with the boats.
Liat Segal: So the, the one that they did was the bus actually is an example of a, something that wasn’t real time, because the timeframe of boats is very slow in respect to human timeframe. So I took information that was collected six months prior to the exhibition, and it was actually a location based information. It’s the exhibition took place in LA shell in France, it’s the West coast of France, it’s a very old port town and I took it, Information from online sources of all the ships that went through LA shell, this particular geographical point that the show was the showing at, a six months before the exhibition in this data was manifested boasting an installation that showed a fast forward of this, say six months into hours using motion of water inside of glasses. I did that with a tons of magnets that were spread inside the glasses and really strong magnets below the surface that shaked the little magnets and made the more or less the room was a tower that was built 600 years ago. So it was very hard to shake, It had a two meter wide wall, but, but it created the very strong resonance of sounds from these shakes. And eventually it all started with this data of trajectories of sheeps.
Nir Hindi: So, obviously there are many things that they influence you in, and I’m interesting who are the artists that actually influence you the most? So maybe why, why
Liat Segal: I’m I’m inspired and influenced by many artists, both international or local, but I can say without a, a naming specific people, I can say that generally speaking, that the artists that influenced me most are the artists that they, actually know, and have a conversation with, because then, okay, in this ongoing conversation with peers in this case, artists, these are the people that have really strong inputs and influences and literally make shifts in what I do eventually, day to day.
Nir Hindi: Yeah. I mean, you know, often have been people ask me about how they can start, get exposed to art. And I tell them don’t necessarily get exposed to art, get exposed to artists. And I often kind of, drawn into those conversation with, with artists. I want to say, thank you. Big, thank you for coming over today to chat with me about art, about technology, about humanity.
Liat Segal: Thank you. Yeah, it does. My pleasure.
Nir Hindi: Well, I hope we can host you again when we have more show, when you have more shows that we can discuss.So thank you again,
Nir Hindi: We are producing a whole podcast without any ads, and we are relaying on our listeners direct support. So if you find it valuable for you I will be super grateful if you could spread the word by leaving a rating and maybe a review, it will take you just 30 seconds to do so. And It is very helpful in getting these ideas to a wider audience. If you’re interested to work with us or develop your artistic mindset, I will highly recommend you to check out our workshops and trainings all available on our website. This episode was recorded from Google for startups, create studio in Tel Aviv. Check out Google for startups website to learn more about their support for entrepreneurs. The episode was mixed and mastered by Danielle Dwan. You can subscribe to Artian podcast on Spotify, Apple podcast, or wherever you get your podcasts. Our previous shows are available on our website, www.theartian.com/podcast. Each episode includes shownotes, guest recommendations, videos, and other materials. We can also be found on our LinkedIn page, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. You can reach us directly via email at [email protected]. So we’ll be waiting here for you in the next episode with me Nir Hindi.
Once again. Thanks for listening.