Interview With Marc Gumpinger, Artist | Welcome To The Future
THE 3D-LOVE STORY OF THE CENTURY: HUMANITY MEETS SPACE
Marc Gumpinger is the Artist of the Moment who will transcend his craft well into the Future by connecting the emotionally charged dots of the human soul with a scientifically enhanced laser-cut alike art technique that is both hypnotizing and besotting. Current and relevant, his art is the entrancing result of mixing the oxymoronic elements of human existence by bridging two worlds: tradition and digital innovation on the brink of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. His art is thought-provoking forcing us to surpass the limitations of our comfort zone, stimulating our imagination, inspiring us to see beyond the Unseen and tap into a territory where fantasies and dreams are perfectly aligned with the latest discoveries in technology.
A true high-tech, modern Renaissance Man and a triple threat, Marc holds a PhD in Human Biology, is a highly regarded technology entrepreneur and an artist of Leonardo DaVinci’s caliber: quite obviously not too often do we witness the poetry of art blending with science at the level of a master piece. Interviewing him is witnessing the most enticing combination of high intelligence, erudition, larger than life vision and sensibility and kindness beyond measure. His solo exhibit at HG Contemporary simply titled Space is utterly riveting. For the occasion, the ever imaginative and ground breaking gallerist Philippe Hoerle-Guggenheim had the walls painted in charcoal grey facilitating the impression that we are embarking on a trip to Space, into the Labyrinth where darkness is counterbalanced by the subdued light reflections of a highly inviting artwork who engages us to reflect, understand the power of Now and search for the best version of ourselves.
Knowledge seen as a spiral allowing us to get to the same point yet higher each time, in conjunction with thirst for discovery, both symbolized by the recurrent element in Marc’s art which is the Light, seem to act as an antidote to the idea that we are alone in this Universe. The mystical meaning of the Light can be perceived as God, a higher self or type of energy that becomes the Partner, the +1. The intriguing element and wow-factor of Marc’s art is the educational element and the substance he adds to the beauty of contemporary art. Due to his contribution, art will no longer be perceived just as an aesthetic component of life or investment, rather as an inspiring and motivating partner, educating the consumer to understand art not only as an object of desire and joy, even more so as inspiration and opportunity to evolve and increase our human potential.
The mesmerizing oil paintings and the skilfully executed installation enhance the feeling that the Space has a soul on its own, making us fall in love with the main character: the otherworldly, gender-neutral astronaut. The Space man may seem lonely suspended in the air yet he is not: for in his hand he carries the Master Light guiding him perhaps towards introspection and enlightenment, out of the Labyrinth into a refulgent territory, towards a space where after a grueling process of continuous growth and transformation some best kept secrets may unveil to humanity in their whole splendor.
- Welcome to NYC and thank you for humanizing Space and making us fall in love with it in a way that we have not experienced it before! Did you intentionally create a symbiotic relationship between Humanity and Space, or it was rather an organic result of your creative vision?
I was thinking about how to best visualize the stark contrast between deep technology on the one hand and our emotions and higher values on the other hand. This is a highly relevant topic to me these days given the Renaissance of technology we’re facing in times of everyone being constantly connected via smartphones, the new rise of artificial intelligence, machine learning and algorithms in general.
My current series of works called Space reflects on exactly this topic: we are living a highly technological life that is represented in my painting by the astronaut. And still there is something higher and beyond technology that drives us. Be it higher values, God or something of this caliber. I spent some twenty years in deep tech and science and fully believe in its advantages. But at the same time I’m fully subscribed to the notion of something mystically higher, as represented by the light.
- Your level of emotional intelligence is astonishing! You seem to easily tap into the human soul in a form of a cognitive process that touches way beyond the surface, and are in a very unique position where mastering digital technology allows you to blend tradition and innovation: oil painting and 3D softwares and associated algorithms. Who takes control in the creative process: the creativity or the logic?
In fact, both these aspects are key. I do the creative work in the beginning by designing the virtual worlds in 3D and visual effects softwares. Software and its logic then renders the image. And ultimately, I paint the painting very traditionally with oil and brushes on canvas just like painters have been doing it for the past 500 years. I think technology is great tool. Computers and software are great at repeatedly applying the same set of rules over and over again. Like virtually shooting rays of light at a 3D scene and tracing them while bounce off of polygonal surfaces. And you could argue that a human being is just that: a very complex system that works according to predefined rules. However, I believe that if you were able to rebuild that human system something highly important would be missing: our soul. And to me, creativity is one of the key essences of these logical rules and the soul. It’s one of the things we, humans, are so much better at than algorithms. And that’s also why I evolved from high tech entrepreneur to high tech artist: because I see so many things that just haven’t been done in contemporary art, yet.
- You mentioned that technology was always at the ‘core of creating art’ going back to Renaissance. Could you elaborate?
Artists traditionally had to be efficient. Everything around them was scarce: money, pigments, time etc. They had to use contemporary technology to increase efficiency. The whole concept of layer painting was developed less for creative purposes but to split up the painting process into separate tasks that can be assigned to various people in the artists’ studio. That’s pure division of labor way before the times of Henry Ford.
Another example is the use of optical lenses already in the early Renaissance in order to project the motive onto the canvas. Look at The Arnolfini Portrait, for example. In his book “Secret Knowledge” David Hockney found out that the perspective of the chandelier is different from that of the floor. It is likely that this points back to Jan van Eyck using lenses to project the individual items. Obviously, the lenses back then war far inferior to the lenses we know and light was much weaker so artists were only able to project individual parts instead of the whole image.
Or take the invention (or rather the discovery) of the linear perspective in the days of the Renaissance. Not only did it and the use of lenses make drawings and paintings look more naturalistic. It also meant shifting away from the medieval notion of visually communicating Christian messages to the notion of trying to depict reality. That was a massive philosophical transition from a Platonian understanding to an Aristotelian which in turn was the foundation of the age of the Enlightenment and our modern scientific society.
While many reasons sparked the Renaissance, technology was certainly one of them. And to be honest I see it such a huge opportunity in my oeuvre that only very few artists walk that path.
- Einstein said that the moment where technology will rule the world we will be a generation of idiots. Living in a digitally driven world we certainly get alienated on a personal level. How shall we balance the gain and the deficit?
One of our most human attributes is creativity. That’s what we have to focus on. Every repetitive task will be overtaken by technology sooner or later. Just because technology is so much better at it. Creativity is where humans stand out by far. Search for videos about robot challenges where their task is to walk through a ruin. While they can perform trillions of calculations per second most of them already fail stepping through the door. That’s because they fail to be creative about solving problems.
- Engineers, industrial designers and architects are mixing several elements like computational design and synthetic biology in order to generate a symbiosis between the cells in our bodies and the the products we use in our daily life. Is humanity moving too fast? Are we in danger of being able to destroy the world with a click of a mouse?
I think mankind has evolved at a rather constant speed. It’s just the type of scale you apply. And certainly, we’re talking about an exponential scale here. I suggest everyone better strives to best keep up with it in order to evaluate the risk reward ratio. Because after all every risk implies just as big a chance as well. It’s up to us and our higher values we believe in to do the right thing. The only thing that doesn’t work is to stop mankind from evolving.
- The light is a recurrent element in your artwork. Does the light represent a symbol of knowledge, searching for a higher self? Can the light be perceived as a partner towards achieving enlightenment through research?
The light in my Space series stands for the mystical higher value. It can be God, beliefs, emotions. Just about anything that you have a hard time describing technically. It’s what goes beyond technology. And in the classical sense of a Meister Eckhart or a Saint Thomas Aquinas I see the light as the mystical connection to something higher above us that some call God. It is an understanding that is deeply engraved various religions. I like this notions because of its universality.
- Independent of our beliefs, the collectors and admirers of your art, what do you perceive the message of your art to be? Is your art political?
I don’t think my art is political at all. But ultimately it is what people see in it and by that way a reflection of their thoughts. I just try to provide works that spark these thoughts and reflections. And in our times of inflationary availability of images I do so by providing unseen aesthetics and crafting them with a lot of effort in a figurative and naturalistic way.
- When I first saw my favorite Space Man installation suspended from the ceiling, I perceived him to be quite lonely and vulnerable up there. Will it ever be a woman cosmonaut in your future exhibits?
Actually, I prefer to call the motive an astronaut or cosmonaut because it depicts both women and men. And beyond that it even is agnostic to ethnical background. We’re living in such a globalized world that I think higher values and technological tools that help us advance mankind or so much more important.
- The genius Romanian poet Eminescu, wrote a revolutionary, scientifically charged poem in 1883 titled The Star, reminiscent of your art. The star tells the woman he is in love with: it would take you thousand years to get to me because you do not master the speed of light. Do you perceive the relationship between Earth and Space to become the love story of the century? Will space become a well known territory to us?
In my works space is rather a notion rather than an actual place. That notion says that the astronaut already travelled beyond the visibility of stars into the deepest dark to strive for the higher and still they can’t reach the light. It’s the old question of whether Sisyphus was a lucky man or not. I believe that the act of striving for something higher is a process instead of a state. And it’s that process that keeps us alive. In other words: it’s the notions of staying hungry.
And as long as that journey takes I believe that it results in loving our planet. We might take trips to Mars. But it is such an incredibly lucky accident that the universe has generated this planet Earth we live on and allowed us to adapt to it so very well. It would take such an incredible effort to adapt to another place that the effort to keep our planet in shape seems so tiny in comparison.
- Many years ago I discussed with D. Prunariu, the very first Romanian cosmonaut who flew to space the possibility of preserving our youth while residing in space for a while. He mentioned that for this to happen, us humans would have to fly there with the speed of light which is humanly utterly impossible. How far are we in our research from reaching it? Will it ever be attainable?
This is a good example of weighing in efforts. Preserving youth by trying to move a human body with something close to the speed of light is so much higher than just staying hungry. I believe staying hungry along with the right partner, the right food, enough steps per day, a good sun blocker, no alcohol, no substances is so much more effective to staying young. And you can do it now!
- What is your personal take on Space? Do you believe that at some point humans will be able to reside there?
It might be thrilling to take a couple of days off in space. But think of the most inhospitable place on earth, that is still so much friendlier than space.
- Do you consider yourself a futurist? How would you define your art?
Actually, my art and I am just utterly contemporary. But that’s what the Italian Futurists were as well back in the days.
- Who are the artists you admire the most and to what extent did they influence your approach and technique?
I am more interested in the epochs rather than individual artists. In that regard I am very fascinated by the Renaissance, the early Baroque, Romanticism and Surrealism.
- If we could walk away with one message only from your exhibit, what would that be?
Technology is here to stay. Let’s embrace it both in our lives as well as in contemporary art and at the same time stay on top of it by using our soul to strive for the higher.
Photography by Kristen Chilstrom