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e-terview: Sonya Rapaport


YOUR NAME: Sonya Rapoport

a. What was your first experience with digital art/new media? How did that experience shape your view of the world? Did it inspire you to change you art/practice?

SR-a. My first experience with digital art/new media was in the 1970's. As a painter who was involved with shape and form, The look, the design and configuration of the characters printed on computer output. captivated me. I became acquainted with their structures from delving into the recycling bins in the math department's basement at Berkeley. Since then, I began to evolve my art practice into utilizing the forms aesthetically. That was just the beginning.

b. What books are you reading now? Are they related to digital art and new media? Are any of those critical books written about new media, digital art, art theory? If so tell us what you like about these books and what you have gained from reading them.

SR-b. Of late, the books I read are not particularly related to digital art and new media. However, I did enjoy perusing the Faculty Exhibition Catalogue of the UCLA Design/Media Arts Department. I am a subscriber to MIT's LEONARDO JOURNAL. But what currently inspires me is content driven beyond the technical.

While reading a review of the biography of philosopher Richard Rorty, THE MAKING of an AMERICAN PHILOSOPHER, by Neil Gross, Rorty's book, PHILOSOPHY and the MIRROR of NATURE, was mentioned. It caught my attention because the last half of its title, MIRROR OF NATURE, is the title of an art piece that I created in 1977 about altering natural phenomenon such as plants and intelligence. I wanted to see if there was a connection between Rorty's book and my artwork.

c. Describe your personal practice. How does you art/practice relate to other works/other people working in your field?

SR-c. To describe in summary, my current project/ personal practice is to refer to Rorty's philosophy about modifying people's sense of who they are, what matters to them, and what is most important. I am personalizing these objectives, investigating my own cosmos via my immune system, metaphorically, and physically.

I don't know how my work relates to others in the field I am not interested. But to name a few names,I have always cherished Bill Seaman's thought systems; Michael Joaquin I regard Grey as a mentor: and CEB Rease's words resonate:
"An open work presents a field of possibilities where the material form as well as the semantic form is open."

d. What do you believe are the most interesting ideas being investigated in your field. Tell us how your personal practice integrates, relates or extends those ideas.

SR-d. Second Life is an exciting idea that is floating around. My personal practice has been about First Life, an interactive dialogue of social concerns. The concerns are usually unlikely entities, dissident or serendipitous that reference current events, cross cultures and scientific topics.

e. What are the most negative aspects of new media? If you could create great change in the field what would you do? How would you like to see new media develop in the near future.?

SR-e. I dislike the brash aesthetics and the aggressive commercial overtones of some of the new media pieces. Re: development: I anticipate experiencing the unexpected. However, I hope the new work will be more integrated into aesthetic and intellectual concepts.

f. In the general discourse of contemporary art as it exists today, what interests you the most? What interests you the least?

SR-f. Commercial games elude me. I find that spectacular theatrical environments belong in a different realm. I do enjoy following the art tactics of Damien Hurst and Jeff Koons -much more so than, say, Gerhard Richter.

g. If you could alter the course of ideas and practices in contemporary art what would you do. For example would you create virtual archives? Would you set up a lottery system to fund artists? Would you start working with sociologists to expand your practice etc..

SR-g. What would interest me the most is bridging the traditional with digital (technological). Unfortunately, these twains don't seem to be meeting but are further distancing themselves from each other.

h. Do you have a question you'd like to ask yourself? Do you have a question you'd like to ask other people for a future e-terview?

SR-h. Always