Throw into a cooking pot containing water a dash of intelligent lighting; a few table spoons of a large variety of colorful fluids; heat or cool the mixture up as your experimental instinct allows and you can achieve a close rendition (or perhaps not!) of Luka Klikovac’s photographic dishes, namely two sets of series: Demersal and AlterActio.
The Serbian fine art photographer has been able to craft astonishingly beautiful works of art by a stroke of pure genius, and surely, without the use of any photo editing software.
Klikovac compares the images from his series to the stains from the renowned psychological test-Rorschach Ink Blot Test that are highly interpretive and wholly open to the spectator’s reading. There is no sense of time or history, nor any implied meaning. It is art that indeed lets your imagination flow.
In an exclusive interview with Emaho Magazine, Sapna Mathur explores the artist’s inspiration that led to these phenomenal works.
Tell us a bit about yourself; what you have been studying at the Faculty of Applied Arts and what events and experiences in your life helped you in formulating your ideas for these mind-blowing series of images.
I have been studying Faculty of the Applied Arts at Belgrade, department of photography and I am about a week away from graduation now. I cannot recall quite surely why I chose photography. It had something to do with my inability to understand time and accept transience. It’s been awhile now, my connection with time and transience is still tense, but I’ve learned to benefit from it. Formulating these ideas was not a simple, plain process. I constantly think about different processes and laws of physics. Moving, falling, colliding objects made of different materials and structure – I like to produce these situations in my head. I often think about wind tunnels and aerodynamics, dynamics of liquids etc. That is how I started experimenting with fluids. In time, I became aware of their possibilities and tried to improve my technique and accomplish all the compositions that appeared in my mind.
Could you expand upon your technique of creating such mesmerizing photographic worlds? How did you enable the fluids to move in various intriguing ways? What is it that you have used – ink or paint, or both? Or more?!
The most important part of both series is – experimenting. There is no recipe for achieving these images – you have to create your own. Any colored fluid dropped in water makes fantastic effect. However I wasn’t satisfied with these; I wanted to go further, to participate more in the whole outcome and create some new, unseen forms. I used anything that I could get my hands on: ink, many kinds of paint (watercolors, wall paints, and textile colors), different chemicals, alcohol, glycerin and many others, with different combinations on different temperatures. Even now, after almost two years, fluids keep surprising me with their movement. The key isn’t in a particular recipe or set of actions, the key is in experimenting and finding new ways.
People have viewed your pictures as profoundly organic; representative of the interiors of a woman’s womb as well as the deep depths of the sea. Although it is important for viewers to relate to your work, every artist has their own way of relating to their work that they would like to project. What is your personal interpretation of these images and how are the titles of both sets contributing to that understanding?
A: A very important aspect of both series is the possibility to let the viewer interpret the images. This experiment offers unlimited possibilities. My role was to explore the phenomena, create and select specific kind of images that represent my nature, my “mind atmosphere” and aesthetics. Not a single photograph in the series is by chance. Final series represent about 1% of taken photos. All of them are selected for a reason. These two series are very different. Although Demersal is the first one, AlterActio seems to be more consistent in my opinion. Set “Demersal” shares its name with one of the deepest ocean zone. This way I connected the series with what I wanted to achieve – Bizarre water creatures, non-existing, but sometimes very similar to the existing ones. This shows how water formations and fluids are important for understanding life. AlterActio is my own word – it should depict alternate reality, synthetic cosmos that functions on its own. It feels good to be creator of such micro-universes, although it lasts for only couple of minutes.
The two series have common elements. Both can be viewed as images of an unknown, otherworldly location – perhaps another planet in outer space or a microscopic record of the workings of the human body. What, according to you, has been the major point of difference between the two series; in the process of creation and the final outcome?
The base of both series, their core, is the same – fluids. As I stated, underwater life and deep-sea creatures inspired Demersal. AlterActio was inspired by the universe, nebulas and other cosmic phenomena. However,the processes were different. During the Demersal series I wanted to achieve organic form not that much connected to its surrounding. These forms were distinguished, on the black background, driving all the attention to them. I often used only those shapes to create atmosphere. AlterActio, on the otherhand, has some features of set design. The focus is on the atmosphere of the whole scene; you can feel the spatiality. Forms are much more complex and mostly not organic. One of the vital inspirations for the series was photograph taken by NASA Hubble telescope named Pillars of Creation. It was the starting point for me and the base for AlterActio, which quickly evolved into vast variety of scenes.
Picture analysis: Tell us about how this particular picture was formed, just as an example of how you worked towards the fabulous collections of and AlterActio.
Although this picture belongs to Demersal, it has some cosmic aspects; semi transparent objects and star-like backgrounds that are seen in AlterActio. The mixture I used for this shot remained on the surface forming this beautiful perfect circle. Thus the remnant of the mixture started its free fall through the water, creating this uncommon mushroom-like form. Hard focused light highlights the object’s shape and plasticity. When you look closely at the reflex of the object on the surface, it almost looks like reflected reality in some semi transparent mirror. All together, this photo is synthesis of organic form and spacious background, which can be put in some transitional phase between Demersal and AlterActio.
After successfully exhibiting both these collections, what is the next project you are working on? Share with us your ideas for the future.
Yes, exhibitions of both series were noticed and I received mostly positive reviews. I’m currently working on two projects – I’m just about to finish my graduation series of photos, and I’m starting a new one. The first one is a tranquil set, exploring graphic forms of the female body with accent on connecting them to certain emotions and states. Second one is called Momentum, it also explores the body – bodily movement to be precise, but in a different way. Shortly, it is focused on potential charge in the moving body, influence of the ambience etc. Analysis of any movement is extremely interesting to me.
That bodily movement interests you can be seen in all of your work. Furthermore, how does “ambience” influence your photographic work?
I had opportunity to shoot both in studio and on a variety of interesting locations. It was very interesting to see how ambience affects figure. First of all, with its space, size and atmosphere, the ambience affects the model. Lighting is also very important because it is one of the most substantial factors. When you shoot in a studio, you have time to setup lights, to carefully review the images during the shooting. All concentration is on the model and lighting. When you shoot in some environment you have to explore the possibilities carefully – you must find meaningful combination that works both for the model and the ambience itself. You have to put them in some kind of correlation – logical or graphical.
I sometimes take photos of the same pose in the studio and on location just to see and examine these differences. You can see here how almost the same pose with slight differences causes completely different final outcome and atmosphere.
Your fight with time and transience! What is the connection between that and your decision to take up photography?
I actually never thought of that thoroughly. I wouldn’t call it a fight; one cannot effectively fight time and transience, and in my opinion isn’t supposed to. I just recognized that photography has something I need. Every photograph that I have taken is a visual connection to a memory and emotion, not just simple reflection of reality. You cannot keep an emotion forever, but it is nice knowing that you have some kind of reminiscence. For me, it is not important how often will I go back and look at those legacies – I just find it calming to have that kind of personal archive of memories. Overtime of course, I expanded my view and use of photography, but this feature still stays. It helps me to preserve myself.
Were you a science student in school or have you simply been so very interested in physics (kinetic and potential energy) and fluid dynamics (inspired by chemistry)?
I went to a high school (gymnasium) where I had both physics and chemistry, but those classes were filled with theory and were very monotonous. However they did leave a trace. My father is a chemical engineer, and he helped a lot in forming my interest for chemistry, and of course gave me some basic knowledge and many tips. I could say that I am some kind of amateur enthusiast for physics and chemistry. I really enjoy thinking and learning about forces and processes that act in our world.
What is your opinion of Emaho’s Art initiative?
I think that any pursuit for creativity is great. Your multimedia, and if I can say so, multi-section approach works very well. It is good to find different kind of interesting information on one place. I hope you will grow, and display many more interesting works.
Looking at this intriguing amalgamation of the precision of science and the restless energy of creativity, we can only conclude that art has no boundaries. While the work upholds the artist’s vision in its representation of the deepest oceanic trenches and the outer reaches of the universe, it is also simultaneously liberating .
Luka Klikovac’s photography is one of a kind; a creative transformation of sorts that arrests the mind. And it does so because it is inherently meaningless, enabling the spectators to delve into their own thoughts. We see what we want to see; there are no impositions. It is a non-authoritative and entirely neutral work of art where to taste the dish is to taste freedom of thought.
Written and Interviewed by – Sapna Mathur
Artwork by: Luka Klikovac