Metronom: Hannah Neckel is the fourth artist invited to participate in Digital Deviations, the 2021 edition of the Digital Video Wall project. What is your Digital Deviation? Can you tell us about the process behind “Auratic Sentiency”, the video work now screening on Metronom’s video wall? What is an auratic sentiency?
Hannah Neckel: In my work, I merge URL and IRL realities to bring out the most utopian qualities in both. For Metronom’s video wall I created a fusion of those realities by incorporating 3d scans, 3d animated objects and online found footage to invoke a dreamy mood in the viewers and get them into the mindset of flowing over into the utopian future I’m trying to create. My practice is always translating on & offline and playing strongly with emotions. Through our emotions we experience our reality, so they are the vessel I want to connect to the viewers with. The mood conveyed in the works is the decisive factor, which is hard to put into words. Words are never enough to describe what we are feeling, so the aura of the work, the emotional response, and the overall mood are most significant.
M: You describe your works as XXXperiences: how do you live the balance between reality and virtuality in a time of constant progress of technology?
HN: The spaces I create in my work aim to seduce the viewers into a certain mood. It is not just a sculpture, a video, or an installation, the essential part of it is the emotions in the recipients.
Emotions are the vessel through which we experience the world and by offering people a safe space to experience those emotions. Seduction is a powerful tool to grab attention and make people interact, and enjoy their experiences.
For me, the interchange between online and offline is fully integrated with my life. I am constantly online and also sharing a lot of my process, private life, research, notes, etc.. through many different platforms. I keep all my notes public on my website, I post videos of when I’m working, rendering, or making sculptures, because I’ve learned so much from following other artists online, and them being open with their research, influences, and even small things like which software they’re using for what. Community is extremely important to me and I try to strengthen it by sharing my skills on & offline.
M: Can you tell us about your creative process and how your works come into being?
HN: All my work is based on a large body of theoretical research which I’ve been working on for years now, based on postmodern philosophers like Baudrillard and contemporary media philosophers like Mark Fisher. Both of them, for example, meditate on the interplay between media and capitalism but offer quite a bleak dystopian vision for the future which in turn I want to break within my work. It is necessary for us to collectively be able to envision and dream of a future again. Only with a vision that gives us this confidence, this can actually happen. With my work, I want to encourage people to overcome the hopelessness of our current times.
I’ve then looked at where in life I see the potential for this future and drawing from my experience, the internet has (still) a great potential to help us onset this change. The democratizing, freeing and connecting powers it offers shaped my practice greatly. By translating between online and offline worlds, the connection can be reinforced. Since a big part of my life is spent online, I curate a huge archive of online found footage and original online work such as gifs, 3d scans, 3d animations, pictures, sounds, and so on. These are usually the starting point for any new work, I believe that repetition and reappropriation but also exchange is extremely important for this process. I use a lot of media created by other people, but in turn, I upload all of my resources for other people to use. (For example, I have a sticker gif collection which is a mix of original and found work, which is available on Instagram, and I see other artists using them for their work, or on their stories.) When I create new works, I like to work quite site-specific and aim to do the most with space, generating a full xxxperience. I’m utilizing a variety of different signifiers and elements which all rely on strong cultural contexts to invoke certain emotions. Bright pink light, which immediately changes the mood in a space, internet references brought into the physical space to remind of the utopian qualities. Most of the elements are references to online life, such as in my recent sculptural practice, I use a lot of heart shapes, channeling the emotions and touching upon internet aesthetics. I combine many layers of the different states of reality, the whole process is very on&offline based. For example, I model my concepts in 3d, then I make a physical sculpture, then I 3d scan the sculpture to use in future videos, lastly, I use the videos for installations. So the translation is not only theoretical but very much based on my praxis.
M: “Freedom” is a word that you use quite often, both in describing your works and the online context as well. What’s the freedom you experience and how is it linked to the word ‘connection’ in your practice?
HN: I grew up online since I was like 10 years old. I’ve always found the net to be a place where I can create a safe space for myself and find a like-minded community which to this day is inspiring me greatly. Through curating your world online you can experience and express yourself freely in connection to others. I love the decentralized aspect, where I grew up in a small town, there weren’t many people I could relate to, but online I was able to find cool artists, music, styles from all over the world. To me, the community is the ultimate form of freedom, connecting with people and inspiring each other.
Online we get to experience this utopian form of freedom, breaking with the boundaries of the world; borders, social restrictions, distances, expression. We are enabled to free ourselves by creating our own world and making a safe space to experience and express ourselves in connection to others.
M: You claim to have a special relationship with your smartphone: what is your relationship with the internet’s shadowed environment?
HN: A smartphone is a tool like any other, and if you use it right it can be a great advantage to your life. I think we have a responsibility to make the most of it and curate our own world online to make it work in our favor. On one hand, my phone feels like an extension of my body to me, it is completely natural to me to always have it on me and use it as an outsourced part of my brain. I feel for my phone, take care of it and also dream about it frequently. To me, it is a portal to a different state of reality that can only be accessed through this gateway. I hope for a future where the internet is freed from this physical restriction and we can integrate the internet more seamlessly into our lives and hopefully bodies as well.
M: You are currently a student of transmedia art at The University of Applied Arts in Vienna. How does your education path inform your practice? What are the cultural and artistic references that leave a particular mark on your art?
HN: My class is very diverse, there are artists of different disciplines and the praxis is always overlapping. The exchange is super important to me, to discuss my work with people coming from digital art, or performance or sculpture. I am always looking to bring new aspects into my concepts and merge them with different artistic expressions.
The university as a whole is a great place to exchange but also to find a community and people working in similar disciplines or with similar concepts. I love to find those connections and inspire and help each other. In the past months I have collaborated on a few projects with a colleague at the university, which was also a very interesting experience for me: my partner for the project, https://www.instagram.com/chosepha/, comes from a very theoretical and super knowledgeable background of art history. I come from a more intuitive emotional approach and we combined our practices in our installation “beachbabybaker3000” which was exhibited in Vienna last April and I feel like this brought out our strengths and combined them in a fresh way.
Recently we had a fun coincidence: I was always chilling in my university yard and I met some other students there who happened to work on exactly the same things as me at the moment, https://www.instagram.com/nichtfalsch/.We were both working sculpturally, thematically and aesthetically similar and even material choices were the same. This was so funny to us, that we decided we have to exhibit together, so we got a curator who is familiar with internet and digital concepts and it turned out to be one of my favorite shows. I love those coincidences, where the same topics are being dealt with, completely decentralized. And this speaks to what is currently happening on a bigger scale through the internet, where we can see so many different super cool artists working similarly all over the world. This creates such a special sense of community and puts all of the works in a global context. https://www.instagram.com/r00m69/
M: What are your next projects and collaborations?
HN: big things cominggggggggggggggg ;P
Hannah Neckel is an intermedia artist, based on the internet as voidgirl69, studying transmedia art at the University of Applied Arts Vienna.
Her multimedia XXXperiences seduce you into a dreamy hyper space in which the internet and the physical world merge. The internet as a utopian place of longing serves as the starting point for the desire for freedom, which manifests itself in the works and is generated in an interlude of online and offline footage. The internet aesthetic spills into reality as if from a glass that overflows and overlaps and merges like the layers of a Photoshop file.