We sat down with Lightbox Lab artist, Julia Sinelnikova, who’s recognized for her unique hand-cut light sculptures, to discuss her creative process and more.
So you work with holograms, performance and digital culture. Where do your ideas come from, how do you create?
My work explores intersections between nature, technology and spirituality. I was influenced by occult folklore as a child in Russia, and today use archetypes pulled from this to engage with my immersive environmental works, as with my character, “The Oracle.” Visual imagery which leads my mind includes foliage and the cell structures of plants, mandalas and shapes found through meditation. Building my sculptures, and the performances which activate them, is a spiritual ritual aimed at drawing audiences into a state of self-awareness.
When I begin a project, I make drawings of how I want it to appear from numerous angles, and write about it in my notebook for several weeks. Sometimes the image of the final work hits me right away, whereas other times I am inspired by a material, and the work grows more organically – a modular form. My installations are site specific, so when I see a space, my mind does math to determine the objects and light beams to be arranged.
What comes first the art or the technology?
All the technology you need lies in your mind and hands.
If not an artist, then what would you be?
I was enrolled in extracurricular art classes as early as the second grade, and friends say they could not imagine me doing anything else. I agree. However, it took me years of working in the art world to realize I needed to focus on producing my vision full time. I considered going to college for sociology, english or computer science early on, and worked on an environmental campaign for a year in Texas after graduating high school a year early. In NYC I worked at various organizations such as Christie’s, Brooklyn Museum and output until I finally went freelance, and put the production skills I had learned to use by running my own studio.
If you could have dinner with anyone (dead or alive) who would it be and why?
That’s a tough question, but it would be M.I.A. She has done incredible work using the global pop culture platform to speak articulately about humanitarian issues, which is so rare in the mainstream creative landscape. I remember seeing her photo and a brief write up introducing her on the last page of The New Yorker way back when, and next thing she was touring worldwide. I just admire her and think we would get along.
Lightbox was a great space to collaborate for producing my new-media based work. The work requires a hanging sculptural installation, and the space was ready for rigging, complete with ladders and adjustable lighting. I also needed several projectors to map, which the space has many of. We planned a one night opening event this past fall with two other participating artist groups, and the location was great for our guests because it is right next to Times Square, NYC.