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Self-exploration in Constantly Changing Environment – Interview with Nandita Kumar

Mauritius-born New Zealandian-Indian artist Nandita Kumar is all over the place – in a good way. She is on a quest to find connections between art, science and technology through her own art as well as community projects to shift consciousness of people – in her own words. I met Nandita at the exhibition opening of ARS17 in Kiasma, Helsinki. A glass bulb with a small technological world inside it – that’s what I saw. It reminded me of one of these self-sustained ecosystems in a bottle. Nandita’s ecosystem is an artificial one. It consists of very carefully manufactured detailed metal made plants. This is what she says about it:

pOLymORpHic hUMansCApE is an interactive biosphere in a bottle which explores two days in an urban landscape. This installation wishes to evoke discussions on the problems faced by Indian Cities due to urbanization, high population growth and development of slums. Read more at nanditakumar.com…

In this interview we discuss Nandita’s story and how her artistic identity formed in an ever-changing environment: she was born in Mauritius, grown up in India and moved to New Zealand at the age of 19 where she still works part time – and part time in Mumbai. See below the full line-up indexed with time stamps and stream the interview here:

Download mp3 from here

Line up (add 3 min of the intro to the times):

00:00 A little about you. Master’s degree in CalArt in experimental animation.
Non-narrative… Making animation is like playing god. No rules.

2:30 In order to keep myself stimulated I need to jump between projects.
Each art work grows out of a different art work.

3:15 Animated electronics

3:55 Drawing and art as self-exploration. What is the line between line for oneself vs.
art which you want to show to others?

5:10 Movig from India to New Zealand, influence of the change in the environment on you.
– Brain fly.
– Is explorative art like meditation?
– Non-verbal communication.
– Recording stream of consciousness.

7:00 Born in Africa in Mauritius. Father worked with submarines. Moved to India at the age of four, then to India at the age of 19. Beef organic upper Austria. Angewande kunst.

11:50 Can we compare the brain fly to Kafka’s cocroach? Embodiment. Spirituality and science in art.
Recording the shift of consciousness

19:00 Pieces that are now exhibited in Kiasma: connection between art, nature and technology.

29:30 What if you do not have motivation or curiosity? What do you do then?
– Part of the identity is bound to the creation?
– Keep the practice! Keep reading. Community art projects.
– Collaboration brings me back to my own work from a new angle.

31:30 What do you prefer: to work alone or with others?

32:30 Who inspires you the most?
– Frank Hubert: Dune
– Ryoji Ikeda
– Learn by putting yourself in different spaces

40:00 Morning routines?
– Going to my own spaces,
– Watching birds.
– Staring into the nature. Yoga, meditation.

42:00 Working routines.
– To think I need to be alone
– Research in New Zealand, creative work in India.
– Living project by project.

44:40 Do you ever isolate yourself to do work alone?

46:30 Best parts of being an artist?
– Navigate your own time,
– Interesting people,
– Not stuck in an office,

48:00 What would tell your 20-year-old self?
– Live a more balanced life.
– Keep playing, being curious, observe, listen.

50:00 What is success? Cultural differences between Finland and India.




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How to aim for the top and other secrets for success in science: an interview with Professor Emeritus Erkki Oja


Stream it from here:

Download mp3 from here.

In this episode I have the honour of introducing you to one of the giants of unsupervised machine learning and more generally of mathematics applied to statistical algorithms, Professor Emeritus Erkki Oja. I met Erkki met an artificial intelligence meetup in Helsinki Read more

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How Does Music Influence Brain? Interview with Cognitive Scientist of Music Perception Mari Tervaniemi

Mari and I in Minerva Building

Does playing music to a not-yet-born child in the womb have a positive effect on the brain’s development? Yes, says Mari Tervaniemi, a brain research scientist who was one of the pioneers in the cognitive science of music perception when the field started in the 1980’s. She is still working in that area. On the other hand music can also help to treat dementia and Parkinson’s disease. The  youngest (born) participants in a Mari Tervaniemi’s experiment was 2 days old and the oldest were in their 90’s.

Stream if from here:

Currently Mari is working projects which you can find here: Read more

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Art vs. Mathematics and How to Get Something from Nothing: An interview with Markus Rissanen

I wrote previously about Markus Rissanen when I still didn’t know him personally. Markus is a professional artist who has been fascinated by tilings and their mathematical properties such as symmetries and regularities ever since he was very young. As explained in my previous post, Markus eventually solved the problem of generalising some quasiperiodic properties of Penrose tilings from 5-fold symmetry to n-fold symmetry for any positive integer n. In this interview we briefly touch the subject of tilings. Then we talk about the difference between mathematical work, artistic work and the work of writing a PhD thesis in which Markus was engaged for the past four years. I got to ask him a question that has been bothering me for a long time: Why don’t artists, especially painters do joint work? At least significantly less frequently than, say, mathematicians, who are traditionally considered to be “lonely workers” (not the case! See my interview with Olli Martio). Another important topic we touch upon is what to do when you do not have inspiration? Here is part of Markus’ answer:

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How to Turn 5 Seconds a Year into Unlimited Source of Motivation: An interview with Professor Emeritus Olli Martio

Olli Martio and Vadim Kulikov

Olli Martio (right), me (left).

For no less than 25 years out of his career, Olli Martio (born 1941) was a chair of one of the mathematics departments in Finland: at the universities of Jyväskylä and Helsinki. He retired seven years ago, but he hasn’t stopped working nor making ground breaking progress in mathematics. For the last six years he was employed by the Academy of Finland. In 1964, when he was still a graduate student, he had a side job programming one of the first IBM computers in Europe. I was rather surprised to hear what was the main purpose of these machines at the time: printing lots of data on paper. Well, at the time paper was the main medium for data storage after all.

For me the main take-aways of this interview include:

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Ewa and Vadim at Jeff Koons exhibition London
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Art as sanity coping and how to follow your passion: An interview with Ewa Wilczynski

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View on YouTube

View on YouTube

My parents wanted me to be a dentist

In this episode I interview Ewa Wilczynski.  Read more

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Understanding Abstract Thinking: An Interview with Rafael Núñez

Rafael & Vadim in Chile

Rafael & Vadim in Chile

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View on YouTube

View on YouTube

 In 2009 I ordered the book “Where Mathematics Comes From: How The Embodied Mind Brings Mathematics Into Being.

This was my first encounter with Rafael — in the form of reading this book by him and Lakoff. The book was also my first encounter with cognitive science of mathematics which has now become one of my main scientific interests. In particular I learned about number subitizing which is the ability of very young children (in some experiments as young as two days after birth) which is shared by most mammals to distinguish small quantities from each other: two spots from three spots or even two sounds from three spots making the numerocity really the essential factor. I was fascinated by the science of mathematical cognition.

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How to be the Artist You Want: An Interview with Bella Volen

Bella and I in her studio in Vienna.

Bella and I in her studio in Vienna.

Stream it from here:

Download the mp3 file by right-clicking here.

Bella Volen is a Bulgarian born artist based in Vienna, Austria. She creates amazing art installations through painting on virtually everything: canvas, humans, balloons, guitars, walls, … the list is endless. Here are some of my favourites:

For more of Bella’s art, recent news and all you want to know, visit www.bella-volen.com, www.bodypainting-event.com and www.artgallery-vienna.com.

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