Yorgo Alexopoulos Q&A

Oct 27, 2023

Artist studio featuring computers, TV screens and other technology.
Artist studio featuring computers, TV screens and other technology.

Yorgo Alexopoulos Q&A

Best known for immersive video installations, and mixed-media sculptures that fuse paintings, drawings, photographs, and digitally created assets, SAIC alum Yorgo Alexopoulos answers questions about his new work Out of the Sea Came Eternity featured as part of ART on THE MART's 2023 winter program 'Season of Light' that celebrates emerging and established talent coming from School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), a beloved Chicago institution that is internationally regarded as one of the top art and design schools in the world.

Catch Out of the Sea Came Eternity nightly from November 30 until December 30, 2023, at 7.30pm CT. Hear more about the work in the artist's own words here: 

What was your motivation behind your new commission for ART on THE MART, Out of the Sea Came Eternity?
The new piece I've made for ART on THE MART comes at a time that, after working in the space of video installation for fifteen consecutive years, I had never created an outdoor work or one at such a massive scale. I approached the project as both a light installation as well as a film. The opportunity to combine scale, light, movement, and sound inspired me to explore my interest in landscape symbolism given that the piece would be projected onto an enormous man-made building facade while at the same time floating above a body of water. I'm fascinated by mythology and how early humans personified nature to better understand the world around us. Using this theme as a point of departure, the work is activated by juxtaposing abstract geometric shapes with representational landscape imagery. The metanarrative film I've created takes the viewer on a journey through a variety of thematic instances each of which explores a different natural environment or state of existence.

How did you approach the façade of THE MART as your canvas? What did you consider the challenges and/or opportunities?
The approach I took had very much to do with scale. I decided to break down the composition into a grid. This was part of a visual strategy so that I could at certain points in the timeline use all the squares of the grid to create one massive image while at other times isolate certain areas of the composition. At first I thought of the windows as a challenge, so the grid strategy also helped me work around the windows of the facade. Another challenge I immediately noticed when I began was the inability to see any black in the piece. Anything dark would basically disappear to reveal the building itself, so using the grid allowed me to embrace this nuance, and I ended up making it a motif throughout the work.

How did you approach this new digital animation as a traditional painter would?
Given that painting is my primary medium, I use the same approach and sensibility when making work digitally. Unlike many digital creators – and more like a painter – I am making specific choices throughout the course of production, and I do not rely on any computer algorithms or generative processes along the way. It's really a process of creation and destruction. From the moment that I begin I feel that I am trying to fix something that I have started. I fill the composition and then I literally add and remove, create and destroy, until I feel that the work is fixed. Another aspect of my process that echoes a painterly approach is that I pay careful attention to the relationship of the edges throughout the composition.

What do you hope visitors will take away from the work?
I hope a visitor will be visually drawn to the work and that the piece can hold their attention long enough for them to want to keep looking. The work is filled with familiar imagery, but my hope is that within the familiarity they find enough mystery that it might inspire them to think of things larger than the self. I hope that if someone watches the piece multiple times that they see something new each time.

What impact did SAIC have on your career?
At SAIC I started off as a painter and because I was surrounded by great artists and an abundance of facilities I was inspired to experiment. I learned how to make use of a variety of materials and techniques and during my time there I abandoned painting in favor of photography, video, silk screening, animation and I made use of the computer in just about everything I did. I was also challenged to not only think of art making as something that is gratifying to the eye but that art should tease and test the mind. The school inspired my originality and experimentation.

What is the future of digital art?
The future of digital art very much depends on the artist's ability to be original and to stand out. Artists will have to consider whether a work is dependent on a physical apparatus or if the apparatus itself has specificity to the life of a work. Digital art could wind up remaining in a perpetual nascent state.