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Discovering the wonders of the microscopic world through 'Cosmodernism'

Polish artist Kamil Czapiga discusses his artistic chemical explorations with STIR.

by Manu SharmaPublished on : Aug 05, 2023

Kamil Czapiga, better known for his art project Cosmodernism, is an artist from Poland, who gives his audience a peek into the magic that unfolds under his microscope. His work is rapidly gaining popularity across the internet, and it is no surprise why: Czapiga’s photos and video art of chemicals and solid matter reacting to sound, wind, light and each other are delightfully hypnotic, and reveal a world seemingly superimposed over our own, but hidden just out of sight. In an interview with STIR, he explains that his project seeks to instill a sense of curiosity within audiences and to remind them that the natural world we occupy is far more intriguing and beautiful than it may seem at first when viewed by the naked eye. Czapiga says, "Nature hides many stunning and totally freaky secrets, and with the right apparatus, we can get a little peek into it. And, through commercial technology, this is no longer limited to laboratories, which were historically inaccessible to non-scientists.”

Microloop #58, 2023 Video: Courtesy of Kamil Czapiga

The interdisciplinary artist sees himself as an everyman that seeks delight in the minutiae of the world; as one finding beauty within both, the basic and complex chemical reactions that govern movements and transformations within matter. Czapiga expands on his engagement with his craft, telling STIR, “It has had a therapeutic and healing effect on me, and I believe that looking at the world in this way can also bring a sense of satisfaction to others. Seeing light reflected inside a drop of oil can be an amazing experience, and I know firsthand that this way of looking around us will later translate into a shift in our perception of the world on a macro scale as well.” He identifies curiosity, fun, and the joy of discovering satisfying structures as the most important elements of his artistic enquiry. The artist’s usual toolkit to carry out these experimentative forays includes a microscope or a camera with a macro lens, along with various liquids such as paints, oils, and chemicals. Czapiga says, “Sometimes, I also use solids or crystalline substances, which when properly prepared, can turn into beautiful rainbow structures, not of this world.” On the other hand, he has also limited himself to simple water in the past, within which he has revealed fascinating kaleidoscopic patterns through motion provoked by sound, wind, and other means of generating vibrations.

Microloop #62, 2023 Video: Courtesy of Kamil Czapiga

Among all the materials he has worked with in his new media art, Czapiga has a particularly strong relationship with ferrofluids. He discusses this, telling STIR, "I think it is, without a doubt, my spirit-chemical. Ferrofluids are magnetic liquids developed in 1963 in NASA laboratories that, when properly combined with magnetic fields and other liquids, create amazing magnetic mazes called Turing patterns. Sometimes, the result can even look like a living organism!" The artist is constantly trying to create novel environmental conditions to enable greater manipulation of these fascinating liquids, and over time has incorporated mechanisms such as motors, lighting systems, aquariums, and filters within his work.

Microloop #66, 2023 Video: Courtesy of Kamil Czapiga

Discussing his artistic influences, Czapiga tells STIR, "If I had to choose one artist whose way of seeing the world has impacted me the most, I think it would have to be Olafur Eliasson. His work has directly influenced my passion for light and optical experiments, and consequently for working with lenses, which, after all, are the heart of the microscope.” Apart from highly acclaimed practitioners, Czapiga, who used to work with other mediums and was also an illustrator and a tattoo artist, also keeps a keen eye out for talent found online and often spends time perusing social media platforms in order to engage with the works of other offbeat creatives such as himself.

Czapiga’s studio, 2023 | Kamil Czapiga | Cosmodernism | STIRworld
Czapiga’s studio, 2023 Image: Courtesy of Kamil Czapiga

In addition to the artist’s snapshots and recordings of the chemical reactions that he provokes, there is another equally critical aspect of his total creative expression, which is the sound that he uses in his videos. Czapiga, a new media artist of a particularly bold sort, tells STIR that for more than two years, he has been pursuing sonic experimentation parallelly to his visual work, and that the resulting audio pieces have come to play a crucial role in the Cosmodernism project. He says, "It turns out that sound design and music composition is as appealing and limitless to me as my chemical explorations, and I have devoted a great portion of my free time to learning how to create sounds and manipulate them.” As of writing this article, Czapiga cannot imagine the project without this essential sonic layer. While the artist continues to develop his audiovisual art on both fronts, he does so secure in the knowledge that there are endless possibilities through which to further articulate his creative expression, and that there are few, if any walls, that he is likely to hit anytime soon. While he has not as yet exhibited Cosmodernism formally, Czapiga is looking forward to his participation at the Rubix Festival in Montenegro at the end of July 2023, which will be in the capacity of a solo exhibitor.

Portrait photograph of  Kamil Czapiga, 2023 | Kamil Czapiga | Cosmodernism | STIRworld
Portrait of Kamil Czapiga, 2023 Image: Courtesy of Kamil Czapiga

Czapiga has no formal scientific background, but perhaps that is for the best: his curiosity runs free, unfettered by any sort of dogma, which one imagines must be quite liberating. After all, in order to faithfully represent the beauty hidden in the minutiae of our world, the artist must first and foremost believe in the value of his experimentation. He looks back to his childhood, telling STIR “At school, I had perpetual problems in chemistry and physics classes, and there is little else save for my constant curiosity and thirst for exploration and creative expression that has pushed me into the areas that I am currently involved in.” This is a sentiment echoed by many who pursue artistic practices that contain elements one would ordinarily confine to the realm of scientific enquiry, and it is because of practitioners such as Czapiga that these two worlds have come to overlap. For his part, the artist remains delighted and overwhelmed at the intricate complexity of nature, so much so that he suggests equating the laws of physics with “natural magic.” In his words, “I think this is my main creative drive and the source of my inspiration.”

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