by Manu SharmaAug 18, 2021
Mark Serdtse, better known as Miruka Ze, is a digital artist whose work treads many motifs, yet is wholly impossible to pin down accurately. His art is a blend of colours and forms, coming together to create what feels like snippets of legibility that are soon to dissipate into ether. Being largely self-taught, Serdtse is among a growing number of artists who achieve stunning results without directly passing through the academy. He tells STIR, “I can't say that I have any significant education in the field of art. I studied graphic design in college. It was nice, but far too superficial for me. Besides, it was about 20 years ago, so it would not be much of an exaggeration to say that I built my art knowledge up myself.” The artist worked hard to develop his skills, all the way up to a point that has allowed him to build and maintain a thriving career in the field of computer graphics and contemporary art. He continues, explaining that he pursued his artistic passions during the evenings he got away from his work, and that he gained his knowledge from books, the internet, and selective online courses. Today, he is an employee of Intel, where he works on volumetric video technology and generates synthetic data for artificial intelligence in cars. He regards his work as not terribly exciting in terms of its scope for creative self-expression, but mentions that he nonetheless finds it rewarding, as it allows him to direct his intellectual potential towards something that could make the world safer.
Serdtse has had a fascinating journey through life, which he sees as indistinguishable from his creative journey. Discussing this, he starts with a laugh and says to “pour some tea”, because it’s a lengthy and fascinating tale. He begins in earnest, saying “there is an island between Japan and mainland Russia. In Russia, it is called Sakhalin, and in Japan, it is called Karafuto. The local nationality of this island is called Ainu. My grandmother was one of them. Half of this island was part of Japan until the end of World War II. My mother was born in this half, in a small Japanese village on the shore.” Although Serdtse himself was born in Eastern Siberia, his mother’s Asian roots informed some of his early upbringing. This would continue through to the end of his time spent in the Khakassia Republic, where he would live until the age of 16. Throughout his childhood, Serdtse would have the unique opportunity to witness the construction of one of the world’s largest hydraulic structures, which sits in a huge mountain gorge on the Yenisei River, as he lived in the hydro-builders’ village. In his free time, the artist would draw posters dedicated to the victory of the Soviet Union, and would go for long walks in the nearby woods which were full of petroglyphs and steles, typical of those created by the ancient Okunev peoples. Here, he encountered imagery of anthropomorphic masks, bizarre and fantastic animals and humans with birds’ heads. These reveal themselves as formative elements within his work today.
Returning to his creative journey, Serdtse continues, “After the Soviet Union collapsed, my life significantly changed because computer games, foreign cinema, literature, and art came to my town. David Lynch's Dune, Alien, Cronenberg's movies, Carlos Castaneda's books, and works of Buddhist philosophers: I swallowed it all. By this time, I had moved to the far north of Siberia; further beyond the Arctic Circle.” He loved living in that environment and immersed himself in the creative and shamanic practices of the locals while working a gruelling job as an electrician who drove an all-terrain vehicle through snowstorms in order to repair the electrical generators and appliances in the village. He continues narrating his life’s eventful journey, telling STIR, “Finally, I came to Israel. This was such a huge change! A total culture-shock. Things really went from -50 degrees to +50 degrees. After many years, I was finally reunited with my father there, and Israel became a new home for me. From a small Siberian village in the middle of nowhere, I found myself right on the beach of the Mediterranean Sea, in the holy land of eternal summer and eternal war.”
The artist would begin working in Israel, making his way rather successfully through a career in computer graphics. Early on, he worked as a lead VFX in Israel’s largest post production company. Serdtse would become so specialised in his skillset that he became able to afford travel all over the world, no doubt imbibing artistic influence all along his journeys. And truly, his work is an eclectic offering, echoing the artist’s anthromorphisms, but also so much more in its influences. Serdtse may very well be one of those practitioners whose life one must first understand in order to truly understand their work, as it is only when we have travelled the course of his journey with him that we understand it is meant to be enjoyed for its ephemerality, without trying to force a narrative on it. Serdtse is, in many ways, his own narrative. He continues, “I wouldn't say that I am hiding some kind of message behind my art. For me, it's more of a dialogue or a dance with the universe, if you like. I am just gasoline in its puddle, which shimmers funny. The shamans from my youth embarked on spiritual journeys to extract knowledge from the universe. I feel as though I do the same. But, I use modern technologies to extract new forms of organisation of sound, space, and colours. I am extracting it from the world of recursions, algorithms, and matrix multiplications.
“Textures of all kinds, glitches, colour overflows, noise and simulations of dynamic environments are an integral part of my art. We were born in chaos. The feeling of belonging to its energy and its imperfection fills my inner world with freedom. That kind of freedom from the monomythic theory. The freedom of the hero to be,” he concludes.