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The case for a new media canon: Placing the works of Dmitry Kornienko

Weighing the gains and losses of establishing an arts canon within the genre of new media, through the works of Russian digital artist, Dmitry Kornienko.

by Manu SharmaPublished on : Aug 18, 2021

New Media arts practices entail a wide and varied body of artistic genres such as video art, music, augmented reality, and related art projects. Within these, there is a great and fast-growing number of niche practices that often marry site-specific contexts with esoteric technologies in order to create breathtaking aural, visual or experiential pieces. However, an aspect of new media that often complicates discussions around this broad artistic grouping is so fast that there is scant, if any canon within it that one may reference. This stunts any commentator’s ability to appraise art within the ambit of new media, as there is hardly any benchmark, with regards to socio-cultural impact or effectiveness or even the influence individual pieces by creatives all over the world have held. However, as one may infer from an interview with Moscow-born new media artist, Dmitry Kornienko, this may very well be for the better. The artist describes his work saying, “If we are regarding the general genre, then this is ‘New Media Art’, but if we go into the particularities, then I cannot give an answer as to what it exactly is.” Kornienko, whose work can best be approached as abstract, computer-based visuals, creates pieces that are deeply atmospheric and sometimes tell stories of the collective interconnectedness of natural or urban environments, blurring their boundaries in the process. Often, however, the beauty of the artist’s visuals rests in their abstraction and utter inscrutability beyond the sense they manifest of a glorious transformation of the human and natural realms. It is unclear if this transformation is evolution or decay, but the feeling of witnessing a profound change lingers. How, then, would one talk about work such as Kornienko’s, within a broader context filled with no end to labels for its niche subjectivities, that new media would no doubt become were it to be propped up by a definite canon of practitioners and pieces. It may, in fact, be the anarchic quality of the genre that allows for such artist's works to flourish, and for other practices that fall within this ambit. Any measure of compartmentalisation may dampen the ability, and indeed, the desire of potential practitioners to think and create asymmetrically, as is the genre’s strongest aspect.

01 min watch Kornienko melds natural and man-made environments to create a strange and hybrid third | Dmitry Kornienko | STIRworld
Kornienko melds natural and man-made environments to create a strange and hybrid third Video: Dmitry Kornienko

Kornienko tells STIR, “I studied in Moscow specialising in industrial design at MSUDT (Moscow State University of Design and Technology). While I was there, I received an academic education relating to drawing and painting, which focused on the design of everyday objects.” In his final year, the artist would become fascinated with the topic of computational design, and undertook a diploma project that was created entirely using Grasshopper and Rhinoceros. Grasshopper is a software that is used to develop working algorithms, which are often, in turn, used to make generative art, and Rhinoceros is geared towards 3D modelling. The project referenced above involved bicycle design, and if one explores Kornienko’s work, they will find several such designs that are stylistic and functional. However, in the time since, the artist has added a far greater level of computational experience to his working knowledge; having moved in a far more abstract direction with his work.

01 min watch One of Kornienko’s abstract pieces | Dmitry Kornienko | STIRworld
One of Kornienko’s more abstract pieces Video: Dmitry Kornienko

The artist was also inspired during his student life by the work of the TUNDRA collective, which focuses on creating rich audio-visual experiences and highly immersive installations. In some ways, his work evokes visions of theirs, yet stands apart through its own individual themes and processes. Kornienko says, “The content of my projects includes a certain meaning associated with the intersection of many factors. This can be data visualisation, or the intersection of classical artistic practices using digital methods. It can also be a visualisation of some kind of applied activity.” While this explanation ratifies some of the emotional responses to his work, as they were discussed earlier, it largely, and appropriately, ascribes a certain mystique to the artist’s practice.

01 min watch An untitled work of Kornienko | Dmitry Kornienko | STIRworld
An untitled work of KornienkoVideo: Dmitry Kornienko

An important catalyst in the discussion around a possible new media canon is the booming NFT art market. While Kornienko himself does not mention any involvement with it, it remains a possible governing body in the formation of such a pantheon, primarily through its emergent position as the chief deciding factor with regards to the price collectors will pay for pieces such as the ones he create. It is, of course, an extremely valuable space for practitioners whose work exists in the digital, as it has provided them with the means to make money off of work that was hitherto created more often than not as passion projects. However, the NFT market also constitutes a real challenge to explorative creativity as it will undoubtedly skew the direction artists will take with regards to the works they create; encouraging them to think through trends, as is a recognisable lament within many other creative genres.

01 min watch Instinct and interest guide the artistry of new media artist Dmitry Kornienko | Dmitry Kornienko | STIRworld
Instinct and interest guide the artistry of new media artist Dmitry Kornienko Video: Dmitry Kornienko

Kornienko himself isn’t particularly concerned with the possibility of restrictions and streamlining of thought that new media practices may encounter in the emerging arts landscape. Instead, he chooses to commit himself in totality to what is before him. “Recently, I worked on a project with the artist Frederik De Wilde. This work was presented at the ‘Mapping Festival 2051’ in Geneva”, he says. Currently, he is finalising a project that will deal with landscapes for an upcoming exhibition, and also has another project in the plans, which will be connected with the work of the philosopher Jean Baudrillard. Kornienko stands among new media practitioners who have used the anarchic nature as a strength, and has allowed instinct and interest, more than anything to guide his artistry. In doing so, he serves as a wonderful example for emergent artists in this genre to learn from, and will continue doing so as the creative world mutates in the coming years. It remains to be seen what direction he will move in, and whether he will react to shifting paradigms at all, but for now, he undoubtedly remains an important practitioner within the broad ambit of new media, and one with a large and highly enjoyable body of work as well.

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