Gohar Martirsoyan - Identity

Gohar Martirosyan: Exploring Identity Through Virtual Reality

Artist: I’m Gohar Martisrosyan a multimedia artist. I started my artistic journey with site-specific installations and paintings. Recently, in the last three years, I’ve been working on digital art and new media. I mostly specialize in cinema, and my latest project is a VR film.

Interviewer: Can you share the reasons behind your transition from traditional art forms to exploring new digital mediums in your artistic journey?

Artist: Yeah, I guess it’s related to the context and the opportunities it offers. I was born in Armenia, and Armenia doesn’t have such an innovative field of art. But I don’t mean to criticize it; it’s just the stage where we are now. At some point, I realized that I am a product of my context, and that I have to move on, grow, and explore media that could be relevant to the questions I am addressing. These questions have to be perceived in a larger, worldwide understanding of what contemporary art is, and not be limited to a narrow social group. I’m looking for issues that could be universal and relevant to a broader audience.


Interviewer: Okay, but why did you choose France for your education and artistic journey?

Artist: That’s a good question, actually. I was interested in cinema since I was a teenager. But I never had the opportunity to work on it because cinema is not an individualistic art form. You couldn’t lock yourself at home and make a film. It’s a collaborative medium. So, if we’re talking about cinema, France is one of the strongest countries with a background in this field. I found that France is the perfect ground for new research and understanding, bringing my background to merge with what’s going on in Western Europe now and finding new directions and guidance.

Interviewer: Your first project in France was more or less traditional, right? It was contemporary cinema, but still a screen-based medium, right?

Artist: Yes, it was. Working on that project was a great experience. I think it’s the best experience I’ve ever had in my life. Cinema has something magical inside of it, something that comes alive in your mind and imagination. And at some moment, you see it materialize, and you can touch the embodiment of your imagination. I believe nothing could be stronger than that. It was a special experience, especially when you see 10 people totally synchronized. It’s the highest trip that can happen to an artist. I learned a lot during that project, developing my approach and understanding how to transform reality into storytelling, making it accessible to the viewer. I always consider the position of the viewer in my projects. It’s very important to me.

Interviewer: Who would you name as an inspiration on your journey?

Artist: While on my journey, I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with many artists, but there are two that stand out: Ben Russell and Anne Imhof. From the very first day I met Ben Russell, there was an instant connection. He possesses a captivating perception of the camera, which perfectly aligns with what I was seeking. His exploration of contemporary rituals in modern society and how these rituals transform and intertwine with our lives today deeply resonated with me.

As for Anne Imhof, I had the pleasure of attending her shows at Palla de Tokyo and Venice Biennale, and ever since then, I have been closely following her work. She is a compelling and topical artist, riding the high wave of trends. Her artistic reflections on rave culture, consumerism, and the melancholy experienced by the new generation are themes that I also address and find profoundly relevant. Her approach of using non-professional actors and real-life experiences to craft performative narratives is something I incorporate into my own work as well. Coincidentally, on the  VR project, I have also had the pleasure of working with Sacha Eusebe, who collaborated with Anne Imhof .

Gohar MArtirosyan- Identity

Gohar MArtirosyan- Identity installation

Gohar MArtirosyan- Identity installation 2
Panorama 24 L’autre coté | Le Fresnoy 2022

Interviewer: After your first film, what were your takeaways? Why did you decide to turn to VR?

Artist: I went so far with my first film. I experimented and gave my all to it, so basically, I let myself go and learned to be in the moment instead of rushing it out. It was very emotional for me and risky. Maybe as a debut, it transformed me, and I learned lessons to go further, most importantly to be aware of the people around me. At first, I was too focused on the final product. Now I am concerned about the crew, the people who surround me, and how to keep them more comfortable. And trust the flow, not something only I want, because, in the end, it will be something much better. The culture of acceptance is good, to accept but never make compromises, some kind of fusion of different contradictions.

Interviewer: Yes, it is. Thank you for sharing that. Let’s talk a bit about your second film, “Identity.” Can you tell us a bit more about the concept behind it and how you came up with the idea?

Artist: I’ve always had the question of how to make the viewer a part of the film, to integrate them, not just to let them absorb the situation but to be a part of it. That’s why I was working with performance as it is a life experience, and cinema, as Andrei Tarkovsky said, is the mosaic of time. So it is never life tracking. That’s why I turned to VR because it is an eclectic human-centric medium. You are the center of a 360-degree high res experience. And if you stay there, life is happening at the moment, around you. That is my relation with the medium of VR, it is the way the film is structured, and that’s why it is called “Identity.” It is about defining yourself and understanding your own identity. During this era of digital transformation, it is hard to define oneself only through bone and blood and to make a bold step further, I can say we are not far away from identifying ourselves as avatars. And Artificial Intelligence (AI) will soon be as real as we are, as physicality is not the only proof of being.

Interviewer: So you are saying that we are just representations of our real selves in the physical world, and digital identities or so-called avatars are part of our identity as well?

Artist: Yes, exactly. Actually, we are more represented in digital form than physically more and more. And I don’t have anything against that, as I am more of an observer who reflects the inevitable.

Interviewer: Yes, it is. Thank you for sharing that. Let’s talk a bit about your second film, “Identity.” Can you tell us a bit more about the concept behind it and how you came up with the idea?

Artist: The film “Identity” is based on the story of Sacha, the performer, who represents the new generation. The film delves into his inner thoughts and emotions, exploring two opposing identities within him. One identity is aligned with the system, contributing to it, in all forms of it: living a consumeristic life, modeling for BALENCIAGA and other big brands. On the other side, he resists this culture and blames himself for it. We see these identities represented as clones in the film, showing the dialects between them. The film’s narrative leads to a striking scene where the identities start to merge and enter the body of the viewer, symbolizing the need for unity and understanding our own identity in the modern world. It’s a journey of self-discovery and reflection on contemporary society.

Interviewer: That sounds fascinating. Tell me about the challenges you faced during the production process, especially considering the new medium of VR.

Artist: The production process for “Identity” had its challenges, especially in working with VR. VR filmmaking requires precise direction, and nothing can be left to chance. Unlike other art forms where improvisation can be embraced, VR demands careful planning and attention to detail. We worked with motion capture for the performer’s movements, which required significant technical knowledge. The CGI elements were meticulously created using 3D Max, and the film’s 360-degree sound design added another layer of complexity. Despite the challenges, I enjoyed the process and am now working on my second VR project, which will continue to explore the possibilities of this exciting medium.



Interviewer: It’s impressive to see how you embraced the challenges and are continuing to explore the potential of VR as an artistic medium. So, do you think you will continue to develop your artistic practice in this digital realm with new technologies like VR and AI?

Artist: Absolutely. I am very interested in exploring the digital realm further, particularly with VR and AI. VR, in particular, allows me to create immersive experiences and involve the audience in a way that traditional media cannot achieve. As technology advances, I believe that these new mediums will continue to play a significant role in shaping the future of art. Even if they are not perfect now, they offer new possibilities for artistic expression and reflection on our rapidly evolving world.

Interviewer: That’s an exciting perspective, and it’s great to see how you are embracing these new technologies in your artistic journey. Thank you so much for sharing your insights!

Artist: Thank you for having me. It’s been a pleasure to talk about my work and the future of art. I’m excited to see where these new technologies will take us in the artistic landscape.

Goharm Martisrosyan - portrait

Gohar Martirosyan

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