Stepan Ryabchenko: "As an artist, I confirm the existence of the One who created the universe and the human"
Time brings new tools for those who share their worlds with others. Ukrainian artist, Stepan Ryabchenko, creates virtual landscapes and life forms that cross the digital border and are translated into physical installations and sculptures
The artist from Odessa has gained worldwide recognition in digital and media art: international exhibitions, getting onto the Forbes list "30 Under 30" and the author's signature project "Strange Time". It was Stepan's works that lead our column of digital inspiration, and while his works represent Ukraine at World Expo Dubai 2020, the Blur editor asked the artist about his recent creative explorations.
Stepan Ryabchenko
ph: Yulia Abramovich
One of the new series I'm working on right now is "Dedication to the Spider". Its story began on August 16, 2020 with a work of the same name, which is associated with my personal life experience. That work was first shown in the Inaugural Show project on the international platform Electric Artefacts, and now it is exhibited at Expo 2020 in Dubai. Subsequently, I began to develop the idea and over time a whole series was formed, the main character of which, in my opinion, is an exact metaphorical image of today's time.

In mythopoetic traditions, creative activity is associated with the image of a spider. The Great Spinner is the Creator who weaves the thread of life from its own substance, attaches to itself through the umbilical cord of all the people and weaves them into the web of the patterns of the world. In the context, we are talking about the creation of a new global network of the virtual world, in which it is extremely important to grasp the web, which will serve as a guiding or even saving thread for each of us.
Creating digital works of art, putting on VR headsets, humanity dives deeper and deeper into the virtual world. And if we take into account the speed of this dive, we are more likely to jump off a cliff than slowly descend to depth, getting used to the pressure. Do you think we are ready for the simultaneous life "here" and "there" in the near future? How can the material coexist harmoniously with the virtual?

— You just need to realize that the virtual world is an illusion that can be turned off at any time with an ordinary switch. That is why I try, as far as possible and necessary, to translate my projects into physical form.
For me, a computer is a tool in tune with time. But time tends to change, giving rise to novel tools. Therefore, the main thing for me is my own imagination and ideas, which can be visualized in various ways. As long as the virtual world continues to evolve, and if used correctly, it can can produce impressive results and complement the physical world.
We can envision the prospect of humanity developing simultaneously in two different directions — technological and spiritual: people invent VR games and artificial limbs embedded with AI, meanwhile meditating and learning to hear their inner voice. What is your attitude towards the concepts of God and soul? And how does this manifest in your work?

— Art can show how boundless the imagination of a person is. By creating my world, as an artist, I confirm the existence of the One who's created the universe and the human who was given the opportunity to become like Him.
Portal. From the Virtual Landscapes series (2020)
What's your view on the development of digital art in Ukraine, considering community and venue perspectives?

— I like the fact that everything is developing in a balanced way. Painting, sculpture, installation, photography, digital art... There are places to show works and they are very interesting. By world standards, at the moment we have two venues with the greatest potential. This is the Ukrainian House, with the shining example of "Media Dependency", where my video installation "Electronic Winds" was demonstrated. And the Mystetskyi Arsenal with amazing projects such as the First Kiev Biennale's "Arsenale 2012" or "Great and Grand".
While Stepan is creating new works, in the Ukrainian pavilion of World Expo Dubai 2020 you can see his works from the series "Virtual Landscapes", as well as the sculpture "Walking Cloud", computer animation of the "Virtual Flower" and a robot that draws Ryabchenko's graphics with a real pen and signs it with artist's signature. The exhibition will be open until May 2022.
Cover: Under Cover of Silence. From the Dedication to the Spider series (2020).
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