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Digital Dreamscapes: Claudia Rafael's Vision of Reimagined Beauty
NCO 005
2023-03-23
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by
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Claudia Rafael is an artist with a digital heartbeat. Nestled at the crossroads of fashion, art, and culture, she crafts narratives that probe the blurry lines between reality and the virtual.

Digital art, with its modern tools and mediums, forms the crux of her work, drawing unexpected connections between nature, art, and pop culture.

In her paper titled "Beauty in techno-expressive times — extended (posthuman) beauty and bodies," she argues for a more liberating use of digital tools. She posits Augmented Reality (AR) as a gateway to transcending traditional beauty norms, and a chance for us to imagine ourselves differently.

Rafael's A.I. Beauty Portraits project encapsulates her intrigue with the junction of cybernetic and material systems. The portraits, centered on altered singularities, demonstrate the ongoing evolution of beauty as AI catalyzes the metamorphosis of our standards.

The 2020 launch of NEWFORMAT, a creative studio co-founded by Rafael, solidified her commitment to blending cutting-edge technology with artistic innovation. Emphasizing interdisciplinary exchange, NEWFORMAT fosters dialogue between cultural and technological forces.

We had the chance to sit down with Claudia to discuss her thoughts on the ever-changing landscapes of technology and aesthetics. Read on to learn more about her perspective.

N: AI has proven to be an effective tool for synthesizing the essence of contemporary visual culture and predicting trends, yet the visual language and output of AI have also become an aesthetic and trend in themselves. Despite its groundbreaking utility, how resistant do you think "AI" aesthetics are to becoming a trend and eventually becoming passé and unlikable?

C: The idea of creating a new aesthetic, separate from the one determined by Artificial Intelligence, is, for me personally, very interesting. Utilizing the code in an unconventional way that you might not have considered before, with a visual output that is different, and developing your own style. The same applies to analog tools. In the end, what matters is how you use them rather than what tools you use. In this way, you may be able to break trends and develop your own visual language, even if there is already a certain aesthetic. Artificial Intelligence tools and the versatility of applications are becoming increasingly complex. This exponential growth of tools and settings will also lead to more and more unique outputs, which may not fit into any specific predefined aesthetic pattern.

N: What was your first encounter with the Web3 community and NFTs, and what "sold" you on the idea of conflating art with blockchain technology?

C: Finally, digital artists being able to have their signature on original art pieces through blockchain technology was, for me, a big development in digital art.

N: With the advent of new technologies like AI, we often witness the emergence of new talents and skills. For example, in the creative industries, it appears that the focus is shifting from technical skills to more abstract abilities, such as effectively communicating ideas to an AI, curating the abundant content generated by AI, or possessing refined taste. What are your thoughts on this shift, and what kind of talent do you envision thriving in the upcoming era?

C: People's original mindset and unique ideas based on their own research and development will always be relevant. In the context of ChatGPT, for instance, which is a system that produces text, this AI accesses the entire world's data available over the Internet. The problem we face here is that this is a data-centered approach to information that already exists. Meaning, the data in the world that is already out there, the data from the past, provides the basis for future statements. In this way, fact becomes the norm. As such, I believe it is even more essential to create novel ideas and to critically evaluate the data that is readily available.

All images courtesy of Claudia Rafael.
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