We talked about her work and production practice with Danish artist Stine Deja, whose work explores the effects of technological development on our psychology, living conditions, and behavioral patterns.
Who is Stine Deja? Can you briefly tell us about yourself?
I’m a Danish artist living and working in Copenhagen, Denmark. My work is most often presented as immersive installations featuring sound, video and sculptures. In a time of proceleration (the acceleration of acceleration), I look at where we are going and who we are becoming. What new technologies we’re adopting in our never-ending quest for propulsion and how they have the power to change us forever. The figures that appear in my universe are often hybrid forms, fragmented or partially obscured – recognisable only by their blinking eyes or vocal expressions. My universes are hyper-polished, almost Apple-ified, at the intersection of art and design. They are recognizable and alien at the same time, like an uncanny physical manifestation of a computer rendering.
What are the main focal points of your practice, where you explore the effects of technological development on our psychology, living conditions, and behavioral patterns, and how did you become interested in these topics?
I look a lot at the technologies that have the power to change us, our habits, interests, our inner beings as well as our life expectancy. These technologies are interesting to me, as they can kind of outline a future for us, as well as they express who we are right now. The tech/tools we develop reveals a lot about what our desires are and what kind of society we are striving towards. However, as philosopher Srecko Horvat explains, our ability to construct new technologies ranging from nuclear bombs to robots and space travel is greater than our ability to understand the consequences. It’s this area, between development and consequence, that I’m eager to try and understand.
Which of your works has excited you the most regarding the design process and the final product?
It’s hard to pick one, I try to only do work that excites me. I think the one project that I felt very good about was Cold Sleep, as the process was made extremely complex by COVID-19. Producing that work feels like a saga looking back at it, involving a Danish mink crisis, a lockdown and relocating to another country. I had made so many mini-mockups of the installation in cardboard, hand drawings and CGI animations, it seemed like a lot could go wrong. In the end it all came together, and I still feel very pleased with the project.
Can you tell us a bit about your production process? How do you balance creativity and technical skills in the design process?
There was a point where it was important for me to do absolutely everything myself and learn new skills as I needed them. But gradually as I got more and more busy, I’ve had to learn more about delegating and hiring people to help. I’ve learned that working with other people really teaches me a lot too, as you must be able to put your ideas into such detailed wording and drawings very early on. I am still very hands on though and eager to learn new things, so I still produce a lot of things myself both for my actual artistic work as well as hobby projects. The latest passion I had was carpentry, and before that metal work. This morning I was thinking about getting my sewing machine out and experimenting a bit more with that type of thing. It means a lot to me to have knowledge of different tools, as it expands what you are able to imagine doing. And every time I learn a new skill, I find that my “problem/opportunity” solving overall gets sharper and sharper.
Can you tell us a little bit about the sources of inspiration behind your work? Who are the names you follow with curiosity in this field or different disciplines?
A lot of inspiration comes from new technologies and subcultures, such as the transhumanist movement and the doomsday preppers. When something catches my attention or excites me, I can easily spiral into that universe for hours on end. I follow the latest news within biotechnology and tech in general, and often this could lead to a string of thoughts adding up or becoming a starting point.
I follow a lot of people within the transhuman movement, as well as politicians and tech giants. In general, I follow a lot of media outlets, as it’s important for me to know what’s going on to be able to imagine where we are headed.
Are you excited about the future, and what are your plans?
I am excited about the future, that’s for sure. I try to live my life with an optimistic outlook, I think a lot (probably too much sometimes) about the words and metaphors I use to create my own reality. However, I’m not blind towards the many challenges we are facing with climate change and AI for example, and I would be lying if I said it didn’t worry me. I hope we can figure out a way to transform our collective concerns into actions, and I sincerely hope the governments around the world will act.
Regarding my plans, I look forward to the upcoming shows I have in Denmark, Luxembourg and France this year, as well as continuing work on some public sculptures. On a more personal plan I long for more time for walking, probably one of the most meditative things I know, I would love to walk the Camino at some point soon.