Mirosław Rogala is an artist who creates video, digital, and interactive artworks, as well as photography, music, and poetry. He combines multiple techniques in his search for a multimedia hyperform that will welcome interaction with viewers.
Artist creating video, digital, and interactive artworks, as well as photography, music, and poetry.
Rogala was born on 27th March, 1954. In 1979, he graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków, after which he moved to the United States and took up studies at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago (1981-1983). In 2000, Rogala received a doctorate in interactive arts from CAiiA/ STAR Centre for Advanced Inquiry at the Interactive Arts University of Wales.
He's received many prestigious awards and his works and solo exhibitions have been shown in several dozen countries across the world, including the U.S., Great Britain, Ireland, the Netherlands, Germany, Finland, Poland, Brazil, Japan, China, and many others. Since the 1990s, he has lectured at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Pratt Institute in New York, and Brooklyn College – City University of New York. He currently teaches at the Knowledge Systems Institute in Skokie, IL.
Polish Dance from 1980 was one of Mirosław Rogala's first video pieces. Realised after his move to the United States, and dedicated to Polish workers and the democratic underground, it documents the artist's simulated dance with camera on a rooftop. The camera became somewhat anthropomorphised and put in the position of Rogala's imaginary dancing partner. Rather than looking like a coordinated choreography, the artist's moves bring to mind confusion and search for a balance. The film is soundtracked by the traditional Polish melody A wszystko te czarne oczy (And it's All Because of Those Dark Eyes – editor's translation), played off-key on an accordion. The autonomisation of the medium which Rogala introduced in this piece hints at the ways the media evolves, becoming increasingly capable of creating perceptive and narrative structures.
PolishDance remastered2015 from Miroslaw Rogala on Vimeo.
Video and polyphonic structures
In the subsequent years, Rogala started expanding his means of expression, introducing multi-channel video installations, as well as more and more formally complex video works. Some of his notable polyphonic structures include: Four Simultaneous Provocations (1982), Laser Tape (1982), Speech (1982), Questions To Another Nation (1983), and Remote Faces: Outerpretation (1986). During that period, Rogala started using multilayered structures, drawing attention to the relationship between individual spheres, such as sound, image, text, and space. His works also bore multicultural and multilingual references, reflected in the formal solutions: more and more often, the video footage was juxtaposed with computer-generated structures. Such was the case with his work created for the adaptation of Shakespeare's Macbeth, directed by Byrne Piven in 1989, where Rogala authored both the visual and sound layers.
New media and interactivity
In late 1980s, Rogala prepared a series of multimedia installation and performance-based works, thus proposing new media environments for performative arts. Their technological layer was not reduced to mere scenography, but constituted an integral part of a piece. The artist dubbed his multi-channel installation Nature is Leaving Us from 1989 as a ‘video opera.’ Apart from designing the system of sound and image transmission, Rogala also wrote the lyrics and music. Nature is Leaving Us included a collaboration with the singer Urszula Dudziak, who was improvising live during the performance.
In 1995, Rogala created the installation Lovers Leap, first displayed at Zentrum Für Kunst und Medientechnologie w Karlsruhe. He proposed a brand new form of navigating a media space. The spectators were able to move across the installation area, thus navigating and controlling the multimedia space.
Rogala's works often also contain references to broadly understood environmentalism, which sees society as a system of interaction and exchange of experience. In the project Electronic Garden/NatuRealization, the artist offered the audience a possibility of formulating their own aesthetic experience. The titular electronic garden was placed in the middle of the Washington Square Park in Chicago; by moving around the space with installed infrared sensors, the audience members activated subsequent sound narratives played through speakers. The recordings referred to freedom of speech, exchange of experiences in public space, and to the experience of an absent, but nevertheless virtually perceptible community with compatriots.
Rogala's later works included series of installations titled Transformed City and Transformed Garden, in which he technologically modified the sensory experiences of nature and architecture.
The artist sees the viewer as co-responsible for the creative process, referring to him or her as (V)User – Viewer User, so both an onlooker and an active user and participant. As he says:
Interactive media give the viewers a right to interfere not only in the content of an artwork, but also in its form. In consequence, the accent shifts from artist to the user, the relationship between the two changes, and the responsibility for the artwork begins to be shared. Art is a method of affirmation, contestation, and interpretation of life, it is an obsession and language, search for a balance, and a discovery of a new form of expression.1
1 Mirosław Rogala, “Dotykając dźwięków i słów, an interview by Agnieszka Flakus,” Magazyn Plus no. 6/2005, 55
Author: Michał Krawczak, Feburary 2016, transl. AM