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The public call out for the inaugural CIRCA x Dazed Class of 2021 initiative asked audiences to submit a 2.5 minute film in response to the theme ‘Communion’ set by interdisciplinary artist and lecturer, Angel Rose. After receiving 2,000 applications, we are proud to present the 30 finalists who will each receive access to the Dazed Space and have their work exhibited as part of the CIRCA programme, appearing across public screens in London, Tokyo and Seoul this September.

Expanding on their commitment to help support the talent of tomorrow, CIRCA and Dazed appointed a community of jurors including Cauleen Smith, Frank Lebon, Hugo Comte, Simone Rocha, Dexter Navy, Hans Ulrich Obrist and Michele Lamy to select their top 5 submissions. From this, one lucky finalist will be selected by world renowned performance artist Marina Abramović to receive the #CIRCAECONOMY cash prize of £30,000.

With public art spaces diminishing, investment in arts education being cut and artist communities at risk, this joint initiative aims to empower the next generation of artists working in moving-image by platforming new voices and points of view from local communities on a global level, giving them unrivalled media exposure and the tools to help kick start their careers.

FLAVIAN BERAR, ENGINES, 2021

I am Flavian Berar and at the moment I identify myself as an artist and a storytelling architectural designer.

For the last 9 years I have been living in London, training at The Bartlett, UCL, in architecture, film and 3D animation. Within my work, time becomes the fourth dimension capable of unlocking new spatial and material realities that reconcile the qualities of the digital with those of the physical world.

I am currently developing my art practice through narrative animation, writing and research on posthuman culture in the face of the 4th Industrial Revolution whilst also practicing architecture.

ëENGINESí is a two part video addressing one of the most pressing current issues, the Climate Emergency and our species' need of self salvation and attunement to an entangled mode of coexistence with nature and the universe.

Here ëCommunioní is seen as the act of coming together under one system of belief in an attempt to reverse the damage that's been created, while a new posthuman culture is being born. The piece attempts to answer the questions - if climate change becomes religion, then what kind of form does its temple take and what is it made of?

The first part, ëEngines of Creationí, places a temple in the context of the Swiss Alps, growing as a suspended structure above the landscape, leaving the nature beneath it untouched. The second part, ëEngines of Repairí unfolds the vision of a biologically digital skin sensing its environment, a hybrid materiality made of bits and molecules, guided by digital processes, yet performing according to biological paradigms, under the Sun.

How did you become an artist and what was your route to your current practice?

FLAVIAN BERAR:
Art had always been part of my education ever since I was 7 years old and transitioning to study architecture at university had only been a consequence of trying to marry artistic creativity with practicality.

I have grown to see architecture as an embodiment of human culture and knowledge, a piece of art designed and built to be inhabited. Traditionally, I believe architecture had the power to change society and humanity. Yet having been in practice as a trainee, it appears that architects have been conditioned to follow a hierarchy and a set of rules of other establishments. Under the free market their value has been displaced and influence over shaping a fairer society has been diminished. Practicing architecture without stepping into other fields cannot challenge the status quo on its own.

It was during my architecture master’s degree that I became interested into the storytelling potential of time-based media as a way of practicing both art and architecture in an intertwined and alternative way. In my work, art is in the medium and the medium is part of the message, while architecture, space and materiality are protagonists.

One other fact that led to my current way of working with moving image is that we live in a world of constant distraction and fight for our attention. I believe the best storytellers will be those who will know how to captivate an audience whose average attention span is of no more than 12 seconds according to studies conducted in 2020. In this regard, I would like to continue using film in my practice and perhaps one day positively apply those techniques in architectural design.

What inspires you to make your work?

FLAVIAN BERAR:
Every project stems from a problem and aspires to suggest a solution or preventing an issue from developing in the future. I find inspiration in the posthuman discourse and culture, nature, feminist ethics, philosophy and technology as a means, rather than an end in itself.

At the moment, I am concerned with the Climate Emergency and also with ideas of bringing the mind back to the body, back into the present moment through design. I believe in the past one year and a half we have all experienced a sample of how life may feel like in the future if we don’t act now.

Can you identify any elements of your community or collaborators that have had a strong influence?

FLAVIAN BERAR:
My mentors at The Bartlett have also been my closest collaborators throughout my journey so far.

Dr Penelope Haralambidou is the person who has played the biggest influence on me, guiding me towards a visionary way of approaching architecture, borrowing from art practice, filmmaking and storytelling and paving the way for me to become a well-rounded artist and architect. Under her coordination I have also been fortunate to learn directly from the film maker Grant Gee. I would also like to mention my tutor Michael Tite for helping me understand the feasibility of my visions and how they could extend and acquire a dimension beyond the screen; film director and designer Keiichi Matsuda for his support and technical input on time-based media and insight into the multifaceted nature of disruptive digital technologies; and sound designer and composer Kevin Pollard who I work with closely to add immersive sound to my animations.

Would you consider your practice to have a positive social impact, and if so in what way?

FLAVIAN BERAR:
Whilst Climate Change may indeed pose a threat to the future of humanity, I believe it can also act as a catalyst for positive societal change. The piece ‘Engines’ plays on the notion of a local and circular economy, potentially where the inhabitant, user or member of a community plays an active role in the construction of a building or making of an object, for instance by reusing waste and giving it a new form and value. I believe each and every person should have the basic scientific knowledge of living without creating damage to planet Earth. Trying to propagate this idea through animation and feeding into the imagination of the larger audience can help turning it into reality. Not only could this pay respect to mother nature by reducing embodied carbon emissions, but could consequently encourage increased awareness, learning of skills and development of local sustainable economies.

How is your project tied to the Circa x Dazed Class of 20:21 theme of ‘Communion’?

FLAVIAN BERAR:
‘ENGINES’ is a two part video addressing one of the most pressing current issues, the Climate Emergency and our species’ need of self salvation and attunement to an entangled mode of coexistence with nature and the universe.

Here ‘Communion’ is seen as the act of coming together under one system of belief in an attempt to reverse the damage that’s been created, while a new posthuman culture is being born. The piece attempts to answer the questions – if climate change becomes religion, then what kind of form does its temple take and what is it made of?

The first part, ‘Engines of Creation’, places a temple in the context of the Swiss Alps, growing as a suspended structure above the landscape, leaving the nature beneath it untouched. The second part, ‘Engines of Repair’ unfolds the vision of a biologically digital skin sensing its environment, a hybrid materiality made of bits and molecules, guided by digital processes, yet performing according to biological paradigms, under the Sun.

Has your work been recognised by any public bodies or organisations in the past?

FLAVIAN BERAR:
No, my work has not been recognised by any public bodies or organisations in the past. This will also be the first time it receives exposure of a large scale.

How would the #CIRCAECONOMY prize of £30,000 impact your future practice?

FLAVIAN BERAR:
The #CIRCAECONOMY Prize would give me the exposure and resources to kick start my practice and I believe there is no greater impact than this.

What would you do with the money?

FLAVIAN BERAR:
Having this sum of money at disposal, I would use it to create the opportunity for further funding which could help further positive change, especially regarding climate and species survival awareness.

I believe people learn most through experience. Therefore, this sum of money could be key in acquiring the necessary resources to develop a new, experimental and perhaps challenging piece of work, an art project that starts with the audio-visual elements and expands into the physical realm to create an immersive learning experience. A project situated within the narrative of posthuman culture as ‘we’ rather than ‘I’ could attract varied interest, development, opportunities, further funding and positive change.

If you are awarded the #CIRCAECONOMY prize, how might this affect your community?

FLAVIAN BERAR:
Firstly, I am a member of the storytelling architects community in London. This is also a network of people equally interested in the above-mentioned issues. Being awarded the prize could create the time, space and opportunity for discussion and debate, connecting members of the Architecture world with those from the Art one.

Secondly, I am a member of the LGBTQ+ community. It is undeniable the positive and empowering impact this would have on the community. I believe the problems of climate change, diversity, ecology and inclusion have a similar cultural root cause.

Last but not least, I am of Romanian nationality and I believe Romanian artists are underrepresented on the global art scene at the moment. In my work I use my voice with an Eastern European accent to express aspirational ideas for the entire world to listen. Being awarded the prize could help give a voice to this part of Europe and project it even further. A diverse body of voices could create more inclusive solutions for the problems ahead.