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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.

HELIENA HAGOS, EARTH, 2021

Hi, I am Heliena. I’m a freelance digital artist, native Londoner, that illustrates and makes experimental generative/live animation about the future, science/tech, sound/music. Currently I’m developing a character-led generative art piece that will have 2d animation character designs at the forefront, to be projected.

As someone who’s grown up in (near central) London, and has been a part of/influenced by underground music/creative scenes, and UK-grown music genres as well as the opposing commercial (and technological) bombardement of central London, it would be amazing to make a full circle with these themes and finally converge all of these elements together. I love travelling, and have been to Tokyo and Seoul so this opportunity is particularly meaningful.

I have submitted an audio-visual piece called ‘Earth Sound’. I used the idea of music, as something that has brought people together(communed) for hundreds of years , through time and space, and reflected it from a macro viewpoint. I created a beat-driven (drum & bass) ambient-ish track, and sampled audio from NASA, e.g a recorded noise of sound waves trapped in earth’s atmosphere, (literally the sound of earth/our community). I’ve used NASA’s satellite scan of the earth's surface for the details of the 3d earth in the composition. The visual is a generative animation that evaluates the track’s audio information and changes according to that, and never plays back exactly the same twice if I were to record it again. It’s inspired by the view of earth in space, the ultimate sense of community, the feeling of insignificance and yet the most valuable. I had fun making this, I hope people think it’s dope.

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

HELIENA HAGOS:
I was a hobbyist artist from childhood with an interest in music, and science fiction. I had a typical traditional arts education in school in London, a stint as an Architectural design intern, and then I studied Animation at university. Animation was influential as it managed to be unfiltered/radical and seemed to evade scrutiny. I was a graphic designer/UI artist giving me some inside experience of commercial use of tech, design, and capital. It further prompted me to explore the exponential growth of tech/science in our lives, and utopias/dystopias. Real-time animation(and music event visuals) is a recent development that allowed me to merge all my influences with an element of experimentation. Moving forward I’d like to include more considerations about space or architecture in what I do.

What inspires you to make your work?

HELIENA HAGOS:
I pull tiny elements of inspiration from everyday experiences, science fiction, shocking art , cinema, nature, literature, 80s/90s era animation, dreams, or landscapes; like when I visited Iceland. Under-explored territories, underrepresented perspectives, unusual concepts & aesthetics are particularly interesting. Our identities have become more complex through the metaverse of the internet, as well as physical technology. Ideas such as: ways it brings us together, imprinting our best and worst qualities, how we will lose control of it, the divide between those who create tech and those who use it, and tech as an extension of our bodies and minds are interesting.

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

HELIENA HAGOS:
An example of community influence is the cultural impact of my relatives and listening to Jazz. Jazz’s mix of planned and improvisational is something I try to channel when I create real-time animation. It would be great to develop something like jazz animation. Growing up in a metropolis as a community has definitely informed my perspectives and style. The landscape of a fast-changing and dense, modern city has probably influenced my interest in speculating futures.

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

HELIENA HAGOS:
I think so. I’d like to make new things that make people excited. Excitement seems to be the core feeling from which stems positive social impact, community, dialogue, inspiration, shock, agreement /disagreement, amusement. The animation I grew up watching was immersive, intriguing ,sometimes dark and cynical, leaving people excited and wanting to come together to talk about it. I try to have a similar effect when I illustrate people from the future, in the context of robotics, data, privacy and ecology. In a time where we can/do experience so much virtually, I think physical, communal experiences will be increasingly impactful- so I hope to be involved in that. Also, it would be great if people who might feel invisible in the portrayal of sci fi, speculative fiction, and concepts about the future feel like they see themselves in it.

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

HELIENA HAGOS:
I’ve taken the theme of music and created an audio visual real-time animation peice called “Earth Sound” that responds to the theme by outlining earth as a community. Music has brought people together(communed) through time and space, and I’ve shown it from a macro viewpoint. There’s a beat-driven (drum & bass) ambient-ish track, and audio sampled from NASA, e.g a recorded noise of sound waves trapped in earth’s atmosphere, (the sound of earth/our community). I’ve used NASA’s satellite scan of the earth’s surface for the details of the 3d earth in the composition. The visual is a generative animation that evaluates the track’s audio information and changes according to that, and never plays back exactly the same twice if I were to record it again. It’s inspired by the view of earth in space, the ultimate sense of community, the feeling of insignificance and yet the most valuable.

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

HELIENA HAGOS:
No

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

HELIENA HAGOS:
This type of affirmation would be hugely impactful on the way I approach this going forward, the positive feedback would be the first time I see if the concepts portrayed resonate with people at a larger scale. It would be amazing to have the opportunity to connect with people who share similar ideas.

What would you do with the money?

HELIENA HAGOS:
As someone that’s only recently started exploring independent creation in this way, it would mean the freedom to continue developing the practice. It would go to better materials/hardware and resources to create and collaborate with others to make event/experience based arts, and hopefully hire impactful spaces. In the long-term I’d like to also create narrative-lead animations for new ideas/stories that are unexplored, there’s still a lot of potential in animation through an African diaspora lense.

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

HELIENA HAGOS:
The support will hopefully be a boost in morale for other artists who have anything in common with myself, (e.g those who pursue arts that are non-traditional/new media/ experimental). I hope to get involved with more music events, so this may be a positive sign for the London nightlife industry also.