Viktor Timofeev

VR-tist Viktor Timofeev brings his video game art to Sydney with Porcelain, Aug 17

17 August 2017

Viktor Timofeev is presenting solo exhibition Porcelain at Sydney’s Sydney, opening August 17.

The Rotterdam-based artist working with video games and virtual reality recently moved on from his Proxyah series — developed using the Unity game engine since 2013 — to Sazarus, its fourth iteration surfacing as the If I could go to sleep, would you count the hours? (SAZARUS IV) exhibition in Leicester in March. 

This show comes with little information, typical to the impressive programming of Paddington space, dedicated to “non-institutional modes of practice.” It has notably shown millennially-numbered group shows — featuring international artists Keith J Varadi, Adriana Ramić, Quintessa Matranga, Anna Solal and others — like 2021 in May and 2024 Part 2 last year. 

See the Sydney website for details.**

Viktor Timofeev, ‘Physical Capacity’ (2017). Performance view. Photo by Oskar Proctor. Courtesy Two Queens, Leicester.
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VR-tist Viktor Timofeev talks alien relationships + foreign logic in Sazarus IV

7 March 2017

“Okay, Proxyah is dead, gotta move on…,” writes artist Viktor Timofeev in an email about what instigated the end to a project and exhibition series that has been running since 2013. “On the one hand, its liberating to allow yourself to have a deep shelf of lived-with material to work with, but on the other, sometimes that same material can feel like a burden, and it’s nice to have an idea or a work just stay behind.” Following its final iteration in a joint exhibition with Joey Holder, called Lament of Ur, a corrupted hard drive and its subsequently lost project files meant the interactive exhibition, video game and performance project steeped in complex logics came to an end Sazarus was born.

Joey Holder + Viktor Timofeev, Lament of Ur (2015). Installation view. Courtesy of Karst Contemporary, Plymouth.

Marking a social, conceptual and geographical shift, as Timofeev moved from his base in London to The Netherlands’ Rotterdam, the new series follows advanced themes of “alien planets, estranged relationships, foreign logic, new experiments.” Begun in 2015 and now in it’s fourth volume, realised as the If I could go to sleep, would you count the hours? (SAZARUS IV) exhibition at Leicester’s Two Queens, running March 3 to May 23, the show takes its title from emo rock band AFI’s song ‘At A Glance‘ and follows previous versions shown at Vienna’s Jupiter Woods, and Glasgow’s Voidoid Archive, among others. The ongoing project consists of exhibitions, videos, performances and texts. They expand from a computer-game developed by the artist, and materializes in the English city as an installation that includes a reproduction of a mural from Riga in Latvia and an interactive virtual reality animation of a desolate scene populated only by cockroaches and patrolling drones. . 

In light of the new show, Timofeev talks to us about the evolution of the work and how it grew out of a one-off performance and an encounter with the work of performance artist Simone Forti. It was also inspired by “the idea of an obscured logic generating the work, like a hidden or false god, and an audience witnessing this process from within” that happened while watching people interact with his previous project Proxyah computer game project. 

** Can you talk us through the project a little bit as a whole? 

Viktor Timofeev: At first it was a title for a one-off performance, then was the title of an installation, then a performed computer game and now another installation, so it gradually grew into this iterating work I have been occupied with for the last year. One of its main themes was sparked when I watched people interact with the Proxyah game – or actually when I watched other people watching other people who were interacting with it. The idea of an obscured logic generating the work, like a hidden or false god, and an audience witnessing this process from within became really interesting and clicked into place when I visited the Yvonne Rainer exhibition at Raven Row. Her and Simone Forti’s generative choreography and dance construction pieces blew my mind.

Viktor Timofeev, ‘Physical Capacity’ (2017). Performance view. Photo by Oskar Proctor. Courtesy Two Queens, Leicester.

Maybe it seems obvious but it was a very precious moment that I think happens only once in a while — I felt productively shattered in the face of discovering something totally new but totally relevant, and ashamed that I hadn’t found it sooner. So the first iteration of Sazarus was a take on this and was a performance: two performers (at first myself and a friend, and afterwards instructed to strangers) took turns interacting with a specifically-designed game and making semi-automatic drawings, within a closed bracket of time.

** What attracts you to video games as an artistic medium?

VT: There’s lots of territory to explore. Though it does already have a substantial history, I definitely feel free to define what the medium means to myself in a broad way. And even though I‘ve frequently used game engines, the resulting work isn’t always a game in a traditional sense; it’s a way for me to assemble some programming or think about behaviour without a definitive end result… kind of like sketching in real-time. As a result, I’ve made generative works and videos using game engines, which I don’t consider game-related at all. Though can see how that is inextricably linked to it, which is also fine.

** In terms of art-making and story-telling, what do you think is a strength when it comes to gaming? 

VT: In terms of strength, I think games give anyone a chance to remodel or re-stage a world in any way they desire. Accessibility of game engines make it easy to draft up a space with non-realistic physics, scripted behaviour or a rich narrative following an idiosyncratic logic entirely of one’s own making. It is an opportunity to speculate on the outside world, run away from it, criticize it, reflect it, etc. It is a space to make a wrong right, or a right, wrong. This aspect of it is something I find really exciting and empowering.

Viktor Timofeev, ‘Wall at Deglava street, Purvciems, Riga’ (2017). Installation view. Photo by Oskar Proctor. Courtesy Two Queens, Leicester.

**  All you work feels quite intricately connected, following a very complex logic of symbols and signifiers, is it one that you fully understand yourself? 

VT: I definitely have a strong interest in pictograms, characters, isotypes; generally methods of communication that attempt to have a scope beyond the standard written language,  and particularly the ambiguities and problems that arise when systems of communication are streamlined, or ‘optimized’ in an attempt a find a base, universal common ground.

In past work I’ve made my own symbols and modified existing ones, considering different kinds of notation and how they might look cross-pollinated — math, logic, public signage, fictional, Unicode, etcetera. What attracts me the most to using a closed vocabulary of symbols within a work, is the ability to craft somewhat of an ecology — a space where symbols can have a relationship to each other and to nothing else external (such as the written language). These symbols are also often broken-down within the work itself (or an accompanying guide), their elements dissected and ‘charted.’ So I really try not to preserve this kind of secret knowledge of a fictional alphabet when using it within a work. But it has grown into somewhat of a fallback for me in terms of a recurring visual language.

Recently, I made a randomizing algorithm that scrambles the Latin alphabet – it cuts every letter into four quadrants, cycles through combinations of these quadrants, while preserving some symmetry and occasionally swaps tops and bottoms of these ‘letters.’ This resulted in an alphabet that was changing in real-time, growing progressively more randomized the longer the program was left running. This was kind of my attempt at trying to get rid of myself from the equation — at the mercy of a random function, just like anyone from an audience. I used this alphabet system in the Sazarus II installation at Voidoid Archive, Glasgow as part of the Vaporents group exhibition. It involved a two-hour performance in which multiple-choice questions that were assembled using said alphabet were being ‘decrypted’ and attempted to be answered by two performers, over the duration of the performance. The questions and the alphabet (which worked as the ‘key’) were displayed on two screens located at opposite ends of a room. The pace of the alphabet’s decay (or the speed at which is scrambled) was faster than the performers’ pace of ‘decryption’ (their walking speed from one display to the other) rendering the whole process kind of futile.

** In what I’ve seen of your work, there’s often been an undercurrent of violence, that’s perhaps not so explicitly referred to but its presence is keenly felt. Much like the excerpt you’ve shared with us here, where the perspective of the frame could be as likely that of an insect or a drone — not mentioning the contemporary folklore that cockroaches, as featured in Sazarus IV, could survive a nuclear apocalypse — is the use of these themes and motifs a conscious decision?

VT: It is absolutely conscious. But I hope that this intensity can transcend beyond a ‘violent’ scenario and connect to viewers on another plane, in which it’s possible to pick out base themes, such as relationships and communication failures. For example, in the excerpted video, a barren landscape is populated by a group of cockroaches and patrolling drones. The video cuts between first-person shots from each group – from the ground and from the sky, looking at each other’s movement. A relationship between the two entities is formed that implies an existence of a symbiotic relationship, one of constant observation and mutual interest. There is nothing violent that happens between the two groups outside of observing each other, but nevertheless there is a sinister thread that runs through the video, setting up a tension isn’t really alleviated.**

Viktor Timofeev’s If I could go to sleep, would you count the hours? (SAZARUS IV) is on at Leicester’s Two Queens, running March 3 to May 23, 2017.

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Introducing the Vaporents exhibition with a mix for aqnb

30 June 2016

“The transversal experience of negotiating the dynamic gamespaces of post-digital culture demands a user-erotics of speculation, simulation, puzzle-solving, ceaseless intuition of occult algorithms…” Accordingly, the Vaporents exhibition, running from June 25 until July 3 at Glasgow’s VoidoidARCHIVE, presents new commissions by HKE, Rosen, Viktor Timofeev, and video game designer Porpentine Charity Heartscape, navigating “the mannerisms of intimacy that bind and connect us, to the subsequent capacity to dream, design, and enter into projects of collective rationality through digitally altered states.”

Curated by Dane Sutherland, the exhibition is described as “a multi-reality biome; a post-digital swampscape of bacterial gameworlds, ambient trans-architectures, genetic dreampunk fictions, labyrinthine nanobot industrial-complexes, dirty wifi, and interfaces-interfaces-interfaces-interfaces…”. A press release begins with the question: “A dank enlightenment is gaming your bones. What do you do?” The inquiry resembles the beginning of Rosen’s PORTALS project, a transmedia narrative that zigzags between game and literature —the latest instalment of which constitutes part of Vaporents itself.

Here, however, inquisition extends equally over the “dream-music of HKE, the crypto-logics and nanobot anxieties of Viktor Timofeev’s complex gameworlds… and Porpentine Charity Heartscape’s negotiation of private space and intimate encounters revised by liquid-wifi connectivity and internet lossiness”. Collectively, Vaporents deals with “the pathogenic inter-evolution of post-human experience and multi-reality network environments”, exploring the “speculative navigational resources required of digital natives immersed in the hyper contextual virtualities of a post-continuous present”.

In an exclusive mix for aqnb, Sutherland offers a glimpse at “tempestuous techno-environmental conditions and moist media ecologies”, re-oriented and re-calibrated, featuring tracks by Timofeev, Rosen and HKE, alongside associated artists such as Recsund, Magic Fades & Soul Ipsum, チェスマスター, Windows 98の, Cru Servers, Black Zone Myth Chant and DJ Yo-Yo Dieting.**


Viktor Timofeev – Pan Humanna / Nick Land – Meltdown
E▲ ▓F D▓G§ – Imagine Cerberus as a Giant Mermaid
Magic Fades & Soul Ipsum – Dropcrotch Causality
Magic Fades & Soul Ipsum – Circadian Riddim
Black Zone Myth Chant – My Glory Will Be to Sing Eternal Law
DJ Yo-Yo Dieting – Dormant Mirrors II
Arca – Anaesthetic
recsund – STING GOOSE
Rosen – P_OST_Mem
チェスマスター – デメテル
Windows 98の – スレノディ 建物が落ちる
HKE – Spiral **

The Vaporents group exhibition is on at Glasgow’s VoidoidARCHIVE, running June 25 to July 3, 2016.

Header image: Viktor Timofeev, SAZARUS II (2016). Performance view. Photo by Dane Sutherland. Courtesy the artist.

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Joey Holder + Viktor Timofeev, Lament of Ur (2015) exhibition photos

14 June 2016

Karst, a contemporary art space in Plymouth, presented a two-person exhibition featuring works by Joey Holder and Viktor Timofeev titled Lament of Ur, which ran from November 18 until December 12, 2015. The two separate practices came together to create a dystopian environment that transforms the white-cube space into a dark organism that caves in on itself. Combining sculpture, prints, video, a mural painting and other appropriations like computer games and industrial fencing, the space becomes an urban territory that meditates on themes of the post-human, entrapment and conspiracy.

Without drawing attention to the artists’ individual practices, the show favours the synergy that happens through collaboration, welcoming a cross-contamination of authorship. The press release focuses on this aspect of the show:

“The complexity of their differences called to question the current assumption that they evolved from a similar point of origin. There was suspicion that something else was at work, which involved a highly specialized and self-assembled alchemy.”

Timofeev’s practice is invested in utopia/dystopia fictional worlds and the blueprints that create them, and Holder explores the natural and biological within digital fields.**

Exhibition photos, top right.

Joey Holder + Viktor Timofeev’s LAMENT OF UR was on at Plymouth’s Karst, running November 13 to December 12, 2015.

Header image: Joey Holder + Viktor Timofeev, ‘Lament of Ur’ (2015). Installation view. Courtesy of Karst Contemporary, Plymouth.




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Viktor Timofeev @ Jupiter Woods, May 7- 28

5 May 2016

Viktor Timofeev is presenting SAZARUS I, a solo exhibition at Vienna’s Jupiter Woods, opening May 7 and running to May 28.

The exhibition will be the third at the Austrian-based extension of the artist-run space, first founded in London, and it will comprise two distinct components. In the main gallery space will be Timofeev’s site-specific installation, which —like his earlier Proxyah series of exhibitions —will most likely evolve into different iterations in the future.

Timofeev’s practice spans across vinyls, zines, cassettes, self-published graphic books and has contributed to publications like The Limited Collection and B-Pigs BerlinHe is also currently showing work in the Jupiter Woods-organised Longshore Drift group exhibition in Helsinki that looks at geological processes and sediment transportation, project as a bridge.

In addition to Timofeev’s solo show there will also be a film installation featuring a collaborative video work by Georgie Nettell and Morag Keil showing called ‘The Facism of Everyday Life’.

See the FB event for details. **

Viktor Timofeev, Proxyah v2 (2015) @ Jupiter Woods. Exhibition view. Courtesy the artist.
Viktor Timofeev, Proxyah v2 (2015) @ Jupiter Woods. Exhibition view. Courtesy the artist.
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Plural Melts @ Yvonne Lambert, Feb 20 – Mar 5

22 February 2016

The Plural Melts – Dunmore Caves group exhibition is on at Berlin’s Yvonne Lambert, opening February 20 and running March 5.

Organised to run at the gallery throughout 2016, Plural Melts is an intermittent programme of events and performances arranged by artists Zuzanna Ratajczyk and Eoghan Ryan. Dunmore Caves features works by Stephan Backes, Jassem Hindi, Clemence de La Tour du Pin, Andrzej Ratajczyk, Antoine Renard, Daniel Shanken, Andrew Munks & Richard Sides and Viktor Timofeev. 

There is limited information given with Dunmore Caves, apart from a poster that the gallery have posted in the Facebook event, which outlines a conversation between Darth Vader and a canteen worker -as imagined in Eddie Izzard’s mind.

On February 20 at the opening event, Backes and Timofeev performed in the space and this coming Saturday 27, Hindi and Shanken will perform. It will be interesting to see how these artists, not all of whom necessarily have performance-based practices, will be brought together in live pairings and moments across the event.

See the Yvonne Lambert event page for (limited) details**

Zuzanna Ratajczyk, Pureness, performance still (2015). Courtesy Import Projects and the artist
Zuzanna Ratajczyk, Pureness, performance still (2015). Courtesy Import Projects and the artist.
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Joey Holder + Viktor Timofeev @ Karst, Nov 13 – Dec 12

12 November 2015

Joey Holder and Viktor Timofeev are showing a collaborative exhibition, LAMENT OF UR, at Plymouth’s Karst Gallery, opening on November 13 and running from November 18, running to December 12.

Questioning the scientific assumptions of our individual and collective beginnings, the duo suggest that there is “no linear travel through space around the surface of a planet”.

Through a range of media this exhibition asks what past and what futures (what timescales) are possible if we question any singular point of origin.

See the FB event page for details.**

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2​nd Skin (2015) exhibition photos

13 October 2015

“They said we’d perfected a second skin”, reads the press release written by Dylan Aiello for Emmy Skensved and Grégoire Blunt‘s 2nd Skin exhibition, which ran between June 25 to July 5 at 8eleven in Toronto. Aeillo writes as though taking a shower with a second skin. The steam and the water “bead off”‘ the “‘epidermal envelope” –it is self-cleaning: “self-regenerating” instead. The end of the words comes with a heavenly moment – thoughts in the shower –when the person with the second skin says they ‘never, ever’ expected to react so well to the anti-rejection drugs. Ahh.

The whole room is bright white, its atmosphere “2.22 μg/m³ nicotine and 0.71 μg/m³ caffeine”.

Skvensed and Blunt presented a digital animation work called ‘eStamina’ (2015), related to the February exhibition of the same name, and surrounded by the aforementioned caffeine-infused fog and nicotine. You can barely make people out in the space from 8eleven’s Facebook photos, sat within the atmosphere: a mix that straight away floats into your head as something intensely addictive, although nicotine does also come in antidote form. The video is comprised of different chapters –like “Chapter Y: YAG LASER”–that go with subtitled texts from several writers and artists such as Bixy KnocksAntoine Renard, Emma Siemens-Adolphe and Viktor Timofeev. One moment Knocks’ text describes, “a distant call to revert to a far earlier reptoid state”. The second skin is the skin we have now, and there is no antidote.

French artist, Clemence de La Tour du Pin made a new fragrance of rubber, metal and Red Bull (‘Untitled’, 2015). The little vials were held onto the walls and windows with see-through bath/shower rubber suckers. Visualise->Actualise made a work called ‘2nd Skin eBook’ (2015), a series of silicone and USB packaging pieces that line up along the wall, all their insides vacuum-packed up against their outside. **

Exhibition photos, top right.

Emmy Skensved and Grégoire Blunt’s2​nd Skin exhibition was on at Toronto’s 8eleven gallery, from June 25 to July 5, 2015.

Header: Clémence de La Tour du Pin, ‘Untitled (Redbull, metal, rubber)’ (2015). Install view. Courtesy 8eleven, Toronto.

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Joey Holder @ Channel Normal, Jul 10

7 July 2015

Online exhibition space Channel Normal invites another artist to exhibit digitally, this time bringing in UK artist Joey Holder for a solo exhibition titled Proteus, launching on July 10.

Holder, who was a recent finalist for the Converse/Dazed Emerging Artist Award, follows in the footsteps of a series of solo digital exhibitions launched by Channel Normal, including recent ones with Viktor Timofeev, Sterling Crispin, and Lawrence Lek.

With Proteus, Holder is exploring environmental “metagenomics”, or the study of genetic material recovered directly from environmental samples, as well as, according to the exhibition’s press release, “microbiome analysis, ecological remediation, self-monitoring, self-sensing, sense tracking, DNA molecular replacement for silicon microchips”.

See the Channel Normal website on July 10 to view the exhibition. **

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Business As Usual @ Turf Projects, Jul 9 – 30

7 July 2015

Turf Projects opens up a massive exhibition exploring how artists network and market themselves with Business As Usual, running at the South London space from July 9 to July 30.

Looking at self-marketing, often thought to be a dirty practice in the art world and one at odds with the romantic vision of the “authentic” impoverished artist, Business As Usual invites one hundred of them to explore this “almost performatory element of their practices” in the second of a series of exhibitions traveling throughout the UK.

The exhibition, organised by Perce Jerrom, includes the works of artists like Gabriel BirchViktor TimofeevMat Jenner, Julia Crabtree & William EvansPierre Clément, and Eloïse Bonneviot, as well as a programme of events, workshops, and talks.

See the exhibition page for details. **

Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 10.02.29 PM

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Viktor Timofeev @ Channel Normal, May 12 – 28

11 May 2015

The final downloadable version of Viktor Timofeev‘s Proxyah game will be ready to be played in your own home, released through the online exhibition space, from May 12 to May 28.

Timofeev’s game was previously installed at Riga’s kim? Contemporary Art Centre while it’s second version was appeared at London’s Jupiter Woods (which we reviewed here). The third and final edition of the game was finalized during Timofeev’s artist residency at Vilnius’s Rupert this April.

This game’s final iteration, built in Unity 4,  contains an original soundtrack composed by recsund, as well as a text by Monika Lipšic, and a complete guide (PDF). 

See the Proxyah page for details. **


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