Researcher, media artist and musician, Salar Niknafs lives and works in Melbourne, Australia, where he has completed his Doctoral of Philosophy in Science at The University of Wollongong for which he was awarded
All beings seem to have emerged from non-being - a state of "pulseless blur" - that spreads further than time and space. This observer-relative realm of pure possibilities can be imagined in multiple ways and different meanings can be ascribed to it. - S. Niknafs.
Salar Niknafs is a researcher, media artist and musician living and working in Melbourne, Australia. He has completed his Doctoral of Philosophy in Science at The University of Wollongong for which he was awarded a Discovery Grant from the Australian Research Council. Salar Niknafs in these last ten years has received several honors and awards, and his work, as researcher and artist, has been presented internationally in different contexts such as conferences, workshops, music venues and exhibitions including Life-Framer Rome, CLIP Award finalists' exhibition, CSSCR conference Stockholm 2013, PF09 conference Aachen 2009, ARNAM/ARCNN joint workshop Adelaide 2010, and Materials Austceram international biennial Sydney 2007.
Salar's work is an expression of the vision that he has of art and science, two disciplines that have always been linked, as the artist says. The research of his general work can be summarized as an exploration on concepts and methods at the intersection of art and science in an attempt to act as a mediator between the two.
The series entitled "Absence", from which the five photographs present in LoosenArt have been taken, can be defined as the continuum of the previous series entitled "Presence". These are works in which Salar begins a searching of the relationship and the perception that man has with the space he occupies, where the "presence" of new forms, is an occasion for a reflection on the world in which he is immersed, while the vacuum, the "absence", is an occasion of intimate reflection and introspection, a reflection thus, of an inner world. In this series different images witness a reality where buildings, rooms and landscapes windows' and gaps' appear, as if they were openings in which the viewer is invited to enter into a deeper dimension of the state of things, empty spaces in their being apparently devoid of content, but that at the same time appear as constitutive elements of a given presence.
L.A.: Hello Salar, to start can you tell about yourself? How and when did you become interested in photography?
Salar Niknafs: I’m a self-taught media artist and I engage with a variety of media ranging from photography and video to sound and musical composition. I studied science and worked as a researcher from 2007 to 2015 at the University of the Wollongong in Australia. My field of study focused on solidification, crystallization, phase transformations and how an optimization of these processes can lead to a more environmentally friendly approach to manufacturing.
My first introduction to photography was through my brother in law. Back in 1996 he was a hobbyist photographer and he worked as a biologist at the University of Tehran. I became very drawn to his macro photographs of biological samples. Instantly I bought my first film SLR camera, a Zenit 122. Although it wasn’t until 2005 that photography became a central part of my activities. Perhaps it was my immigration to Australia, searching harmony in the new surroundings, the beauty of Australian landscape or a combination of these explorations that made photography a pivotal part of my life.
L.A.: Can you tell us how your background studies in science has influeced your work?
Salar Niknafs: Art and science both deal with the essential ingredient of creativity and operate through a similar process of curiosity, exploration, experimentation and innovation. So I think they are not essentially separable and their fictitious partitioning is a recent phenomenon so to address the economy-driven need for specialization in the post-industrialized society. The main difference between art and science is that they approach creativity from very different perspectives. Art could produce a personal view, but science must remain impersonal in its interpretations.
Not all of my artworks are influenced by science, but I draw a lot of creative stimulation from physics and mathematics. I’m quite fascinated with orders and patterns that are self-occurring products of nature. I seek and explore these visual and poetic geometries. In my PhD I studied cellular and dendritic arrangements that emerge and self-organize during solidification processes. These natural fractals (similar to the six-fold radial symmetry of snowflakes) are in fact one of the most frequent patterns that nature tends to produce. They appear in crystalline systems such as metallic materials as well as in the living organisms such as neurons of the nervous system.
L.A.: What role does the time component in you work? What is its link with concept of "presence" and "absence"?
Salar Niknafs: Projecting a sense of time is something that I tend to avoid in my photographs. Often I pick afternoons or cloudy days with soft light as opposed to more dramatic times of day, because I find an unspoken truth in familiar and ordinary instances. Time and space are nevertheless central concepts of these two series.
“In Absence” is essentially a meditation on the notion of finiteness, which is our closeness to nothingness. “In Presence”, in contrary, is the product of my fascination with forms, contours and geometries, allowing myself to seek and explore unintentional sculptures, often within isolated natural contexts. It is about the coincidental dimension of encounters that occur between unforeseen objects and desolate spaces.
L.A.: Can you take one of your works from those presents at LoosenArt Gallery and express a personal comment about meanings or concepts?
Salar Niknafs: “In Absence #4”, empty room with a view. I took this photograph last year when I was travelling with my wife and our friends in Iran.
In capturing empty spaces and missing things, I try to imbue the viewer with a sense of intimacy, such that invites introspection. Empty spaces are like blank canvases to imagination in that they await a plot to happen, so they leave unique expectations and interpretations for each spectator. In capturing empty spaces, I also intend to remind the observer that how temporary everything is in existence. We intend to create something to manifest our being, but tomorrow as we experience it can seize to exist too.
L.A.: Are you working on any other projects currently?
Salar Niknafs: At the moment I’m working on a few multimedia projects. I’m also revisiting film photography and experimenting with different types of color-negative 35mm films.
Salar Niknafs www.salarniknafs.com