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Standing at the intersection between the physical and the virtual, the real and the digital, Johanna Invrea creates conceptual works defying the boundaries of that we can see, touch, perceive, and feel. Originally interested in video – from video art to VJing –, her practice has evolved and expanded into fashion and sculpture. Collapse and contamination are two main pillars in her creations, which aim to reach a computer graphics utopia.
Originally from Munich (Germany), you’re now based in Italy. What was your journey to becoming such a future-forward, visionary artist?
I studied art in high school and Industrial Design at university in Italy. In the post-graduation, I started exploring video, VJing, music video and video art. In the beginning, I was mostly visually obsessed with landscapes: natural forms were constantly mutated by digital interactions and so I got into glitch aesthetics. Still today, rocky textures are fundamental in my work. Bodies were a later investigation and also an obsession.
You’ve mentioned that you explore the intersection between real and virtual atmospheres and their point of collapse through a specific focus on the human physique. For that purpose, you blend video, digital art, computer graphics, photography and sculpture. How did you come up with this creative and distinctive approach to art? What were your references and inspiration sources?
The thing is to create a constant ambiguity between worlds. This also happens in photography: some elements of the costumes are real, others are added in post-production maintaining the texture and colours of the real elements. I was influenced by several worlds: David Lynch’s surrealism, the aesthetic of some movies like Cronenberg’s Crash, Iris van Herpen's material abstraction but also a lot comes from what I see online.
You talk about the crossing between the real and the digital worlds and their point of collapse. What is to you the border between the real and digital, and when do you reach that specific point?
The contamination of these worlds, the digital poltergeist of a more than real reality. The point of collapse is the singularity that connects them, the parthenogenetic development of a new reality.

What is for you the most captivating aspect of the ‘computer graphics utopia’ and its relation with the real world?
I like the idea that we can escape the concept of reality through computer graphics and by constructing thousands of new planes of reality. This is the most interesting aspect to me.
You once said: “Digital aesthetics are a very effective means to sublimate reality and create depth on a surface. Digital sculptures become reality and vice versa.” How do you manage to modify the digital world with the world we are living in? How deep do you think the connection with the digital world can be?
I often think about the constant ambiguity between the digital and the real worlds. I realised this watching the process of copper’s reduction and glaze while I was working on some sculptures at Bottega Vignoli in Faenza, which allowed me to make some effects on clay that I was trying to achieve digitally. Here, too, contamination is fundamental.
You are busy with constantly creating new and personal visual interpretations of otherworldly digital sculptures that fit into your computer-graphic utopia. Can you tell us more about that particular world you create?
I was looking at one of the first clay sculptures I did while I was working on some digital projects. I could see in the sculpture some features of Boccioni’s masterpiece Forme uniche della continuità nello spazio, and from there I began to explore the jagged and uneven surface, developed in space and beyond the limit of the material. My sculptures are often based on minimal and precarious surfaces. The breaking point is always nigh. Right now I’m working on a clay armour, the idea is that it can be worn and at the same time it supports itself when it isn’t.
You have a specific focus on the human physique. “I take pictures of them and I digitally destroy their bodies and faces, creating material hybrids”, you once explained. Why do all of your digital creations have such a close correlation with the human body? In what way does the human body influence your work?
The human body is the animated form we know most. I believe it is aesthetically fundamental to animate places, to show their spatiality through the knowledge we have of it or through our own dimension. I’m working on the mythological aspect of bodies, their mutation into something else while still looking human, changing them through metamorphosis and visual deceptions.
“I think we live in a time where the border between what is real and what isn’t is not clear or dogmatic at all. The border must actually be continually exceeded. Consciously or not”, you also said. Where do you feel the future is heading to, regarding digitalisation?
It is uncertain whether the digital could take over our inherent nature and mutate us into something more connected to aesthetic than nature. I can see some threads already at work. I can see the digital looming over nature as an ubiquitous drone monitoring our reality, spying on our secrets and trying to reproduce them into our own original being. Working on the digital is the labour of trying to be ready for such a complex transition, to be good with such a disruption.
Your artworks are all quite open for interpretation. As you describe in a previous interview, “The direction is surreal chaos.” Is there something you would like to change in people’s perceptions? Do you want them to get a particular feeling when looking at them?
I’d like people to be visually injured by the punctum of which Roland Barthes talks in The Light Chamber, a small place which hits the eye and enchants it.

At the moment, you are into underground fashion and you recently finished a project called Metal Wings. How did this project come to life? What is the story behind this project?
The models are three Eurydice from the underworld; no Orpheus has taken them from the flames/underworld but they themselves have struggled to escape. Their armour protects them from the darkness they come out from. I had this idea while I was somewhere with some friends of mine. The three of us were walking into a dark tunnel and I suddenly got the vision, which I tried to reproduce in the shooting.
What role do you think the digital world and its aesthetics will play in the world of fashion? We’re already seeing 3D-printed garments, digital avatars as influencers, etc.
Fashion will be more and more influenced by the digital. The possibilities are wider and fashion more reachable. I hope the digital can eventually work on ecological sustainability to produce eco-friendly high-tech materials through research and creativity, enhancing production systems and distribution in that direction.
What is next for Johanna? Are you busy with any new and interesting projects?
Right now, I am working on the Surreal Italy project, an experimental film on surreal landscapes and hidden geological structures in Italy. Then projects related to underground fashion. I'm constantly looking for collaborations, the web overflows with so many interesting personalities, beautiful human beings and cute aliens.
Do you plan on continuing creating digital sculptures or are you also willing to try something utterly new in the future? Is there any software, machine, or technique you have your eyes on but that is still hard to have access to?
I would like to reduce the gap between the creation of digital and real garments. I want to go deep with ceramics esoteric techniques with metals and I am working with my friend @_vvxxii on polymers, trying to create ambiguous visions and ‘more than real’ realities.

Tamar Gerrits
Francesca Ferrari
Bysanz and Alessia Gunawan

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