Emilia Nylén is currently studying an MA in Photography: The Image and Electronic Art at Goldsmiths, University of London. The featured works are taken from her project Tvillingsjäl (2014).
“My twin sister lives 1757 kilometres away, one hour ahead (GMT +1:00). When we talk on Skype space and time changes; morphing into a temporary cyber-space. This is where our tvillingsjälar reconnect.
She looks like my sister and most of the time sounds like her too. But when her voice glitches I am reminded that I’m talking to a computerised version of her; on the internet anyone can be watching and paranoia seeps in. I can only touch her with my eyes; the screen is her skin. My only sensory tools in front of the screen are my eyes and ears. It takes practice to be able to reconnect when sensory information like touch and smell is not there.
I constantly remind myself that she is a projection of pixels. When the image of her goes out we are back in our separate places. This sudden and abrupt disconnection always comes as a shock, it works as a reminder of the physical void that is always there.”
Emilia Nylén grew up in a small town where standing out from the crowd was considered strange, a strangeness she felt attached to… Art was her favourite subject at school, and at age fifteen her interest in photography led her to develop her first black and white film, which she describes as a “magical experience”. Having had the opportunity in high school to experiment with different art media, photography became a firm favourite due to it being simultaneously relatable and mysterious. Emilia considers the mysterious element of photography to have a similar appeal to abstract art or a non-conclusive ending of a film. At the age of eighteen her ambition was to have her own solo show, a dream that was realised in 2009.
Emilia completed her degree in Fine Art Photography at the University of Gloucestershire, which provided her with an excellent foundation upon which to develop her own work. She describes it as a “huge confidence boost”, and highlights the importance the course placed on employing photography as an artistic tool rather than a commercial one. Nonetheless, Emilia considers the importance of formal artistic training to be subjective, as she believes there are artistic qualities that can’t be taught. On whether formal training is necessary for success, she considers: “Artistic work doesn’t necessarily lend itself to being ‘successful’, but maybe instead informative, eye-opening, revolutionary or unconventional. Is that successful?”
Emilia’s practise has been informed by artist and theorist Rosa Menkman, whose Glitch Studies Manifesto she often re-reads for inspiration. She considers Menkman’s ideas to break up conventional structures about technology, opening up a world where flaws are embraced. Penelope Umbrico’s investigation into screen life is another influence, Emilia admires her ability to make the audience assess their activities in internet environments. Another artist Emilia holds in high esteem is Matthew Brandt; she admires the tactility that manifests in his prints.
The sheer volume of happenings in London was at first somewhat overwhelming for Emilia, but she now feels settled. The financial pressure of living in the city has the potential to restrict, but Emilia takes a positive from this situation: it forces her to find new ways to be creative. Studying at Goldsmiths has introduced her to a broader range of image-making, particularly when it comes to new software. The experience has left her feeling more free creatively, as rather than being restricted to certain techniques, she creates them as she goes along. The method of teaching at Goldsmiths makes her feel that anything is possible and that she should continue to challenge herself as an artist.
Exhibiting her artwork is something Emilia would like to continue doing, but she is also keen to experiment in other fields such as cinema. She aspires to work in the arts in some way, to be paid to work in a field she loves and specialises in would be ‘a dream come true’. While sometimes this dream feels reachable for her, other times it feels distant due to the current economic climate. The new work model for many artists seems to be doing several different things part-time, which Emilia predicts will most likely be the path she eventually takes. When imagining the future, Emilia places the highest importance on enjoying life, rather than chasing after a career.
Keep up to date with Emilia’s projects at www.emilianylen.com
All images and videos featured in this article are the intellectual property of Emilia Nylén.