David Szauder will never abandon art. Through various trials and tribulations, art has remained his North Star. Even with something as relatively rigid as coding, David has been able to express beauty and feeling that touches something many fine artists are unable to connect with. With his Failed Memories series of images, David has brought to life a rich cornucopia of symbolism and narratives that spur nostalgia and inspiration. Artists like David never fail to remind us that no matter the medium, putting forth one’s truth will always have a place in a world where most people are looking for ways to find and define purpose. David Szauder is a fierce catalyst for thought provoking cutting edge unique art that Style.No.Chaser will always revere.
“At that time I was experimenting with generative art, visually nice and very decorative …”
Please tell us a little about yourself – your childhood, siblings, where you grew up, what you liked as a child, strange thoughts as a child/now, unique attributes, where you live now, etc.?
I was born in Hungary, Budapest, in a typical ‘last 10 years of the cold war’ environment, being a really happy, politically less controlled era in the East-Central Europe region. We were labeled by the ex-communist countries as “the happiest barrack in the socialist camp”. The Soviet army was still in Budapest but they didn’t make much trouble, just selling military equipment and guns for vodka. I originated from a small family because many of my family members didn’t come back, and those who came back didn’t want to have a big family in the very unstable situation of the 50-60s. I always yearned to have a big, classically big family, and I always admired old family photos. My father had a small cabinet with three drawers in his room full of photos, and when I was a kid I would sit in front of the cabinet on the floor looking at them for hours. I don’t have siblings but I did have fictive friends, fictive siblings perhaps, who lived with me until my grown-up years (if I am a grown up at all…). When I was young, about 16-17 years old, I dreamed of becoming an artist but I realized that I didn’t have enough talent to paint or draw.
Consequently, I ended up studying of art history, which I started but never finished. By that time I was 20 and didn’t know how to proceed in life. It was obvious that I had the makings of a programmer but I didn’t want to abandon art.
One day I was sitting in the library and reading books on medieval art – something on the sculptures of the early Gothics with enormously expressive decorative elements. I wanted to make a photocopy of this but the machine somehow got stuck and as I was loitering around, I noticed a small bookshelf with a selection of contemporary art books. There was a tiny book there on photocopy and printer based art. I opened it and that was it… But after this I needed two more years to realize that there is a place for guys like me in Hungary. Finally, I ended up in Helsinki at the Media Lab, and I got closer and closer to programming based image creation. At that time I was experimenting with generative art, visually nice and very decorative structures created with code. But as I realized that I can do this and that technically I asked myself: “hey, where is the story, the concept, the feeling, the situation, the meaning?” So I slowly changed the nice structures to errors and digitally imperfect forms. I also moved to Berlin. This is where I live now – my true home.
What does your art mean to you?
Art is my default language.
Your portraits are like nothing we have seen before – how do you describe your style of art, what tools do you use for the creation of your work and how did you create your personal style?
For this I need to jump back in time. As I mentioned already, I was experimenting with computer code generated images. But as a part or constituent of the process I needed something, the thing. A story, a concept, who knows what…. I was really bogged down. I was starting compositions and just deleting them. I was back in Budapest for a holiday and a lot of old family photos were there. It was a moment of splendor. I utilized some older code and with a little more work, created one of the first examples of the failed memories. It was clear that this was the direction for me. Then I had to leave behind the computer and the practical aspects of image creation for a time and think about “the big picture”. I realized how to involve families, fates, memories, etc. And with every composition I got closer and closer to my own family members. I knew that somehow GIL is connected to my grandmother and Mr. Wolf to my paternal grandfather, but I needed more time to realize this. And when I did it I knew that if I put these digital creations into a narrative context, I shall be able to achieve something very strong and important. I shall be able to break out from the docketed digital art, glitch art, digital collage blah, and create my own universe. Finally, but no less importantly, I could get back on track with art and less with technology.
Now I see what I couldn’t see in 2013 when I started this series, that one day I will feel the necessity to leave the technology as much as possible. My next project, in a certain sense the continuation of Failed Memories, is following this direction. I will use super8 film materials of my own family (my maternal grandfather was an amateur filmmaker), combined with narrative and perhaps with some physical modification – a kind of non-computational glitch. But this project is still in an early phase. In the meantime I developed a mobile app which allows you to use your fingers to directly access images and modify them. As a friend of mine told me once, I am like a painter.
If you could use two words to describe yourself, what would those two words be?
How do you balance the creativity of your art and the commercial aspects of making a living?
Well, yes, a good question. I am not living right now on my own art. With two partners I founded a creative agency for urban art, real estate digital marketing, innovation and so on. I run this agency in Berlin and in the meantime, I am an artist. These two activities are not independent of each other, of course, but for the time being they are not directly related.
What is the worst critique you have ever received about your work? What is the best compliment that you have received about your work?
I like critics. An artist friend of mine told me once: David, you are a very good artist, but when you do something, you run away from it. I don’t think it was a fair critique because I still don’t get it. I do whatever I like to do and that’s it. I have gotten a good number of compliments – people write master theses using me as a source of inspiration, and I have received other good praise that are highly important and meaningful for the Failed Memories saga, i.e. the reactions of the people.
Since Style.No.Chaser is a men’s lifestyle magazine, what attributes/items/clothing /etc. do you think define a man?
I like to wear things I prefer. In our society there are no clear cut preferences for men or women. This is quite a contradiction because this was much defined up to the first half of the last century. (Not to mention the feminism movements, which gave a significant leeway to the ladies to wear whatever they want?) Dressing up is a creative activity and if you accept your true self, you will find a way to define yourself. I wear what I like, and those pieces define me.
What is your personal life philosophy?
Well, my personal philosophy is that I do what I do because I like to do that and not because I need to do that and this attitude is a guide to how to survive anything.
Who dead or alive, celebrity or not, artist or not, would you like to go on a two week road trip with and why?
I have not had time to go on holiday with my daughter for the last two summers, so I would choose her assigned as an artist (for me she is a celebrity) …
How can people learn more about your current and upcoming works?
You can check my website which I am upgrading right now. I will be having a solo show in Transylvania soon, a big publication in an art magazine in Germany, and a group show in Argentina (Buenos Aires) and perhaps a solo show in Berlin later this year. I am working on the next generation of the failed memories, shifting focus to moving images.
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