Creation in Isolation: Q&A with Amir Bahador Rostami
Amir Bahador Rostami is a multidisciplinary artist in the Digital Media program at York University. In a collaboration with his sister Elahe, a Masters student in Computational Arts, Rostami recently exhibited an original work at “Remote Realities”, which is an artist-in-residency program hosted by Trinity Square Video and Dames Making Games. In his time at York, he has gained rich experience in digital media making and had professional opportunities come his way. We talked with him about it:
AMPD: Tell me about the opportunity at Remote Realities.
Amir Bahador Rostami: Remote Realities was an open call for projects with focus on the ideas of isolation and new ways of communication during the disruption caused by COVID-19.
This project was a collaborative work between me and my sister, Elahe Rostami. We came across the call completely by chance and after reading the call description, we felt it would be a great platform for us to explore this project idea. The inspiration for this project came to us as we were in lockdown and experiencing the grief and solitude of self isolation. Drawing on what we explored in what ways we could create an environment to explore those ideas.
Elahe Rostami installing Ephemeral Pulses of a finite scroll
AMPD: What was it like working with your sister?
ABR: Working with my sister Elahe was an amazing experience, it wasn’t short of any challenges but it was an opportunity that required both of us to step up for the challenge. The opportunity to exhibit Ephemeral Pulses of a finite scroll was a huge thing for both of us.
I have experience doing exhibitions both in school and outside before, however this was the first time that I was working on a personal project instead of being part of a bigger studio team and working for an Artist. Doing this with her was a great moment to see how both our professional views can complement each other. The context of this work stemmed a lot from our experience of going through a pandemic, the struggle of communicating and the stress of this new reality that we were dropped into. The technology behind Ephemeral Pulses of a finite scroll was developed as part of a different idea and then it branched to be contextualized within this project.
AMPD: What opportunities are arising in Digital Media from the pandemic?
ABR: I believe as this pandemic happened people realized the importance of digitizing certain aspects of our lives. This phenomenon gave us a new perspective to look at. By moving a lot of our work and communication online, we saw its repercussion both on our environment and in our public health state. This huge shift creates huge opportunities for both development and maintenance of these platforms.
AMPD: Tell me about the Internship Program run through Lassonde.
ABR: I had such a blast during my internship, I got to work with a group of amazing researchers based in university in the Netherlands. I had the chance to live in Europe and experience living abroad, while I learned how to run independent projects from the ground up.
AMPD: So exciting! What was that like?
ABR: The Netherlands was amazing, such a beautiful country with even more beautiful people. Everyone is super friendly and kind. I was living in a small town called Enschede on the east side of the Netherlands very close to the German border. I was an intern within BMSlabs, which was a research lab within the behavioural sciences department in University of Twente. I provided support to Master and PHD students, creating custom software solutions for their experiments. Most of the projects I worked on were Virtual Reality based. One of the projects that I’m really proud of is a VR driving simulator with eye tracking. A group of researchers were investigating the effects of moving the side mirrors of cars to a different place and wanted to measure the implications of this change.
I feel so much more confident in my expertise by working there.
Amir Bahador Rostami working in a studio
AMPD: How would you describe your portfolio today vs. when you first began at York?
ABR: My portfolio was technically non-existent before York, I had some knowledge in programming and some knowledge in visual arts but not even close to where I am right now, both in technical terms and in my artistic expression.
AMPD: Why do you think it is valuable to get a cross-disciplinary education in both Arts at AMPD & Science at Lassonde?
ABR: For me it had a big significance, because I am very artistic and creative person and learning the technical skills that is part of computer sciences gave be backbone to create. I’m able to express my creative ideas in very new ways and opened so many doors for me both in academia and also in personal projects.
AMPD: What are you interested in pursuing after school?
ABR: I have a dream of creating my own Digital Arts studio and collaborating within the field of multidisciplinary art and science. That is my end goal for my career.
Amir Bahador Rostami sits in Person Is A Data Structure, a Digital Media class project