Who are you?
My name is Higor. I am 24 years old. I live in Curitiba which is the capital of Paraná state in Brazil and now I also take care of a cemetery.
How long have you been making art?
Well, I always liked things that today I can see as art, I believe the beginning was around 14 years old when I started experimenting with analogical photography (something I rarely do nowadays), but at that time I hardly saw it as something artistic, it was more about discovering how photography works, but I have been dedicating myself exclusively to art for at least six years, I believe the beginning was when I entered the university to study Cinema. Most of the jobs I have done are related to Video Art or Cinema, working as an editor or director of photography, but it was at the University where I really dedicated myself to studying art theory, which completely transformed my world view and personality and broadened my vision to realize that art is something very relative and can be seen in all functions performed by humans, for me today even the technique to build something like a computer, can already be seen as something artistic .
Your digital graveyard renders are stunning. What inspired this idea?
Aaah actually this is a funny story, I’ve been experimenting with photogrammetry for some time, something like analog photography when I was younger, creating without much pretense of sharing the creations. But the idea of working with tombs comes from a kind of ghost story I had haha, I’ve always been a very skeptical person about the spiritual world, so one dawn I and a friend decided to jump the wall of my city’s municipal cemetery just to drink inside, after a few hours inside, I was enchanted with all those structures that were created for the dead. a boy came walking towards us in order to ask us for some things, and as soon as we finished “helping” him, he left walking and disappeared in front of our eyes, this was an experience that completely changed the way I see the world and the other side today. After that I started to look a lot about the history of cemeteries, I remember reading in a book something that said something like The man is the only animal that has the need to bury his dead, he established different ways of dealing with death, some moving away and others closer in relation to the corpse, everything is intrinsically linked with the post-death beliefs that were established. With this several ideas came to my mind, as I was experimenting with scans I thought it would be a great idea to take graves, mainly because the cemetery is this place so full of beliefs and energies, sometimes when we are there it is hard to see things with other eyes.
So I returned to the cemetery (when it was open) to make some creations with photogrammetry.
But this was long before hictnunc existed, when I met the site I just found this project filed in my computer folders and thought it would be a good idea to deepen more about the history of cemeteries, their funeral rituals and especially to leave a living memory of those who have passed away here. We are surrounded by the dead all the time, not only supernaturally, but we owe a great deal of all the knowledge that we have at hand today to them.
What is the process for creating a piece?
Well everything starts with visiting the cemetery and choosing a grave. after that I take several photographs of the object, always trying to cover the whole area and have at least one general photo of the object. You can use different tools to create your photogrammetry, like laser scan. In photography I have tried from very small images like from old cyber shots to some dslr cameras. After visiting the cemetery and collecting the photographs I import them into a program called Capturing Reality, which is exclusively made for creating photogrammetry and is very intuitive to use.
After that the piece is practically ready, some I open in Blender to give some touch ups or make some animations, but in general this is the process.
What is your favorite part of the process?
I see my work in two parts, the research and study part, where I go to cemeteries, look for graves, read about the history of funeral rituals and about death, and the second part that is more technical and scientific. For me it is complicated to choose a favorite part because I believe that I managed to join two things that instigate me a lot and that I like to work with. The whole process for me shines the eyes and impresses me.
What are your thoughts on death?
Well, when I was younger death was something that saddened me a lot and thinking about its existence kind of made life meaningless, but as I got deeper into my thoughts I got along much better with it and realized that all the good things in life are only good because sad things exist. Nowadays I see the finitude of life as a driving force . Once I was reading Sculpting Time by Tarkovski and at some point in the book he talks about death as something that motivates life, as he knows he will face death one way or another he prefers to make his life active, so that when the time comes to face death, he gives himself to it knowing that he did everything he could in life.
Anyway, I can’t imagine life without death, accepting it and coming to terms with it made me value even more every moment of life that I experience. Death is not something easy to face, neither our own nor the death of the people we love, but it is certain, the only thing we can do is try to make our moment in life worthwhile.
What do you want the viewer to feel when they look at your art?
Well, I believe that we relate to art based on the experiences we carry with us and that is why each person has a vision and a feeling very different from the other, even when viewing the same work, I love to see where my work can lead each one to have a vision and a feeling completely different, but I believe that my goal is to demystify death. We should face death head on, but not as something frightening, but as something motivating as I said above, understanding the idea of death made me take some control of my life, I wish people could share this feeling and also question all these rituals we create for our lives, like marriage, graduation or even the funeral, understand how important rituals are for our lives, even if they are not based on something rational, realize that all areas of life carry aesthetic choices that are not based on being something necessarily utilitarian, why we choose such figures and such shapes to relate to the figure of death, why cemeteries exist and why they are the way we know them, all of this has a powerful historical basis. When we realize why things are the way they are, we free ourselves from social ties and are able to have a much more honest and sincere view of life.
What adds value to your art?
Oh this is a complicated question, I don’t know what adds value to my art, but I know I have a lot to talk about through it, there is a whole process that is not so fast to produce the pieces and write the contextualization, but more than a numerical value I believe that this project of mine has a great power, I really see meaning in talking about what I talk about, these studies have shaped my life. To understand the ritual processes and the importance for us to say goodbye to a loved one, there are so many interesting things about this, for example, here in Brazil we have the Day of the Dead holiday, where it is common to go to the cemetery and bring offerings to the dead, some even call the necropolis the city of the dead, this shows how we really see there as an eternal morgue of someone who has gone, but this is not a standard, around the world there are different ways of dealing with the same situation, as well as valuing all the knowledge that the dead have left here for us. Sartre says that when we are born, we don’t start from scratch, we always start from where humanity was at the moment we got here, preserving and eternalizing the memory of those who have already been here is something extremely important, understanding where we came from can show us where we should go.
What is a life lesson you wish to teach to anyone reading?
Well for me one of the biggest life lessons I learned in these last times is to always be close to those who emanate love, realize who are the people who really are on your side and put your focus on them, return all love with more love, and if you come across something that displeases you the most important thing is to get away from it and try not to let it consume you, always respect yourself and understand your limits, after all to die you just have to be alive, so we have to really know where we should focus our feelings, to make life a place of security and discovery.
Do you have any creations that stand out the most?
In the beginning my pieces were very simple and I still didn’t have much notion of how to render my objects, what made my creations less solid and being created only through some points, with time I was creating more solid images and with a higher quality but keeping the files with the same size, for sure I like these new pieces much more. But I have a great appreciation for the tombs that have already been abandoned or are destroyed, like OBJKT#305953, because I believe that it is really in them that I am managing to keep a memory alive as I also think that there is nothing like time to shape and transform absolutely everything that is around us, from living beings to a tomb, and with photogrammetry I eternalize a moment of an object on the timeline.
Why did you choose hic et nunc?
It was mainly for the support that new artists had at the beginning of the site, where there were profiles giving xtz to start minting and also for the low price of gas, since minting in eth is something extremely distant for me, due to the high cost we have here because our currency is extremely devalued.
Anyone you want to shout out?
Well I would like to thank my friends who know me since the beginning of this journey, Vitor, Sawaf, Yasmin Sier (@nimsaynada), Alberto Eisenring. Especially Yasmin who always gave me the opportunity to believe in myself and my family who has never been a hindrance to the path I chose and you John for inviting me to this interview and believing in my project, it’s the first time I do this.
You know, I understand that many people won’t understand what I do and won’t see any sense in it. Talking about death is always something very delicate and touches places that almost all of us would like to avoid, from remembering a loved one who passed away to remembering our own death. But I strongly believe that we should face reality, for me one of the functions of art is also to question and put us in places that sometimes are not so comfortable, we should show reality as it is, and also accept the unknown, there are thousands of misunderstood things in the universe, the post-mortem is just one more of them, and there is no problem being like that, for me it just gives an extra spice in life, we still have so much to discover, don’t we? I don’t see any sense in being afraid, after all reality is already here and now happening, whether we want it or not, we just have to decide whether we will face it or run away from it.