Yana Sakellion


Fragmentation of Knowledge and Spontaneity in Digital Arts: evolution of creative art practice based in technology


As a practitioner of Digital arts I am constantly faced with the challenges of adopting a newer technology, the latest software, a better version of yet another over-design and, often needlessly complex, tool. Because the speed of my experiments as well as their success largely depend on my prior technical experience and understanding of all things computerized, I feel a certain obligation to upkeep my skills alongside the creative endeavors. My situation is by no means unique, and within the discipline it is generally accepted that ‘knowledge is good’ while the ‘lack of knowledge’ is not. Since intuitive and spontaneous explorations lay outside the norms of conventional knowledge, an unproportional amount of time is usually sacrificed towards looking up pieces of code or troubleshooting a corrupted file. Consequently, I question which is such knowledge that contributes to what really matters to me as an artist and a designer – my creative vision. In this presentation I will address the challenges of balancing efforts between mastering the knowledge of technology in Digital Arts, while staking out the territory for an intuitive and organic art making. I will examine how Malcolm Gladwell’s concept of ‘thin slicing’, an unconscious ability to find patters and apply prior knowledge in unexpected situations in a matter of an instant, can be used within the context of the Digital Art-making process. I will also show the relationship of Gladwell’s theory to the practice of surrealist automatic writing and suggest digital tools suitable for similar work models. Then, referencing my own creative process, I will outline their capabilities and limitations in relation to preserving knowledge and promoting spontaneity.


Yana Sakellion was born to a mixed Russian-Greek family and grew up in Uzbekistan, Former Soviet Union. She often takes inspiration in the memories of her upbringing and migratory experiences, longing for the fleeting moments of clarity among chaotic changes and mangled connection. As a designer and an artist Yana works across mediums including graphic design, interactive media, and video. Her practice emphasizes interdisciplinary approaches to making an conceptual inquiry, with special interest in Physical Interface design and Interactive Storytelling. She also traveled excessively between the Former Soviet Republics, Europe and the US, and is fluent in Russian. Yana earned your MFA degree from the Department of Digital + Media at the Rhode Island School of Design, and her work has been exhibited and published nationally. She is currently holding a position of tenure-track faculty in the Graphic Design Department at American University, Washington, DC.