Nikita Diakur is a Russian-born filmmaker based in Germany. His highly-anticipated project, “Ugly”, has received numerous accolades from the underground art world alongside the world’s current film festival circuit. Diakur is notably known for his disparate, “broken” computer simulations, which embrace spontaneity, randomness and mistakes.
What would you say are your main concepts in your work?
Nikita Diakur: It has to be authentic, real, and direct. I don’t like to cover things up too much. I just try to show things as they are. In terms of content, Youtube and the internet are my main subjects. Also, a lot of cheesy and tech-y things make up some of the elements of the work. It has to be “real.”
A ton of your work is done thru physics & simulations. Are there certain components that you leave up to chance?
ND: The process includes the idea or the story you want to try. Then, you have to work with the computer system who actually has a say in what you’re doing together. The computer is simulating, so it has a random side to them and their workload. In the end, we must both approach each other and bounce the ball back and forth with each other. You give something to the computer and it gives you something back and then you build on top of that. It’s kind of like building together with a software. The computer gives you borders and I myself must give the computer borders when it attempts to be too expressive.
That’s low-key amazing relationship advice.
ND: “In what sense?”
It’s almost like you’re having a real, personal relationship with the computer. You’re giving them your raw emotion and the computer is communicating their constraints and boundaries back to you.
ND: As computers get more power, he/she can accept more & more tasks. They become more like a human.
Are there instances where you feel the computer is directing the art more than yourself? A balance that seems shifted?
ND: I think there are many ways where you can be a part of the work. Sometimes the computer will show you how the final piece will look. With FEST, I took the computer interface and use that as the render…sort of a hardware render. In that sense, the computer actually has a pre-defined look that you can’t manipulate too much. It would be nice if the computer could direct sometimes.
What inspired you to become an artist in this medium — or in general?
ND: I think it’s a huge privilege to be able to do what you want to, to make things; To make stuff out of nothing is amazing. With animation, you’re in a position to basically do your own stuff and have a very individual outcome. In filmmaking, there’s always a big team that can sometimes result in some kind of compromise. So that’s probably why I’m doing what I’m doing.
What inspired you to create your Kickstarter film, UGLY? What were the initial inspirations for that film?
ND: It was an anecdote. For a couple of years, I was desperately looking for an idea. Out of this desperation, I typed in “inspiration” just to look for inspiration. There was this website called inspirational “something” dot com. There was this story about Ugly the Cat. Ugly was super cheesy, kitsch, and short. That was the starting point for the whole process.
What are you looking forward to in the future?
ND: I think it’s always good to develop as a maker, an an artist. I always try to learn new things, so I’m learning more programming and working with a developer right now. We might do a film based on [machine-learning]. I like to do bigger and bigger things, but you cannot plan them usually. It’s always one little step at a time.
Written By: Dev Moore