(last edited in March 2018)
I started to document my personal observations into the nature of solitude in the summer of 2014 . I contextualise these observations in two dimensions. One is concerned with how different individuals and social groups deal with solitude by creating a root attachment in the notion of home. In the other dimension I place ideas about the self, in connection with different notions of tribe. The manifestations and mechanisms of introspection are fundamental to this second dimension. I am particularly interested in exploring the connections between solitude and human evolution both at the individual and collective levels.
My art projects start in a way that is similar to the way I initiate my scientific projects. The first step is to get immersed in the topic by gathering and cataloguing information available in any possible format. During this immersion I draw sketches, and write very frequent journal entries that are aimed at giving the unborn project some kind of agency. Sometimes this requires that I study some topics in depth. I admit I can be biased to disciplines I know about: mostly cybernetics, artificial intelligence, and cognitive science. I also put significant effort into studying previous works that address the same (or similar) subjects I intend to explore carefully. This allows me to map uncharted territories, and some times to identify potential collaborators. This initial phase ends when I have a large and diverse body of what I see as elemental building blocks. That is, a network of interrelated atomic concepts.
In the next phase I decide what the story will be about, focusing on how its initial setting is defined, and projecting it onto a set of possible futures. The envisioning and definition of those futures is perhaps the hardest part of this process for me to explain. In almost every case, I add supernatural elements to the unfolding of events that explain how those futures come to happen. It is essential for me that these added elements coexist in perfect harmony with what is generally considered as the ordinary reality. This need stems from my personal interest in futures that are possible. The outcome is a population of competing stories that start in the same way, but that have different endings. I let these stories breath; their constituent parts to recombine and mutate for some time. I may play with artificial intelligence programs I write myself in the work process. Eventually, one of the stories takes over — as the outcome of some form of natural selection — revealing to me the full account of how the original present transitions to the chosen future.
My debut project comprises a series of ‘Lonely Houses’ — digitally altered photographs that often portray vibrantly coloured dwellings standing alone in the backdrop of a pastel, crystalline blue skies. Perhaps one of the most important elements represented in this project is the use of light as a main character: the light I used was meant to touch all other characters at a deep ‘genetic’ level. The goal of this was to speak about the darker rooms in people’s souls by completely putting them out of the picture. Additionally, I often used clouds, antennae, birds and other elements to encode other key parts of the stories, all of which relate to the healing of a soul finding a path to its identity, and connectedness to nature in an universal sense. The debut lonely houses also embodied natural and cultural aspects of the places where I have lived. This translates as the presence of tropical elements brought in from my childhood in Venezuela; or speaks about the influence of Scotland and closeness to the Arctic circle in my early adult life. But above all, the first lonely houses are deeply connected to Portugal, where I live and work.
I am currently working on my second large project, while at the same time working on a smaller ‘bridge’ project. The bridge project expected release is in the spring of 2018, while the second project is scheduled later in the year. This large project deals with the subject of illumination, in the sense of an individual’s attainment of a higher state of the self — an idea that is pervasive in most cultures and religions. The project mixes large-scale, fine art photography with a collection of short fiction stories and poems.
Sejkko Eri is the artistic alter-ego of scientist Manuel Pita. The name Sejkko originates from a Japanese kanji meaning ‘sincere child‘ or ´force of truth‘. The last name Eri makes reference to a fictional character in a novel written within the genre of magical realism by Haruki Murakami. Manuel was born in a Portuguese family of immigrants that moved to Venezuela during the oil boom of the 1970s. He began reading the literature classics of magic realism and contemporary fiction at the age of seven, and showed strong predisposition to maths, science, drawing, painting and sculpture from a very early age as well. Manuel was sent to a catholic school for secondary education at the age of eleven. There, he showed interest for programming languages, logic and computers. Vocational pre-university tests indicated equal abilities and preferences for arts and science. Not finding a suitable degree that suitably integrated arts and science, Manuel chose to study computer science. After completing his BSc degree, he moved to Scotland to pursue doctoral studies in artificial intelligence and cognitive science in the University of Edinburgh. His main research goals were to study the emergence the human ability to represent knowledge explicitly, and to explore the mechanisms of collective information processing in nature, and societies using computational models and mathematics. The pursuit of answers to these research questions eventually led Manuel to doing postdoctoral work in the fields of complex systems, systems biology and more recently in computational social science. During his doctoral and postdoctoral studies, Manuel pursued his passion for photography privately. It was not until 2012 that he started to share his photographic work under the pseudonym of Sejkko, and motivated by growth of new social media channels, particularly Instagram, and mobile photography in general. In 2014, Sejkko organised the first European meeting of instagrammers (instameet) in Lisbon, Portugal. A year later, he was featured as the top creative account on instagram by the Huffington Post. After a busy and stimulating period in social media that included interactions with other artists, Sejkko withdrew to concentrate on shaping the concept of this artistic work, and to complete various credited art educational courses. Shortly after, the first visions of his series of lonely houses started to appear. Since then, Sejkko’s work has been featured regularly in major channels and international news, including Wired magazine, World Photography Organisation, the British Telegraph and The Guardian amongst others. Some of the work that is now part of Sejkko’s debut project was presented in a group exhibit called Concept Home. This exhibition was organised in the spring of 2016 as a satellite event to the architecture Venice Bienale.