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NEST HQ was created with the intention of being a platform aimed at promoting and encouraging the growth of artists of all genres and mediums. While we’ve worked mostly within music up to this point, we are expanding on a new content series that will showcase multimedia artists of various backgrounds including painters, graphic designers, architects, and others of the sort; this is installation. Every two weeks, we’ll post hand-selected pieces from our featured artists via our Instagram @nesthq, along with excerpts from the full interviews.

This week on installation, we present multimedia artist Nicole Ruggiero.

Can you tell me a little bit about how your story as an artist began?

Yeah, so basically, I got started making digital art when I was about 12. The Internet was always a huge outlet for me because my parents were overprotective and, I don’t know how to say this, kind of a little bit much… I didn’t have the best childhood, essentially, is a good way that I can put this. So, the Internet was a huge outlet for me. I would go online and I would go onto different forums and stuff like that and I started really getting into online art. I asked my dad to get me a drawing tablet for christmas when I was 12 and he got me one. I started using that to draw and make paintings in photoshop, and eventually started posting them on these forums to get critiques. I was kind of just becoming a part of this online community. And, it wasn’t until probably a year or two ago that I realized that the Internet had been a huge influence in my process of creation and in just who I am in general. That’s kind of when I started to make art based off the Internet, which was only a couple years ago. But I’ve been doing digital art since I was about 12.

Oh that’s amazing. I think the crossover, even in the music side, is apparent. I speak with many artists now that got their start the same exact way – learning how to write music and even understand music on Internet forums and then, kind of like, building from there and those communities, you know, within them. It’s really cool to see the crossover in the art world as well.

Yeah, that’s awesome.

I wanted to pick your brain a little bit about the resurfacing of PC art. You know, all the things that Super Deluxe, Susboy, you, and even channels like Adult Swim have been tapping into. I feel this has been going on for many years, ever since the beginning of digital art, but right now resurfacing. You get clashes of really basic rudimentary electronics or dumbed down human forms within these actually really complicated spaces. The process for making this art is actually extremely complicated.

I think a lot of this is based off the limitations of the software. That’s where many of these net art aesthetics are coming from. For instance, the water in some of my animations is very goopy looking. But that simulation took I think probably, like, three hours? These were pieces that I was making in a day’s time, so I didn’t have all day to do them or all week to do them; it was something that I had to do quickly. And so it was kind just like all right, this what I’m going to end up with and, you know, this is how much my computer can handle. I have my own rig that I built, my computer is pretty good. But my work is always limited by the processing power I’m using at that time.

I feel like, going back to music here, it’s almost the opposite; the process of creating music and what a lot of these kids are going through is literally the opposite. Everything is becoming faster and the aesthetic being built is actually more because of the lack of limitations that we now have. These kids have access to all kinds of really high quality software and to really anything that makes the process of creating digital music really efficient and streamlined.

I mean don’t get me wrong, these things are becoming better and better. A few years ago this would have taken so much longer, but I do think the processing power needed to render visual vs. audio content is vastly different.

Big time, yeah. And so how do you relate to the space and its subcultures? I think that a lot of the work that you do really is kind of about these subcultures that you said you grew up in and that you were learning about.

True. I think that as net art becomes larger more and more subcultures are surfacing and I think that’s really cool. I don’t love all of them, and I really love some of them, but I think it’s really cool to see all of these different segments. I’ve been reading Neuromancer and the way I interpreted it is that the world is broken up into a normal population, “IRL” if you will, and then these individuals that can plug into the matrix, “URL”; the people who are on the net as we would interpret it nowadays. And so I kind of view myself as one of those Internet individuals. And I think it’s a whole different type of person, it’s a whole different type of universe, really. I can talk to someone else that I’ve known for a while in real life solely and I’ll tell them, “Oh yeah, I just met this person this weekend, I’d met them on the Internet a year ago and we finally met in person.” I’ll get a reaction like, “That’s so weird,” or “I don’t get it.” To me it’s like these interactions are real. You can establish yourself online as an individual as well as in real life.

Totally, I mean I have friends, for example, that I’ve had for years that I’ve never met, you know. Friends that I’ve met on music producing forums or while online playing video games, stuff like that. And it’s people that I actually think are good friends of mine. We talk every day, we talk about things that we like every day and it’s really difficult to explain that to anyone, even generations close to us. My parents will react like, “What do you mean you have this friend that you’ve never met before?” Haha.

Let’s talk a little bit about Slide To Expose. I feel like most of the virtual reality pieces I’ve seen either missed the mark culturally on what they were trying to represent, or felt heavy handed. But I think Slide to Expose really took me to a space where I was uncomfortable with how much I was relating to it, if that makes sense.

Yeah, so I worked with Molly Soda on that project and I think we were really excited to work together. She actually had reached out to me and asked if I wanted to collaborate And I was like, “Duh yeah” haha. And so we were going back and forth on concepts and I had just gotten back from a trip to East Asia where I’d went to Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Bangkok. I spent a lot of time thinking about the Internet and how the Internet functions and kind of my involvement online. I started to think pretty heavily about digital intimacy and that as a concept. Molly deals with that a lot in her work also and so we got to talking about it and it kind of just developed from there. We decided to set up a bedroom and kind of explore the space that you have online that is normally very private and expose that.

That’s also why we decided to put it in the bedroom; it’s another very private space where you have things that you keep to yourself. We thought it would be really cool to play with that idea and add a pretty heavy mix of nostalgia in there as well. We had a mix of technologies ranging from the ’90s to today. We made a playlist that had a lot of nineties and early 2000s music that was played during the event. We kind of just played with those ideas and allowed people to go around the room and scan different items to reveal these different marks of digital intimacy. As an example, during our installation I made a bed piece. You could scan that, and then see this 3D laptop pop up with a sexual tumblr feed on display. These are kinds of things people are keeping in private online. I wanted to highlight that so many other people do this too. We had a computer screen constantly googling mundane health issues like ear problems or ear ringing. We had this box come up with anxiety inside of it, stuff like that. I think it was pretty successful and I’m pretty happy with that whole exhibition.

I think you guys nailed it. I know a ton of people who have fake Instagram accounts, sexual tumblrs, just completely different, completely intimate sides to them. I think it was fantastic – I really enjoyed it and I think that you guys nailed it!

Thank you, sorry, I just wanted to give a shoutout to Refrakt because we also worked with them and they helped with the development of the app and also in the creation of some pieces.

What are some goals that you have for the rest of the year and for, I guess, 2018 upcoming?

So I think my next big goal for the coming months to a year is to get my first solo show. I’m really looking toward doing that. I’m gonna be making a lot of larger prints for installations and I want to do something involving projection mapping.

Find more from Nicole via Instagram or on her website.