»Would you say that your (artistic) practice is political? If so, how would you describe its political dimension?«
My practice is mainly connected within the realm of digital politics. Somewhere in 2003 I found my way into the Bulgarian open-source community, mainly because of my experiments with digital media. Fast forward two years, and this connection evolved into the establishment of Open Projects Foundation.1 We picked November 1 as our founding date, symbolically following in the footsteps of the founding fathers of the Bulgarian Enlightenment – we were young and idealistic and modesty wasn’t our strong suit. Our focus was mainly on raising awareness about open culture, open and free software, free science and the free sharing of knowledge. We stood for protecting digital freedom and human rights, and held a strong position against patenting knowledge.
Since then I have been strongly connected with popularizing open culture and raising awareness about the copyleft movement and the versatile options Creative Commons give to artists to choose how their work should be distributed, reused, and protected. Through our annual festival OpenFest, we have created a platform where technologists and artists can interact, present their works, and discuss freedom of expression, digital politics, and culture. In that period, in my early 20s, I had the opportunity to meet key figures connected with the open source and copyleft movement, such as Lawrence Lessig and Richard Stallman. Both left a big impression on me. While studying theater at the National Academy for Theater and Film Arts and actively producing music, I started investigating different strategies to incorporate concepts from the open-source movement into my audio-visual and performative works.
In parallel to the Open Projects Foundation and the OpenFest/OpenArt Festival, in 2004 I coestablished another nonprofit organization – VOXX Audio Laboratory2 – solely dedicated to creating an open model for education and free access to a specialized studio for producing computer generated music. VOXX addressed the overall lack of vision of the state universities and state conservatory in the field of electronic music.
The project was present online as a platform of copyleft resources and music competitions, and offline as a shared digital audio studio, including monthly free access to lectures in the field of computer-generated music given by professional trainers. Both organizations share similar values, embracing a different notion of copyright models, community-driven collaboration and authorship, and were cooperating in several projects, including OpenFest/OpenArt Festival.
Since then in my artistic practice I extensively use and produce open-source technologies and I address issues such as digital surveillance, privacy, and authorship. Often in my works, those seemingly abstract issues are personified in very physical, theatrical situations, on the border between installation and performative interventions, where the audience plays a key part in rebuilding the narrative of the artwork and is situated as a coauthor.