Interview // Street Artist Maser and the Olympus Photography Playground

Berlin’s Opernwerkstätten – the enormous space of former Opera workshops here in Berlin — has been taken over by three floors of art installations all sponsored by Olympus Photography to promote their newest release, the OM-D camera. Visitors can rent the OM-D to photograph all of the installations, which have all been designed with creative photography in mind. Optical illusions, light painting, and projections are just a few of the creations that visitors can enter and explore.

We had the chance to speak with Maser, a street artist who designed two of the installations in the Photography Playground. His signature use of color and cheer in large-scale art pieces has made his fame world-wide, from his home country of Ireland, to the US, and now in Berlin. His maze-like structure, “moving together,” is his first endeavor with three-dimensional work. We asked him about the ever-changing world of street art, and why photography is important to his work.

Berlin Art Link Discover, portrait of artist Maser; courtesy of the artist and OlympusMaser – “Headshot”; courtesy of the artist and Olympus, © Maser

Berlin Art Link: What was your brainstorming process with your projects for the Olympus Photography Playground?

Maser: I am constantly thinking and looking to develop concepts, then when an opportunity arrives I apply an idea that would suit best. In this case, it was the labyrinth for Berlin. The creative process is a constant narrative. I’ve accepted that the artist never reaches the ‘ultimate piece’ but we still take this creative journey. This piece is a bookmark of that journey.

BAL: What do you enjoy about creating public art?

Maser: I like to see people react, take notice, and maybe question why it’s there. It especially works in public space because it doesn’t belong there. Space like the Olympus Photography Playground is different, because people come expecting to see art, so I like the idea of narrating their movement by creating an art environment. The piece only has its true purpose when people engage with it and within it.

Berlin Art Link Discover, Art Work by Maser; courtesy of OlympusMaser – “moving together” (2014); courtesy of Olympus, © Maser

BAL: How do you think the world of street and graffiti art has changed since you began making art?

Maser: It’s very different now, but that could be because I’ve changed too. It was a lot simpler when I started — you wrote your name on a wall, in as many places and as stylized as possible. It was a hobby then, taking up more and more of my time until I realized that I’m an artist and ‘this is what I do. This sub-culture has become something much bigger than I could have imagined, I feel blessed to be a part of it. Exciting times are ahead.

Berlin Art Link Discover, Art Work by Maser; courtesy of the artist and OlympusMaser – “Infinity Island” (2014); courtesy of Olympus, © Maser Infinity Island

BAL: How would you describe your relationship to photography and what made you decide to work with Olympus?

Maser: Photography is essential. Because I work mainly in the public space, anything can happen once I leave the piece. It’s exposed to the elements. Sometimes the photo becomes more precious than the piece. 95% of my outdoor work from over the past 16 years no longer exists. All I have is the photo.

BAL: You do a lot of collaborative work and have even designed an album cover and clothing for your own fashion label. Is there a certain material or medium that you wish to experiment or work with next?

Maser: Yes, I work with wood and paint a lot, next will be projection, moving graphics within an environment and add sound, to cover all the senses. I love the idea of the viewer being immersed in the art and becoming a part of it.

As we speak, I’m working on a large outdoor installation in Arkansas, a space where spoken word poets, musicians etc. can use the space as an outdoor stage to perform. After that, I’m off to Copenhagen to create another labyrinth piece, but outdoors this time, at Roskilde Music Festival.


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Additional Information

OLYMPUS PHOTOGRAPHY PLAYGROUND
Exhibition: Apr. 10 – May 25, 2014; 11am-8pm daily
Free admission
Opernwerkstätten, Zinnowitzer Straße 9 (click here for map)

More information about Maser:
maserart.com

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Blog entry by AJ Kiyoizumi in Berlin; Friday, May 08, 2014.


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