We had the good fortune of connecting with Lidija Kljakovic and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lidija, how do you think about risk?
It is playing the main role in my life and career. I moved a lot since I was a child and I have learned that change always brings new challenges but also opportunities. I see risk as a main driving force. Challenge is the only way to push boundaries, experiment and make something new. If you don’t take a risk you will never discover what could happen. With risk comes also failure, but it is all part of the learning curve that will through time improve your work.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I started my career in Belgrade, Serbia where I got my degree in architecture. I was running a fashion brand there for a couple of years before I moved to Germany, where I worked as an architect. Finally I ended up in Los Angeles, a place where dreams are coming true. I am a co-founder of an experimental transdisciplinary design studio called lifeforms.io. In the studio, we are working with real time simulations made in game engines as a primary format. We are currently developing digital Avatars, a video game and two short animated movies.
I am fascinated with designing virtual characters. When designing a character, the most interesting and complex part is personality. Personality can be invoked through the design of the movement, or by exaggerating some physical traits, but to make a believable character it needs to have its own persona. That can be achieved by not only designing their physical body but their behavior as well. I am using AI to develop behaviors and to infuse my characters with their own identity.
What is really interesting when you think about an artificial character is that it doesn’t have any inherited social constraints. It is pure, empty. They are like empty vessels that we can use to project our desires, expectations and emotions.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Most fantastic thing about LA is that it has so much diversity within itself to explore. We would start our journey through LA with the best oat cappuccino in town that is served in cafe Stories. What makes this place even more special is that it is also a bookstore, where you can get “City of Quartz” by Mike Davis. It is a great introduction to LA’s history and complex politics. After that we would stroll around Echo Park Lake and enjoy the real exotic oasis in the middle of the city. Easy escape from traffic and city noises. For lunch we would definitely go to Grand Central Market in Downtown and have Gai Yang at the Sticky Rice counter. That would be the great introduction for visiting Bradbury Building, filming location of one of my favorites “Blade Runner”. To keep up with the neon lights and futurism, we would move to Little Tokyo, where you can really forget that you are in LA and teleport yourself to Tokyo. Here, you can visit the fantastic Kinokuniya Japanese bookstore, or walk around and check out various pop culture stores that offer toys and collectibles to video games and anime. The end would be walking into the Arts District, checking out the new exhibition at Hauser and Wirth, and ending the day with drinks and dinner at Manuela.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Most recently I have discovered the book Novacene, by James Lovelock. He is a creator of Gaia theory and a big environmentalist. In the narrative, live AI will emerge from the womb of Anthropocene into a new era he calls the Novacene, where the machines and organisms will live in a sustainable, mutually supportive relationship. The Novacene narrative presents an optimistic, design-first alternative to standard dystopian visions of our relationship with AI, and also opens up a possibility that true merging between species of intelligence would be a way to solve the environmental issues of the Athropocene era. “all watched over by the machines of loving grace”.