We had the good fortune of connecting with Matthias Dörfelt and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Matthias, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
I am in my thirties now and my work life balance is in a better place than it was back in my twenties. Back then, I spent all my time becoming better at whatever happened to be driving me at the time: design, typography, programming, art. I’d dedicate almost all my energy to the topic that peaked my interest, sometimes losing sight of the bigger picture. Over the years, I started to do things just for fun. Music, dancing and DJing was most likely among the first things in that regard. While that tapered off a little bit, I still love House and Techno and everything it stands for. My wife Erika and I have a dedicated music/DJ room at our place to play records. These days my biggest hobby outside of work is bouldering and climbing. I got into it about six years ago and it is easily the biggest time-suck and life-balancing distraction from making art. During covid, it has been especially helpful in keeping my sanity. Art is a field where work/life boundaries tend to be blurry so it really helped my mental health to pick up activities that are clearly separated from it.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I mainly work in software producing artifacts ranging from drawings, paintings, prints, animation, videos and interactive installations to robotics. I often trade control in favor of surprise because I strongly believe in computation as an expressive, playful and humorous tool. I like to describe my practice as instruction based art through the lens of drawing, computation, technology and automation. A lot of my works from the last couple of years such as Block Bills and Regurgitating are fully procedurally generated. This means that I have written custom software that then generates a certain visual composition or animation automatically. While I am not the only artist doing this, I think my work stands out for maintaining a sense of human gesture and my artistic hand, despite being entirely generated by a computer program. Recently, I have been shifting my focus more towards painting and physical object making by combining digital processes and instruction based strategies. I always thought of the programs that I write as artistic extensions and collaborators. Concepts aside, it feels great to have a balance between sitting at a computer and physically creating things. I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of what’s possible in terms of mixing algorithmic and digital with analog strategies, so I am really excited to explore this further next year.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
On our first day we sleep in. After breakfast we decide to go climbing. We hit up Stoney Point and spend the rest of the day top-roping and bouldering, catching up what has been going on in our lives along the way. We reminisce about gallery hopping in LA to grab as many free beers as possible back during grad school days. We cherish the good times and drinks we had at the Prince and HMS Bounty in Korea Town back then. The next day we pick up breakfast burritos at Taqueria Los Anaya in Mid City. We take them to my studio in Frogtown and eat them at the table outside. They are delicious! You will most likely be visiting from New York and realize that LA has the best affordable peasant food after all. I show you what I am working on and bore you with some of my self doubts about the future and sustainability. It feels good to get it off my chest, though. We go for a walk along the LA river and grab a coffee at one of the hipster coffee places that are clear signifiers of the impending gentrification that will only get worse once covid is over. We discuss the subject, somewhat helplessly being aware that we are part of the problem. Since everything is closed, we decide to hit up Angels Point in Elysian Park to get one of the best views over the whole city and chit-chat about the last time we went to a Dodgers game at the stadium below us. That night we hang out mixing records at home. We remember the countless warehouse raves we enjoyed throughout the city and realize how far out in the future the next proper rave will be. We decide to drive out to Joshua Tree the next day to spend the rest of the week climbing, hoping for a better future.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I always had mentors and people that I looked up to. Shout out to all my mentors from grad school days at UCLA and specifically Christian Moeller who I work with on public art projects. Last but not least, I’d like to thank to my lovely wife Erika. We got married in September and it has easily been the highlight in an otherwise bleak year.
(climbing photo) Wilm Thoben All others are taken by me.