We had the good fortune of connecting with Yelena Filipchuk and Serge Beaulieu and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Yelena Filipchuk, why did you pursue a creative career?
Serge and I met living in the Bay Area in 2008. We had both been attending the Burning Man Arts Festival for many years when we decided to work on a project together. Both of us have individual art practices, with Serge’s background being in industrial design and mine in ecological arts. But we are both fascinated by the intersection of science and art—the patterns that appear in nature, particle physics… Math, to us, seems to have a resonant quality that the eye and the heart respond to.
We were learning and watching a lot of videos about the geometry of nature, but one TEDx talk really changed our whole lives. It’s called An Incredibly Simple Explanation for Everything by Garret Lisi. It just really struck us that the fundamental structure of the universe would reveal these geometric patterns and that’s something humans would find innately beautiful.
We started experimenting with laser cutting almost as soon as it became available to the average person, so there weren’t that many resources for figuring out how to do it correctly. It took a lot of experimentation and having the patience to just being willing to sit in front of the laser cutter for hours and hours to refine the process.
Creatively, I think it has always almost felt like a bolt of lighting when we were creating our first early pieces. You’d be working on a new pattern or sculpture for a while and then suddenly you just knew that you had the one! After the early pieces, I feel like we almost created our own geometric language and vernacular to refer to some of these geometries because they really do follow rules and it’s possible to actually visualize the evolution of a pattern or see how a 2D pattern communicates with a 3D form.
There have been several types of evolutions, first in our understanding of geometry. Our very first installation was three platonic solids, which are the most basic, universal polyhedra. From there, we expanded to more complex geometries like Archimedean solids, Catalan Solids, and then to stellated icosahedrons, and now are expanding past classic geometry and creating more representation or abstract forms.
I would say our experimentation with different materials and the evolution of LEDs over the past 5 years have been the most exciting developments to me personally. It’s an exciting process to try something for the first time and have it blow you away with an unexpected result.
I hope that when the public experiences a HYBYCOZO installation there is a feeling of wonder and joy—a sense of amazement at the form, light, and shadow. I hope that they interact with the sculptures with a sense of curiosity and wonder about the geometry of the shape and the meaning of the pattern. I hope in the public sphere, our installations feel like a place of refuge and a place to find some peace in a busy city environment.
We are also working on starting a non-profit focused on Math Art Education called MAE. It will provide resources for educational lessons and opportunities for activities around our public sculptures. We are also working on designing Augmented Reality resources that you’ll be able to access from your phone to enhance the learning experience.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
We are very blessed to have found our passion for public art, not art that can be bought and sold in galleries, but rather art in the public sphere that is designed to delight and spark curiosity in everyone. When we see kids have that spark of curiosity about what this art object is doing in plaza or public space, that is really the reason why we do it. When you see that the world is mutable, that it can be enhanced with artwork in the public sphere, it’s a great reminder that we can create the world as we see fit, in the image of peace and accessibility, with beauty and wonder available to all.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
In LA… we love the Broad, LACMA, a cruise around the art galleries in the Arts District
For nature, we love Descanso Gardens and a hike in Will Rogers
Some favorite restaurants are Tangaroa Fish Market, Camp Pho, Birdie’s, and the Girl and the Goat
Get a matcha at Cha Cha Matcha
Catch the sunset at El Matador in Malibu
Get a drink at Club Tee Gee or Only the Wild Ones
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Our shout out goes to all the scientists, builders, and creatives out there that are working toward showcasing geometry, pattern, form, and proportion in a way that is resonant with the human spirit.