Viktoria Modesta | In episode 86 of Light Culture Podcast, Paper Magazine founder David Hershkovits talks with artist Viktoria Modesta about NFT, London undergound culture, and Artificial Intellegence
Called the world’s first bionic pop artist, Viktoria Modesta lives at the intersection of science, technology and the arts, She’s also performed at the Paralympics and been a fellow at the MIT Media Lab. I speak to the one-time fetish nightlife queen about her years at London’s Torture Garden, post-disability sensitivity, Artificial Intelligence, selling a video as an NFT and her friendship with Nadya of Pussy Riot fame.Read Transcript
David Hershkovits (00:00):
Viktoria Modesta has been called the world’s first bionic pop artist. At 20, she chose to have her leg amputated, a procedure that might have devastated someone else, empowered her instead to become the creative force she is today. A multi-dimensional performance and recording artist, her natural beauty and ability to articulate her post disability sensibility have thrust her into the global conversation around how we look at our bodies and develop our full potential as human beings.
David Hershkovits (00:42):
Most recently, she’s made news by selling a video that went viral on London’s Channel 4 back in 2014. She sold it as an NFT. Everyone must check it out for themselves. You can see it on YouTube. It features Viktoria looking fierce in a specially designed spike prosthetic. Though made years ago, that viral video with the tagline “Some of us are born to take risks” is reborn viral once again. At the intersection of science, fashion, technology, and the arts, Viktoria is at the brink of a journey that’s destined to take her on a high tech carpet ride to where no man or woman has gone before. Welcome, Viktoria.
Viktoria Modesta (02:01):
What an introduction!
David Hershkovits (02:04):
(laughs) You’ve inspired me-
Viktoria Modesta (02:05):
It was epic.
David Hershkovits (02:05):
What could I say? You know what I mean?
Viktoria Modesta (02:06):
Ah. Thank you so much. Having it, it, this kind of thing inspires me back. It’s a full loop.
David Hershkovits (02:13):
Let’s talk about that video that, you just sold and it’s in the news once again. Talk about full loop, right?
Viktoria Modesta (02:20):
David Hershkovits (02:21):
You made that in 2014, a very different time in your life, and in the world’s life as well.
Viktoria Modesta (02:28):
David Hershkovits (02:29):
A lot has happened over that years. So, how does it make you feel and do you see that the video looked very different to you now given the time that has past?
Viktoria Modesta (02:40):
Yeah. I mean, you know, it’s interesting because there’s a few things about it. At the time when the video was created, that was a really powerful, quite large team behind it. And everybody’s intention was very strong, in terms of let’s disrupt popular culture. Let’s disrupt what we think of, a popular person on screen doing something that looks like pop. And, even just the way it was launched, it became viral because it was a new story. I mean, who launches a music video as a news story? (laughs)
Viktoria Modesta (03:21):
You sort of try to, and occasionally it makes news, but its, it’s not actual sort of news that something new is happening in here that’s so different. I feel like when it, when it originally came out, the Channel 4 team who worked on it with me. It made such an impact, but I also knew right away, you know, it was meant to be a national campaign. And from hours of it being on an internet, it was up into millions. It was trending on YouTube and so it had this specific, weird, internet magic power.
Viktoria Modesta (04:03):
So, I think from that moment, I knew that there was something really different. And as the years went on and it continued reappearing and being featured in mood boards and different… You see in exhibitions and, you know, everything from disability to design and architecture and fashion. And I just came to understand that the NFT space is a crypto art space forming… I was just, like, wow. This is literally, you know, this piece was made for this energy that is happening within this community of just, let’s create our own wedge You know, spread the weeds and create our own path.
Viktoria Modesta (04:55):
Now that it’s been really fascinating to be honest. To see ‘A’, how much has changed in society when it comes to you seeing someone like myself, you know, differently abled person in this kind of avant-garde art space. But also, how relevant it is and how that video still represents the message and a voice of so many people that are still trying to, create a place for themselves in society. So, it’s been really emotional, to be honest, and quite powerful.
David Hershkovits (05:37):
Body awareness in general, since that was made, has become, such a big subject matter, we see it, almost everywhere, it’s gender, um, for example, body shaming in the fashion world, you know, what is the right body? Those questions that everyone thought they knew the answers to once upon a time.
Viktoria Modesta (06:10):
Oh, yeah. Totally. But, I think it’s interesting, because in that video there is a very, refined and very specific sort of image of me. But, I think that some people who dug around and figure it out, my (laughs) back story realize that is a lot of other weird layers of, you know, subculture, being an immigrant, being pansexual, of being a school drop out. You gotta name it. I feel like it’s the time right now to claim your identity that just seems to be not existing in the canvas of pop culture, which is weird.
David Hershkovits (07:03):
Right, it even questions the concept of identity. Is there one identity we’re supposed to have? It sounds like there are multiple identities.
Viktoria Modesta (07:14):
That. Exactly that. And this is the absolutely most fascinating question right now, where we go into the digital space, the thing that people pointed out about this video was that, I was essentially designing my own physical avatar in the physical world, you know, because the image that I have with that video looks like not something that should be possible in real life, right? The spike leg makes you just feel like there’s some, uh, gravity defying, supernatural things happening somehow.
Viktoria Modesta (07:50):
I’ve explored the idea of future identity and, and how we’re going to extend and multiply you know, there is a invisible tentacles and aura around us that’s just stretching of what it means to be human. Right now, it’s really happening, you know? Like, conversations of, should there be rules, of who you can be online, you know? Can a cool tech bro make a black lady avatar and make money of hers. Is that, fine? Are we going to do that?
Viktoria Modesta (08:32):
It’s exposing the complexity of our inner world. We touch upon it, but we don’t really talk about who we really are on the inside. And I think that this metaverse idea and fact that there are all of these really interesting elements of our identity that just because they’re not physically visible and you can’t touch them doesn’t mean they’re real.
Viktoria Modesta (09:08):
You know, they’re manifesting and they’re becoming really tangible, the whole space is questioning is it real just ’cause you can’t grab it with your hands. And, and that’s fascinating to me.
David Hershkovits (09:26):
You mean in terms of the digital art that’s being sold in the NFTs? Is that something, you’re excited about? Another, sort of cutting edge? I feel like you live on the cutting edge of the cutting edge. (laughs) I, I might have to add another (laughs) one for it. So, it kind of makes sense that you would be in this crypto world, and NFT. Is that all a very comfortable space for you to be in and do you understand it financially as well as all the other possibilities?
Viktoria Modesta (10:00):
I do. I have to say that the last time I felt this comfortable in a space and a feeling of community and a feeling of being able to relate to other fellow people around me was probably when I was in my late teens in London in subculture when I was a cyber punk. And I, you know, I would go to really specific parties and, be in the under current of that and later on being booked with Torture Garden for (laughs) in the background for about 10 years.
Viktoria Modesta (10:43):
You know, I think that there is just a sense that, you don’t agree , and you don’t feel part of how, certain things are valued and how things play out. And of course that kind of vibe has existed for a really long time, you know, that’s why subculture exists. I haven’t really felt it in such a potent, fun way probably, you know, for like 20 years.
Viktoria Modesta (11:19):
And last night, you know, I went to a, a small gallery for an NFT artist, kind of like meetup downtown L.A. and, and it was so unusual ’cause, you walked in and you know people would kind of point out what their avatar is on clubhouse. And you’re like, oh, that makes sense, you know, putting two and two together, and you have this bizarre sense that you sort of know everyone already. As someone who has been around subculture and alternative scenes since my really early teens, I was starting to get quite dated. I was like surely there isn’t going to be a revival of this feeling, like, you’re just in it together and this whole thing is happening. I feel really kind of, hopeful. Whatever it means, I feel like it’s real and there’s just a really intense energy. And, that’s what it is, you know. It’s a queer being ushered into direction with really strong energy.
David Hershkovits (12:36):
Well, your work in the past has been described as dark. So, do you feel like you’re coming into the light now? You know, one other question I wanted to ask you later on, but since we’re here, do you feel yourself an utopian or a dystopian?
Viktoria Modesta (12:51):
Oh. Yeah, I’ve always been soon utopian. So here is a little bit of an analogy that I like to look at art with, right? Is that, um, I mean, first of all, I grew up most of my childhood, in a hospital. That was, that was the grim reality, post-Soviet. And, my escape was Disney, MTV, and Hollywood films. That was really where I looked. And from all of those moments, you know, for better or for worse, through some kind of emotional detachment from my body, I really just so firmly started believing that you just possess the power of architecting yourself, of architecting your life around you, or of influencing things that are formed and ideas that are formed. Ideas turning into objects, and all of that sort of stuff.
Viktoria Modesta (13:53):
And for me what started being really important when I got into my teens, and I became a big fan of Matthew Barney and Alexander McQueen, and it was really that, you know, why is it that all the villains and the kind of evil powers have the most piercing emotional kind of arrow that they put at you, right? There’s this feeling that I have a negative message and I’m going to make you feel it really hard.
Viktoria Modesta (14:33):
It’s like, is it the message or is it the delivery that really actually makes you feel something, right? This is something that I did subconsciously when I was younger. But a little bit more recently, I’ve realized that I want to be aggressively positive. I want to make sure that your field of perception is ready, and open, and alert to receive a message.
Viktoria Modesta (15:10):
And what that message is, you know, it can be a positive message, the prototype video that just went as an NFT, that’s what it is. It’s packaging up the most potent, most deeply felt, human struggle, and shooting it out with, like, a dagger. (laughs). That’s where it’s coming from.
David Hershkovits (15:42):
One of the people bidding on your piece is Nadiariot of Pussy Riot, right? So, and you’re Russian, and she Russian, hey. Is there a connection there? (laughs). A Russian connection? Or is it acquaintance? Or nothing?
Viktoria Modesta (16:24):
Coming across Nadya, from Pussy Riot, has been the most craziest thing and completely the product of where we’re at now with sort of digital connection.I knew of her, we actually, were part of the same event in London many years ago called, Belarus Free Theatre, which was very politically charged about the fact that there’s no art freedom in Belarus and people are literally going to jail.
Viktoria Modesta (17:05):
And, you know, we just so happened to have artwork released on foundation at the same time, so we just met in a clubhouse, (laughs), and we connected, she looked at my work, and when the auction started, like, she just started, uh, she, we met once again in the clubhouse and she placed a bid, live, while we were talking. And was just like, “Let’s go.” (laughs). You know? Let’s just kick this off.
Viktoria Modesta (17:42):
You know, which is just absolutely mind blowing, and as the bids went on it’s like we started connecting. And, of course the Russian connection was there, but, the main thing that we went over in our conversation was this idea that we are both in a very specific niche category of art, where we create social changing messaging with an entertainment quality.
Viktoria Modesta (18:23):
We really mostly bonded over the struggle, and the specific kind of difficulties that we both experience doing that, because it’s a kind of work where your profile is prominent, you know, your work affects a lot of people, and it has a really deep emotional impact on your field. But at the same time, it becomes like a hot potato when it comes to how that work lives in the commercial industry, because not many brands or labels are interested in supporting a woman with a very strong opinions that really represents a cultural statement, right?
Viktoria Modesta (19:19):
Because, people just get nervous, right? They get nervous. Like, brands get nervous supporting something so strong, right? There’s a level of neutrality.
David Hershkovits (19:30):
That definitely is an issue that comes up. They’re a little bit more open, sometimes today, or at least pretend to be when you look under the hood sometimes you realize nothing has really changed. But you did do a piece with, Rolls Royce? That was pretty powerful and seemed to go along with your attitude and ideas, it wasn’t just an appearance or something like that.
Viktoria Modesta (20:02):
Yeah. It happened in some kind of a magical miracle, I was the face of Black Badge Rolls Royce, in 2019. And so one of the important things, you know, with all of the projects that I have done that are more commercial, I mean, just the end of the last year I worked with Spectacles, with Snap Spectacles. And, obviously before that, Channel 4, is that it tends to be somebody in the company, in the organization, that just is a specifically rebellious person that really wants to make a final appearance-
David Hershkovits (20:54):
Viktoria Modesta (20:55):
… and leave a mark on the business.
David Hershkovits (20:57):
Viktoria Modesta (20:59):
David Hershkovits (20:59):
Yeah. We need those people, right?
Viktoria Modesta (21:01):
David Hershkovits (21:01):
Viktoria Modesta (21:02):
For confidentiality reasons I can’t explain the details, but then tends to be the case, and it tends to be the case where that happens, and, I’ve been very lucky. What I’m interested in isn’t kind of sophisticated anarchy. I am very interested in observing the commercial rules, and goals, and values. For me, as an artist, I don’t feel like I’m entirely anti-establishment or institution. That’s not really my vibe.
Viktoria Modesta (21:51):
In my experience with those kind of things, every place has, that small percentage of people that are genuinely engaged with their work, genuinely want to change their company or the message that it sends to the world. It’s just believing in humanity a little bit, I guess, too, you know? I’m not really into generalizing that every kind of industry, or person, or current of things is just super the same.
Viktoria Modesta (22:28):
So, when a dark horse of the institution does reach out to me, I’m usually very excited about that. And I do all I can to bring a message and visual that is just on the edge to make an impact but still get the okay from the CEO somewhere. That’s just been my, method.
Viktoria Modesta (23:03):
I do genuinely believe that, underneath all there is a certain level of humanity that needs to be observed with all of these different things. I don’t want to get too kind of woo woo about it, from my f- perspective, even the reason why the spike video was as successful as it was despite it not being everyone’s taste, is they carried a really important human message, and it didn’t matter whether it was a student from Parson’s or whether it was, a retired couple from south of France, it was universal. And, you know, there is a universal cultural language that I think can be spoken.
David Hershkovits (23:59):
Let’s talk a little bit about fashion and London, nightlife and fetish scene, (laughs).
Viktoria Modesta (24:07):
David Hershkovits (24:08):
Because that obviously has an impact on you. I don’t know what you brought to them or you were influenced by them, or they were influenced by you. How do you feel about it? When you first showed up, were you just a punk kid trying to figure it out? Or what, what was your sensibility at that time?
Viktoria Modesta (24:28):
David Hershkovits (24:32):
You’re too young for punk, but you know what I mean,
Viktoria Modesta (24:34):
I, yeah. (laughs).
David Hershkovits (24:34):
Viktoria Modesta (24:35):
I mean, I was definitely as punk as I could’ve been without being there. Uh, yeah, I mean, gosh, I’m just flipping the archive pages.
David Hershkovits (24:46):
Viktoria Modesta (24:46):
And like, let’s go, let’s go to her, what was she doing at that time? It’s funny how we compartmentalize things into little chapters. The interesting part, which I’m observing the chapters of my life, and it’s really funny that, it went from really extreme Soviet, post-USSR, hospital life with mostly no education, to then I was in London.
Viktoria Modesta (25:20):
I arrived at 12. And by the time I was 14 I went to, um, you know, the first Torture Garden. And I we- (laughs), went to illegal raves and things like that. In a way, I think it helped me. Because I have such a fluid understanding that I’m mostly just sort of interested in the flow of culture, and energy, and what influences people to live a certain way, or express them in a certain way.
Viktoria Modesta (25:52):
Which has helped me because, it really takes effort for me to think about
Viktoria Modesta (26:00):
Hierarchy that exists traditionally. And I like that, I used to think that was a disadvantage, you know? Like a social disability, but it’s kind of helped me. For me, seeing the London subculture scene was the adult version of what I imagined the, you know, Disney and Hollywood thing to me, right?
David Hershkovits (26:30):
The fetish Disney, yeah. I can see something there. Definitely.
Viktoria Modesta (26:33):
Right? So I’m like, it’s full of these unusual people-
David Hershkovits (26:37):
Cruella de Vil.
Viktoria Modesta (26:39):
And you have the full spectrum of sexuality, identity, fashion senses, and every day you meet someone, and you’re like, “Oh.” I’m like, I see, I see how you dress. You must be into that kind of music with this kind of thing. Which by the way, I also really love. I love the origins of this dedication that you know, you couldn’t just wear a punk-y outfit unless you were actually one of those people. Like, I love that. That is probably the one thing that I miss from the fashion industry right now. Fashion is just disposable, you know? You can wear whatever you want, and you don’t have to have any investment in that culture. So, I really appreciate that part.
Viktoria Modesta (27:29):
So when I got into it, I was just like, you know, it’s fascinating. And, also at the time. Like, I had this really impending, awful problem with my leg, which meant that night clubs were such a comfortable place for me, because I could dress in the most extravagant outfit, and, be a night time creature, and people just relate to you from a sense of this aura, that you give off, which was a really different experience trying to go to, uh, a rough British, south London school with 12 year olds.
David Hershkovits (28:13):
Tell me what you were wearing though, that you describe as, outrageous.
Viktoria Modesta (28:18):
Oh man, I was definitely… through 14, 15, I was cyber punk. I had plastic hair. I had dreadlocks. My wardrobe was fully consistent from, latex designers, from cyber dog, from kind of the whole Camden market sort of area, you know? A lot of those designers. I definitely went for a period. I remember when eventually I went back to college to try and finish my school exams. I was wearing the New Rock platforms with springs on them like, just every day.
David Hershkovits (28:58):
Viktoria Modesta (28:58):
(laughs) You know? And that was just such a great time. I loved it. I just absolutely loved it. And by the time I was 18, I started dating the founder of Torture Garden. And, that was kind of mostly in my life for about a decade. It’s interesting. I like to skim over that part of my life a little bit, because it hasn’t felt necessarily, you know, I don’t know. I kind of just wanted to put it in the backburner..
David Hershkovits (29:45):
Okay, that’s fine. We can, we can move on if it’s-
Viktoria Modesta (29:48):
No, no, no. But, but I, but I do feel like, I do feel like the… incredible insight that I had throughout that period of time into the subculture, I probably have met every single, experimental, avant garde artist there is. From even people that have passed away, you know, like [inaudible 00:30:13] for example, the legendary body artist, you know? Every single person that has pushed their life with extremist performance art, you know, and I’m extremely grateful for that experience. And I probably should write something about that one time, because-
David Hershkovits (30:31):
Yeah, I think so. I’m sure it’s has a big influence on who you are today, so…
Viktoria Modesta (30:36):
David Hershkovits (30:37):
Viktoria Modesta (30:37):
No doubt. No doubt. And you know, the biggest thing, the biggest take away, for me for that was the intensity and the purity that happens within that culture. And the people that dedicate their entire life to this is who I am. This is what I feel. This is what I need to do. And I have to say that, um, you know, even before the performance at the paralympic closing ceremony, which sort of totally just flipped my brain in a different direction, a few years before that, I, I was already doing music. And I really started detaching from that community, and my feeling was that, you know, I loved, I loved everything about it.
Viktoria Modesta (31:33):
What I didn’t love is the fact that it’s so insular, and it just doesn’t spill out into the world, and for me, I just really wanted to take everything that I had distilled in me, and bring it out into the world and into a wider audience. And at the time, imagine, imagine pop culture in like 2005 till like, 2000, and I don’t know, like 12. I mean, awful, just awful, awful stuff, you know? And so, there’s a part of me that was just like reminiscing. Where is the, where are the amazing sci-fi R&B bands and amazing 90s movies, and like, where is all that stuff happening?
Viktoria Modesta (32:29):
It was a very big inspiration to just kind of run with it, and I think that when I stepped my foot into more mainstream media, and really just started feeling how my experience of subculture but also just general human tragedy, how those collided and what that meant, I was like, this feels meaningful. This feels like something that I could dedicate my life to.
David Hershkovits (33:06):
You mentioned, the human aspect, which is very important to you obviously. But also there’s the technology aspect. Those are kind of hot and cold in certain way if you want to look at that. You were an MIT lab fellow, I understand which is huge. I’ve always loved the MIT lab. It has this huge aura in my life. I even went there to walk around just to be around there at one point.
David Hershkovits (33:38):
And so, I want to quote something, ’cause you’ve talked about the idea that technology can be seamlessly incorporated into our lifestyle on a major level to assist with health, abilities and expression. In some ways, you could say I’m interested in exploring the future of fashion, music, and entrainment in a very conceptual way. It doesn’t have to be practical, but it should provoke that primal feeling of evolution. Is that why they wanted you at MIT lab because you think like that? Tell me about that whole time and what was going on there.
Viktoria Modesta (34:17):
Oh, man. Um… that was like one of the most incredible things that, that have just transformed my life. We released the prototype video which kind of went out like this SOS call to like-minded people. Thank you internet. And it was actually really fascinating, because I really experienced the pop culture force machine at the time, you know? Just your phone blowing off with all the big managers and agents and everyone’s like, you know, “We want you.” “We want you.” “No, we want you.” And MIT media made me realize that, at the time none of those things meant anything other than just being a trophy. Like, nothing. Zero.
Viktoria Modesta (35:16):
I reached out to a biomechatronic professor called Hugh Herr, who’s a double leg amputee who’s the leading person in the space. And I reached out to him. He invited me to MIT media lab and a series of d-declines from my agents at the time who were like, you know, “They’re not, they’re not paying you to go there. You shouldn’t be going.” Right?
Viktoria Modesta (35:48):
When I went there and when I transformed from my London life of, you know, freaks, and incredible, just this community of just like, self expression. And I ended up being- and it took me different part of the world with also freaks, but just on a more intellectual-
David Hershkovits (36:09):
Geeks. From freaks to geeks.
Viktoria Modesta (36:10):
Right. From freaks to geeks. And I stood there, and I was just like, “Oh, my God.” There are people who are actually creating and innovating science and technology and they think like me. And this is just absolutely fascinating. And I think that five months later, I got out of all of my big global contracts, and I pursued, um, kind of holding back for two, three years. I was just… like, a student of the culture. I went to a lot of conferences. You know. ‘Cause I, I didn’t have an education, but I’m extremely interested in things I’m interested in.
Viktoria Modesta (37:01):
The whole ethos of MIT media lab is that you have practical learning and just follow this kind of wave of creativity through the academic outlets, you know? I met people, I went to space conferences, to future fashion conferences, I really wanted to absorb what it meant? Instead of just dreaming about it and writing about it, or just pretending it, what does doing it look like, you know?
Viktoria Modesta (37:35):
And I think the reason why I was called out is because I didn’t come from that world, but I was doing it. I was trying to actually do it. Maybe with primitive things, you know? The design of my spike prosthetic wasn’t very technologically revolutionizing. But there was a feeling that I wanted to express in that, that resonated with that. Being in that space was totally transformative, my life changed forever, really.
David Hershkovits (38:19):
So did they give you a positive spin on technology as it applies to everything? Incorporating it into fashion, a lot of people are still stuck on the analog. They want the vinyl. They want old things. They wouldn’t dream of having a chip in your body. Would you?
Viktoria Modesta (38:46):
Okay. So, this is the really strange thing is that… the kind of transformation that happened inside of me that made me feel almost romantically
Viktoria Modesta (39:00):
… nostalgic about interfacing with technology in that way just happened very naturally through, , sorting out my health. It really did. You know, there’s this idea that it’s us, there is an inanimate object. You feel there is this barrier, you feel like there’s something, you know. The funny thing about resolving disability issues with technology is that you can’t possibly have this feeling of hostility towards this device, because this device is ultimately helping you really change your life. So you start to really pay attention to it, you start to have a certain appreciation for it, and you really start…
Viktoria Modesta (39:53):
In my case, having more design, fashion kind of mind, I really started looking at how, the smallest design details, really affect how I feel and how other people are affected around me. Which is really the thing with fashion, right? Walking into a room, having a strong silhouette of your outfit is totally different to something else.
Viktoria Modesta (40:19):
So there’s that element, and also, when I did go to MIT Media Lab and saw everybody’s work, it’s like the people who are creating technology outside of the consumer market are artists. They are artists. It’s their different canvas, they think of code, they think of different formulations, they think of different design things, they spend hours, they create it. And I think that, again, not being traditionally educated, it was the same process as going to an avant garde fashion designer and planning my outfit. It’s the same process of creation, of passion, of trying to solve and evolve.
Viktoria Modesta (41:15):
And that is the thing that I’m very excited about, this crypto art kind of movement, is that, at some point someone decided to categorize human expression into these really specific things. But, for me, I’m interested, what is the driving force behind your creation? How does the process happen?
Viktoria Modesta (41:45):
And in my opinion, over the last three years, every single project I’ve worked on, like the Rolls Royce, there’ll be a whole team of traditional artists, and a whole team of technologists and coders and engineers. And I bring them together under one umbrella and they’re first freaking out and they’re like, “How am I going to talk to this fashion director who shot Cardi B’s music video?” And you can see this tension and they feel like they’re really different. And then by the time we’re on set, someone is shooting, someone is coding so that my tesla coil leg goes off, and it’s all the same. It’s an orchestra. It’s an orchestra of different things happening.
Viktoria Modesta (42:35):
So I do genuinely believe that technology just got pushed and squeezed into this consumer thing, this thing that we use and it’s got a really specific sort of identity to it, and we just haven’t had enough time to really put the focus on how actually it’s just an extension of our creativity and our expression and our inner world. You know, our inner imagination, manifesting in different ways.
David Hershkovits (43:12):
So do you trust science today?
Viktoria Modesta (43:17):
I wouldn’t refer to anything as just the thing, the science. It’s all down to people. Like, every single problem with innovation that we encounter is a result of our human qualities.
David Hershkovits (43:39):
Yeah. I was reading this interesting article that was, uh, about AI, artificial intelligence, and the people who are working and writing the programs to develop that, and they started looking into it and they realized that there were almost no women among all of these men, and there were very few people of color. This is shocking, these people are making the future, in a way, designing the future, and they still haven’t figured out that- what you were just talking about: you have to bring together people of disparate groups to work together so you could have that point of view, instead of just giving it to people who look at the world in one way.
Viktoria Modesta (44:34):
Absolutely. It’s not even just a question of equality and diversity. Even within the types of people that end up creating the black box of algorithms, for example… And let’s just be clear, when they’re creating some kind of an algorithm for the internet or for any kind of, thing, face recognition, whatever it is, that person is essentially injecting their personality. They are extending themselves into, an algorithm that will then make different decisions. And most of the time it’s not even just about it being male dominated. Most of the time it will be a very sensory reduced person who might not even understand some of the most basic social, uh, nuances. Right? Somebody who spends a lot of time on their own or on a computer.
Viktoria Modesta (45:43):
That’s what’s frightening me. That is a legit fear. I’m absolutely not, um, scared of science and technology, or even AI necessarily. But I’m very conscious of the fact of, every single human problem that we have is going to be a direct reflection in those technologies. It’s essentially giving us super powers, right? But we can enhance our shadow parts of ourselves with these technologies. That is real.
Viktoria Modesta (46:32):
I think that a very diverse group of people engaging in the creation of the future in any shape or form, is vital. There are people who are promoting transhumanism, all of that stuff. And, let’s be clear, I’m not interested in that, necessarily. I’m just really interested in getting as many people engaged in it as possible. That’s why I get really passionate about the future, right? Because that is the only way we can stop ourselves from doing the things that we do best, which is, you know, make mistakes.
David Hershkovits (47:25):
Right now so many people feel that the system is broken, no matter, which side of the fence you’re on. And, with that, try to imagine a future that can work better and systems that make more sense, that are more sustainable, more empathetic, human in- in any way. Some sort of- of a version, but a positive version of that. Some places that people have actually figured things out and don’t have to keep doing what we’re doing to each other all the time. Which is the definition of neurotic, right? We have a neurotic culture that keeps on repeating itself over and over again.
David Hershkovits (48:09):
Viktoria Modesta, what do you say? Last words.
Viktoria Modesta (48:14):
Oh man. I think that the biggest, like, little nugget that keeps reappearing in my brain every single time that I start to feel like I can’t sense my personal power in the world or- or a situation, that’s the most important time, to reconnect with that. And time and time and time again, I proved myself wrong when I think that. Because, you know, you just really have to believe it. No one is ever going to come and give you that specific, fast, forward moving thing that you need inside of you.
Viktoria Modesta (49:07):
We are literally, in one way or another, shaping our future and our culture specifically. It’s kind of a responsibility. It’s like realizing that you have a responsibility for yourself and for what you put out into the world in every single way. But it’s really empowering. And I think that the more people feel that right now, the better. Who knows?
David Hershkovits (49:37):
Thank you. Viktoria Modesta, for being my guest today on Life Culture podcast.
Viktoria Modesta (49:46):
Thank you for having me.
David Hershkovits (49:48):
Viktoria Modesta (49:51):