Andrea Anghinetti - Student Q&A - Global Design Graduate Show 2022 in collaboration with Gucci
In advance of the deadline for Global Design Graduate Show 2021 in collaboration with Gucci, we interview Massachusetts College of Art and Design Film/Video MFA graduate Salman Farhadi. Our Global Design Graduate Show 2021 in collaboration with Gucci is open internationally to all art and design undergraduate or postgraduate students graduating in the Academic Year 2020-21 and the deadline to apply is August 31 2021.
See Salman’s ARTSTHREAD Portfolio
ARTSTHREAD:Where are you currently based? Describe your workspace at home?
Salman Farhadi: Due to financial issues I couldn’t afford to rent my own place when I came to the US in the Summer of 2019. So, one of my relatives was generous enough to allow me to stay with him. After the lockdown when I couldn’t access my university’s studios, I transformed a small portion of the basement of the house into a studio by putting in an old TV and connecting the laptop that I had borrowed from my university.
ARTSTHREAD: What is the name, theme, concept and final outcome of your graduate project?
Salman Farhadi: "Distant Shores”, Surreal/Virtual Reality. This 3D animation allows me to give shape to my senses of longing, loneliness and homesickness through immersive spaces that are based upon my dreams, nightmares and fleeing memories.
ARTSTHREAD: Can you explain the thinking behind the key concepts and outcomes of your project?
Salman Farhadi: Unbelievably, I was able to enter the US in August 2019, during the travel ban and reintroduction of the harshest international sanctions on Iran. I left my family and home with a small suitcase. It’s all the property that I own here. I brought a small Persian carpet with me. When I unfold it, it feels like home, but very far from the one I knew. Basically, since coming to the US, I have been living out of this suitcase, displaced, isolated and alien, unable to orient myself to the new environment.
I used to go hiking back in Iran and here for many reasons like economic and covid restrictions, I was unable to make new memories. Stuck at home, I did not have access anymore to the resources that I had before. I felt invisible despite being present on daily Zoom calls. I thought of the other international students and then all the immigrants who have been in a very similar situation. We all felt like a refugee during the lockdown. So, I began to collect my fragmented memories that I was forgetting.
Watching tutorials of softwares like Unity, I began to create my homeland in a 3D world where I could own things and personalize them. Then my professor allowed me to borrow his VR headset so that I could test run those spaces in an immersive way. I ended up combining my dreams and nightmares and initiated a level of ambiguity that demonstrates my own sense of uncertainty. What I unconsciously did was an analysis of my own thoughts and identity like a therapeutic process to directly encounter what made me sensitized. Seeing my own body projected into that 3D avatar helped me acknowledge my vulnerability and deal with distress that otherwise I was just suppressing.
ARTSTHREAD: How have you adapted your work to online tutorials and showcases? How has online learning changed your outcomes?
Salman Farhadi: I think one of the biggest advantages that online class had for me was a huge amount of extra time I felt I had. So, I began watching tutorials and learn new capabilities that before I did not believe I could. I knew I had to move out of my comfort zone or I would have to give up. Thanks to my professors, I felt determined and courageous enough to go and experiment with a software I had just began to learn from scratch. And to my surprise, despite all the difficulties and confusion I encountered in the process, the result came out more than I expected. I still believe I did the work usually done by a team.
ARTSTHREAD: Have you had to innovate when working by yourself at home?
Salman Farhadi: - A lot! I mean the whole process of learning a software that is regularly used only to make games, in order to make a 3D animation and improvise on the storyline, all of it was an innovative process. I remember I was failing in my first experiments because I was a total amateur in 3D developing, until I decided to do all the things my own way instead of just following tutorial instructions. And the good thing about being new to something is that there’s no reason not to experiment different methods.
ARTSTHREAD: What's one thing that has helped you get through the last year?
Salman Farhadi: I would say my supportive professors and the relative whose house I lived in. They encouraged me to keep going on with my decision of diverging from traditional cinema and approach my concerns through my own methods. Those efforts and goals that I had set before leaving my home country suddenly were being diminished and I could not afford losing what I had planned towards building a better life.
ARTSTHREAD: What are the most positive learning outcomes from this process?
Salman Farhadi: Not giving up, no matter how hopeless I become, there’s always a hidden path that leads to success. There are not many obstacles around when someone has a goal and motivation to reach for it. The obstacle is how the mind approaches sorting things out. Once I overcame that fear of being out of my comfort zone, then I gradually saw new horizon opening up to new possibilities.
ARTSTHREAD: How do you think design can help improve the world?
Salman Farhadi: A designer is always someone with concerns more often beyond his/her own. In an approach to address those unattended concerns and build a more peaceful, comfortable habitat for humans, He/she thinks in a bigger scale by having the perspective of the whole community that he/she is coming from. This allows new innovative ideas evolve in the mind of a designer who can see between lines with an obsessive power of observation and analysis.
Throughout the history of humankind there’s always been those who thought of creating instruments and new ways of expressing thoughts that words fell short to represent them. But the designer’s language established a more understandable way of dynamic communication to a broader audience.
ARTSTHREAD: What are your hopes for the future?
Salman Farhadi: For everybody else like me, who is feeling suppressed while being isolated and unable to deal with all the anxiety that life imposes on them, I hope that they do feel confident and stay flexible enough to take risks from time to time. For myself, I hope I can afford to buy some of the equipment that I had to borrow from my school and my professor to create this project. Maybe now that I have graduated, by finding a job in this field, I can reach to a broader audience and do my best to raise the awareness about what’s going on the people in that side of the planet, when the media is not and does not want to cover all of the truth.
ARTSTHREAD: Thank you Salman- we wish you all the very best
See Salman’s ARTSTHREAD Portfolio
Images in slider: Salman Farhadi & his graduate project
Our Global Design Graduate Show 2021 in collaboration with Gucci is open internationally to all art and design undergraduate or postgraduate students graduating in the Academic Year 2020-21 and the deadline to apply is August 31 2021.