When did you come to Russia? 

I came to Russia about 2 years ago. Now that I think about it, it is kind of amazing that I’ve already spent a fair amount of time here in St. Petersburg, it has been a wonderful time full of ups and downs of course but that’s something that will always be present in human life. 

How did you find out about the Art & Science Master's program and what made you interested to participate?

I found it by accident. I always had the dream of visiting Russia so one day after I finished my Bachelor’s degree I dug into the internet in pure curiosity if I could find some interesting Master’s degree and well, I did. Art & Science seemed very interesting. I have always been interested in technology and art so the juxtaposition of these two fields together, as a Master’s program and... in Russia! That made my day and without hesitating, I applied and everything flowed positively from there. There’s some truth that can be uncovered in both art and science and being able to understand and be a part of it still gets me excited. 

What was your educational background before you did this program?

After some struggle to find a career that would have everything I wanted or was interested in (art, 3D, music, storytelling, cinematography, videogames, psychology) I opted to study Animation & Digital Art in ITESM, in Mexico City. It was very flexible and allowed me to move around different forms of expressions, which I appreciated. I did not just learn to do animation, I did sculptures, short films, video games, and developed my understanding of the world.

What is your main research topic / what did you write your thesis on?

The title of my thesis is “Reminiscence of the Psyche in Artificial Life and its Symbolic Nature.” The main idea is trying to understand psychologically how artificial life, like robots, have a deep connection with the human psyche since the Hellenic period to our contemporary time, and how the appearance of these artificial characters in myths and stories is a form of archetype that we develop unconsciously as human beings. I believe this perspective can be helpful for future developments as it takes into account the humanity with which the new artificial advancements are made.

In Teriberka in the Far North of Russia. Credit: Yulia Markova
In Teriberka in the Far North of Russia. Credit: Yulia Markova

What kind of activities did you get involved in while at ITMO? 

Well, mostly everything was related to art. I had the opportunity to be in the 101 media poetry festival, to do a special dance video for the Museum of Optics and I even got a part-time job here working! I got to know a lot of interesting points of view and people and that kind of always helps to put everything into perspective and remember where I stand in the world so I am very grateful for that.

The fruits of consciousness project that Ethan Avila and Laura Rodriguez are working on. Photo courtesy of subject
The fruits of consciousness project that Ethan Avila and Laura Rodriguez are working on. Photo courtesy of subject

What did you like the most? What are your plans for the future?

I think what I liked the most is just the pure fact of being in Russia, being able to experience the people. Going to small towns and seeing how people live, their history, etc. It’s fascinating and every time I remember small or big details about this city or country, I always get excited and want to visit it more. I believe I’ve visited the Hermitage more than 15 times now. It would have been more but COVID-time ruined it.  My next big plan is just preparing everything to expose, with my friend Laura, an artwork we made that expresses the evolutionary theory of humans and snakes that were co-evolving together in an arm’s race kind of way and in consequence humans acquired language that leads to consciousness. We will present that next month at the Ars electronica festival.

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