Kundrát’s activist approach to science drew the attention of Pavel Sterec, the head of Studio of Intermedia
, who suggested he apply for a master’s program at the Faculty of Fine Arts (FFA)
. While in the lab, this young scientist plays with nuclear fuel, and his first final art piece was a video showing an explosion of a cross made of brass, steel, and cinder, referring to Robert Oppenheimer.
How did your first final exams at the Studio of Intermedia go?
Good, I got a C, so I passed. It was demanding, but also fun.
How did you get to the Faculty of Fine Arts? What were you looking for there?
Well, I was looking for another layer in my life. Actually, I wasn’t even looking, but I sort of found the door to Narnia that you either enter or spend the rest of your life regretting that you didn’t. And the problem is that there’s another door further on, and another, and I don’t know if I should open them or how to find a border between the two worlds. I’ve found some great, fun people there – incredibly interesting and expressive people, which makes me feel good. That’s where you can talk with people about various topics even outside chemistry.
Vojtěch Kundrát's art piece was a part of the group exhibition Sand in the Gears in PLATO Ostrava. Photo: Matěj Doležel, PLATO
What would you say the difference is between working in science and arts?
I think it’s ultimately the same. I see chemistry as a box of Legos; you have something you’d like to achieve, or at least some theoretical goal or direction. And you have to invest your energy into it, either chemical or your own energy. And then you either achieve it or you don’t, or it may do thousands of things you don’t expect.
In terms of mindset, I love one of our studio seminars at FFA called “Open Form”. It’s more or less a method for discovering how to unlearn things. It may look like a children’s game, for example playing with cubes made of wood. But it’s a team activity, that’s what’s important. On the other hand, any scientific activity, even if done in a team, is never a team thing. You work in a group, but only rarely do people in science bond. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a great group of people in the lab, but it’s not as intensive as in the studio. There may be several reasons: in the studio, there are more girls, and – mainly – the Open Form brings people together, as if they grew up together in a kindergarten. As a side effect, you start to see things differently, realize the mechanisms of your behaviour and thinking, and then you can decide whether they are worth keeping. This is very important for scientific thinking. For example, in chemistry classes from high school onwards, everything is presented as truth. This is how it is and has to be. Most facts are often true and are difficult to disprove. The downside is that this makes your thinking rather rigid. Once I managed to destroy this, or at least to realize it, my ideas got better and fresher. And I enjoy it more.