We are Synchrodogs – a duo of artists from Ukraine, Tania Shcheglova and Roman Noven, working together since 2008. First we started as conceptual photographers and used photography as a medium that helped us recreate our visions, we were often creating installations in wild nature and shooting them, also working with nudity a lot as we consider it to be the purest form of human—that is how we all are born. Now we mostly work as multidisciplinary artists, simply because we have more ideas than photography can let us fulfill, and we would like to have no boundaries when creating something, so for the past years we were working with CGI animations, video and virtual production.
Now our thoughts and souls are occupied with other things, since war started in Ukraine. All days we are busy with activity that can support our country in any possible way, coordinating information via social media (that became a wartime full-scale instrument for helping each other), finding accommodation for refugees, collecting and making donations for urgent causes (as we follow how the situation is changing in real time and adopt donating to the most urgent cause of the moment). Now we see our art as one of the ways, not just to inspire people, but to physically support somebody’s health and life, as we donate a lot of funds from selling our prints and NFTs to support Ukraine🇺🇦
What was your path to doing what you’re doing now?
Before a full-scale war began, we were living the life of an artist, working on nature-related projects. Over the years we had a lot of solo shows in museums and galleries in London, Venice, Chicago, Dallas, Milano, Barcelona, Krakow, Antwerp, and nearly 60 group shows in venues like Palais de Tokyo in Paris and Guy Hepner gallery in NY, or Nordart in Germany. Also we were winners and finalists of many art competitions like the Feature Shot award, the Vogue Talent competition, and the LensCulture award. Our clients include LV, Burberry, Lady Gaga, Warp records, Swarovski, Bimba-y-Lola.
We are a couple of adventurous but very responsible perfectionists, who love making art more than anything else, so our path is a lot of hard work combined with a lot of weird stories happening behind the scenes. For instance, once we went on a 4000 mile road trip across the USA working on a Supernatural project, where we had a lightning bolt hit the ground right in front of our car while it was half floating in water with ice somewhere in Colorado. But as a result the project was shown at Dallas Contemporary Center, so it was totally worth it.
When you were growing up, was creativity part of your life, and how did you decide to focus on contemporary photography?
We both grew up in Western Ukraine. It is a country with kind and open people, but at the same time it is raw and aboriginal to some extent. When we were kids it was kind of separated from modern art or any trends, it made us discover the world of art ourselves through experimenting a lot rather than some art education. We both graduated from technical universities – Tania from Oil and Gas University, Roman from process automation department. In some way it helped us a lot in our perception of life and art as well: We love the technical aspects of constructing a shot, we often create installations simply to shoot them and then disassociate afterwards.
Did you feel different at the time you realised yourself as an artist?
It didn’t happen at once, it took us a while to understand that we are going through such a long way to give life to some idea not just for fun, it was (and is) our passion, and our mission to some extent. We are really self devoted in art, and to be honest a lot of our works are accomplished in dangerous circumstances that end up well. Once we had to go through a long slot canyon full of snakes to get to a dream destination; the other day we were shooting in a lake full of alligators and swimming spiders (yes, they exist!). Once our enduro motorbike was falling down the tough hill as the angle of the mountain was simply too harsh and we had to jump out of it while still driving to stay safe.
Did you have an “Aha!” moment when you knew that direction and photography were what you wanted to do? Was it a breaking point in your career? How does it influence your way of doing work now?
The breaking point in our career started in 2011 when “Dazed and Confused” magazine wrote about us and (as it was an era of blogging) hundreds of blogs and magazines wrote about us afterwards. That was maybe the first moment when we felt that what we are doing is being seen and being liked by people. Since that time many of our works became viral through magazines, later through social media. But we never intended to make it viral, we are just involved in creating something unique that nobody did before.
Also over the years we developed our own nighttime meditation technique, trying to catch the space between wakefulness and sleep. Our projects often deal with the stage of non rapid eye movement sleep, during which some people may experience hypnagogic hallucinations caused by the natural process of falling asleep. Experimenting with those lucid dreaming techniques, we usually woke ourselves up in the middle of the night to make a note of what we had just seen, gathering our dreams to be staged afterwards. So our art changed dramatically when we started practicing it in 2011-2012.
We were even nominated for the Pinchuk Art Prize in 2013 and made a solo show based only on those visions that we shot in Iceland
Tell us more about your recent drop “Nature Twins“
We just dropped a series of works called “Nature Twins” on SuperRare – a project about the duality of human personality which deals with embracing different unique aspects of oneself and accepting them. At the same time it is about multiverse theory, due to which our decisions determine one of a billions of optional ways we can take. The project contains 12 years of life, and is shot all over the world—from Iceland to USA, from Germany to Spain, from Sri Lanka to Norway. We keep working on topics of interconnection of art and science, as well as human and nature, as there are so many things still to be discovered and we are eager to see what the future brings to all of us. Big part of the money from sales will go to support Ukraine, it’s the least we can do to support our people.
Do you collaborate with other artists?
Recently we dropped “The Point Of No Return” project on SuperRare, the CGI project we were working on with a big team for 9 months. We had an idea to create a visually strong project and started working on ideas in 2020. We continued our trip depicting the connection between human and nature. The project is about searching for new sources of energy and the way we can interact with it, about the point of no return in the tech progress. It is our reflection as artists on actual topics of irreversibility of time, about last scientific discoveries like Time Crystals, about new humans in a new quantum era, as we are living at the time when the new discoveries are being made that change our perception of physics.
We love collaborating with other artists and studios, 3D specialists, as a big complex project demands a big team to be released on a high level. For “The Point of No Return,” we collaborated with 3D artists Volodymur Bosiy from Ukraine, Simon Kounovksy from Greece, and Stefan Batros from Romania, developing virtual locations and FX with them. Last year we scanned Tania in 3D together with Deep3d studio, enlisted media support by “Vogue Ukraine” magazine team, developed rig with Studioz 3d studio and made animations with Eugen Sinicyn and Volodymyr Paslavskyi. Rendered volumetric scenes on Xiruim Farm. So we are always open to collaborating with artists that feel our vision and style and with whom we have high synergy together. So if any professionals are reading our interview and want to collaborate just drop us a line.
As a creative person, do you ever have those moments where you feel like everything you create is just not right?
We all have moments of doubt or anxiety, but we also have dreams that lead us, and those dreams are much stronger than any doubts that can arise. The career of an artist is not only a matter of talent, it is also a matter of luck to some extent, and if at some period of time too many things fall apart we trust that there is still a bright future ahead, because we have faith in what we do. It all comes from our heart and it’s all we have at the end of the day.
Did you have a mentor? Who was it and how did they inspire you?
Throughout our career we met people who had faith in us and who supported us via collaborations, and we are really grateful to them. When we just started shooting it was Jakob Feigl (the editor of “Neon” magazine) who was publishing our photography a lot, and Neon is one of the biggest magazines out there in Europe. Then it was Andrea Gelardin (who used to be the advertising agent of Lady Gaga) who believed in us and we made a lot of shootings together (including one for Lady Gaga and her “merch”). Then there was a huge 6 year long collaboration with one of biggest Spanish brands Bimba Y Lola – we literally call them our Spanish family and love them to the moon and back, and recently we got a book published by Louis Vuitton with editor Patrick Remy and his brands team, whose support we also appreciate a lot. For us, those people mean a lot, as it is very important from time to time to meet that one person who has trust in you and your art.
Is it important to you to be a part of a creative community of people?
Of course, the artistic journey should not be a lonely one, any artist blooms when it is part of a community, then his art is seen and his message is heard, otherwise it is not fulfilling its function to the fullest.
You’re already a successful and well-established artist. What made you pursue NFT art as a medium?
Art is created to be seen by people, and the ways to show and see art are now changing. We are living in new times already which can not be ignored. Remember using pagers 20 years ago? Well, where are they now… There is no need to spend life in ignorance. We are eager to develop the best version of ourselves and it only comes if you are educating yourself, getting to know more about innovations and technology development. Also we are happy that the world is accepting NFT art more and more. For instance, late autumn some of our NFTs were exhibited in the PH Museum in Italy as we were the winners of their Grant Award in 2021 and on huge Shibuya TV screens in Tokyo together with Superchief gallery.
What are your short plans for the next NFT drop?
We continue to work on art projects combining the real world with CGI graphics installations. Some months ago, we started working on our first short movie that will consist of 11 scenes, that would be on the edge of classical theater and opera, cinema and innovative technologies, as we love that contradiction between old and new, traditional and ground-breaking. We plan to collaborate with a lot of talents from different spheres working on it, but let’s keep some mystery in the meantime. It’s our biggest and most ambitious project for this year and parts of it will exist in the form of NFTs.
But our most important plan is to continue supporting peace, and providing help to fellow Ukrainians that are in need. We believe that if all countries unite together supporting democracy and freedom, that the world will become a much better and safer place to be. Praying for peace in all the world and know that justice will win.