Auriea Harvey

auriea_titleAround the time I was buying my very first Mac in 1997, a friend and designer showed me the website. I began my fascination with not only the work of Auriea Harvey – but the sense of how a website could actually seduce and draw you in to an entirely encompassing world.

When I was alone at a computer high above the Old City in the Arab Quarter in Jerusalem, I found a connection of the ancient world with the contemporary world through Auriea’s webcam. There I was –five minutes from the Wall and the Church Of the Holy Sepulchre and the Dome Of the Rock—watching Auriea at her monitor late at night in Manhattan looking tired but beautiful in what appearred to be a party dress still worn after a late night out in the noisy urban rush…

To me, groundbreaking designers like Auriea are the new rockstars and I am thrilled to share our dialogue.

I asked Auriea to conduct an experiment with me, a sort of ‘what pops into your mind when I say this’ dialogue rather than the traditional Q & A.


JARBOE: getting the basics covered -utilizing commercial work to develop /promote /nurture the obscure/artistic independent projects- those of your own and others…

AURIEA: means always having trouble telling the difference between public and private. giving others your vision so that they may see things their own way.

JARBOE: the challenge of the designer to pay the bills by these means and still be energetic enough to create so the mind can dance

AURIEA: the challenge of the designer to satisfy a desire. every designer pushes the world in a direction she sees. Not doing what has been done to death finding new ways to build the world.

JARBOE: making $ BY creating as you like …in other words YOUR style is sought after and therefore becomes what the client comes to you for in the first place…
The ways to establish your style…

AURIEA: seeing $ as a double edged sword sometimes i myself am afraid of sucess. sometimes it feels better to fail but at least to fail on my own terms. and not because i’ve given in. the client may come for what you have done but … with every thing i make a new idea is generated. who wants to spend life spinning in circles. you want to take what you have done and evlove it give the client a next generation vision. often they just want carbon copies. the challenge is to establish a style but then to not remain stagnant. reinvention, experimentation.

JARBOE: clients- the 3 types (if we have to limit it to three)

AURIEA: the client i must take by the hand and guide the client who wants me to work for free the client who wants me to kiss his ass the client who asssumes i am his slave the client is rare who gives trust and freedom but they do exists and that is who i will work for happily.


AURIEA: inability to “SEE” presentation
elements = the eye/brain absorbs- (via filters in the brain which organize chaos)such that anything surprising and fresh becomes tired and usual…… the necessity to break down and remove these filters (by use of the unexpected element- wild card, jarring factor. “doesn’t fit” ) stimulating new relationships of elements– exposing/introducing the ‘mistake’ and the ‘danger’ in order to SEE again… ways and other ways to accomplish this?

AURIEA: A life in this network. and seeing it as such. computers are not just tools but a way of achieving enlightened existence. run your fingertips over the element. use this collective brain, this organism of human interaction to inspire you. The intimacy that is achieved with a creation and a person who experiences that creation. meditate on that. what do you want them to feel. how does it feel to be one with the network. how does it feel to slip through the screen and into an environment behind the glass. how can our inner circutry be touched by this network of wires and lives. in this network its not art… more than text beyond the image. a living, breathing, beast awaits. come into my domain see me see my works, thoughts, nothing more than thoughts and desires, fears but see me. i am here for those who wish to contend with.. a woman . a black woman. a telepresence. an undefined network dweller.


JARBOE: I realized I had to create my SELF.
AURIEA: don’t look back or you will turn into a pillar of salt.
AURIEA: I had to REMEMBER who I was and my own power and dignity.
AURIEA: it is too easy to forget.
AURIEA: I cannot depend on ANYONE but myself.
AURIEA: and yet I had to realize that I cannot do everything myself in this world.
always been one to want to know everthing be everywhere. and i try but i
haven’t got the time.
AURIEA: I get my own food and wine.
I don’t expect a man to do it.
AURIEA: to expect anything would be foolish.
AURIEA: Exercise/meditation…
Unattached//strong mind.
AURIEA: knowledge is when you can accept the way things go up and down and are able to be calm when the 360 degres go round again. it all cycles.
AURIEA: Do not let a man take your power: Do not let love cloud your drive/focus.
AURIEA: I have been accused of thinking with my clitoris.


AURIEA: I really want to know what you do to keep your vision unclouded and expansive. How do you personally keep cynicism from closing your mind?
AURIEA: I guess I don’t keep it from clouding my mind on the contrary I let it. Ups and downs are a part of life, no. If I am cynical then I take that as a starting point but turn it around… if my mind is closed the fun/hard part is opening it back up again.
Then there is also this… It is very important for me to be honest in my work. The work must not just be done it must be meant. This is difficult as it puts me in uncomfortable places inside myself but if I am too comfortable, if something feels too perfect, then I know it is not honest.

AURIEA: Was the move to Belgium in any way a path to continued self exploration?

AURIEA: oh yes. New York and the USA in general felt to me a stagnant pool. So much going on but nothing moving. Espescially with design it seemed to be ecommerce shopping carts selling souls and dropping bombs on countries I’d never seen.I left to get some perspective. Creating for networked media is a global art and the globe, while dominated by US media, does not only consist of American tastes… i need to find out more about the way the world works for better or worse.

JARBOE: You have enough clout at this point in your impressive career to really pick and choose where you put your energies, do you not?

AURIEA: True to a certain point. But I am at a point now where I have lots of impractical desires.

JARBOE: Was leaving New York away to get some fresh air metaphorically and maybe literally? Is there a connection ?

AURIEA: Yes New York isn’t a place for the faint of heart or those needing fresh air. I had lived there for ten years… it was long enough. Its funny but being there was great for being a graphic/web designer… lots of work (sometimes too much) I don’t have that same luxury here. People tended to contact me for work simply because i was in nyc. But as soon as I left lots of connections ended BUT things started happening for me artistically like never before. my personal work has indeed flourished in new surroundings and people notice that.

JARBOE: How important is or do you even notice sentimentality in shaping your personal design projects/art ?
AURIEA: Well, if it can be called sentimentality… My work is about my life sometimes i feel that is all i have.

JARBOE: What do you see as the ultimate for now and the near future the shape of the womanonfire site?

AURIEA: is a place where I can showcase my inner depths away from the history of I want to work with other people to make that site a visceral paradise producing beautiful imagery, music and animation. But theres not much there now just my cv.

JARBOE: What are some of the things you do to keep yourself focused and strong? I find that being alone is important in order to know myself and hear my voice. For example, I sometimes like to burn incense and candles and hear certain atmospheres from my cd player and do deep breathing and yoga..Something as simple as this refreshes me and gives me strength I feel for days

AURIEA: I go outside.. look at the moon and the stars come back in and make love to my boyfriend. Sleeping/Dreaming is often a big teller of tales… but also the things i do online like tweeking code on or the weekly Wirefire shows have a calming effect on me… i don’t know why…

JARBOE: Do you have a ‘5 year plan’ for your work/career? How often do you access your accomplishments and at what point do you set your sites on a new goal?

AURIEA: I can plan but things have a way of taking care of themselves… or not.

JARBOE: IN my work, I have had the experience of strangers telling me that they feel a deep connection to me based on what they have interpreted about me through my music and lyrics and voice. I get love letters and people sometimes pour out their hearts to me. …It is my opinion that websites can and your own sites in particular do have that same kind of powerful intimate effect on people. Not only with such things as the live cam–where I felt you were fearless in showing us your emotions in your expressive face..but also in the layers of intensity and seductive beauty, humour, and even danger that the unfolding and interactive dimensions in your work reveal. Will you comment on this?

AURIEA: I got into this medium to have that connection with people. When I do something I want people to feel it phisically now. In the beginning I didn’t know that this sort of intimacy with strangers was possible. It does mean alot to know that your work can have meaning in someone elses life, and it effects me greatly to get those emails from people who enjoy what i do. I have hoped all along to make works which can transcend physicality(don’t know that i’ve gotten there yet)… part of a website exists only in the minds of those experiencing it… much like a movie, in fact i releate internet art more closely with film than with books, the big difference between it and film being this live dimension, this one on one quailty… where the viewer can be made aware of the artists existence and the artists hand and in some cases join hands with the artist to create together in some way or create an exchange of ideas. It can be a meeting of minds or hearts.

JARBOE: I would love to hear about a project you are conceptualizing/working on now!

AURIEA: The projects I am planning for the near future involve my ongoing collaborations with Michael Samyn. Our website has a structure which allows us to work on it chapters, first was Genesis(where the focus was on our meeting and beginng a creative partnership), then Exodus(which is about me leaving New York)… i think you can tell where we are going with this 🙂 Anyway, the next episode for the site is Leviticus I will let its actual content be a surprise but anyone who has ever actually read that book of the bible will wonder at the value that is placed on blood and the idea of what makes someone worthy of societies scorn. It also reads like a surgical manual or cook book depending on how literally you read into it. We will also have a special version of our live online performance ‘WIREFIRE’ centered around this additional chapter to the e8z site.