Illya Szilak uses open source media and collaborations forged via the Internet to create transmedia novels. Shaped by her experiences as a practicing physician, her artistic practice explores mortality, embodiment, identity and belief in a media inundated and increasingly virtual world. She has presented her work at Princeton University, Brown University, the University of Colorado, Boulder, the Kitchen in New York, Bard College and the Université Paris-Sorbonne. She currently practices medicine part-time at Rikers Island Correctional Facility in NYC. She is in the process of writing a book of first-person vignettes based on her experiences there.
Her longtime creative partner is Cyril Tsiboulski. Their first work Reconstructing Mayakovsky was selected for the second Electronic Literature Collection and was a jury pick for the Japan Media Arts Festival in Tokyo in 2010, and at Filmwinter in Stuttgart in 2011. The animation for the novel has been shown in eight film festivals around the world. Their second Queerskins was recognized by the Webby Awards in the category of NetArt in 2013 and was exhibited at the 5th Digital Storytelling Conference in Ankara, Turkey and at the Bibliotheque National in Paris. It is included in the third Electronic Literature Collection. Both works are frequently taught at the university level as important examples of experimental literature and narrative game. Szilak is the recipient of a BANFF digital narratives residency and is an Oculus Launchpad alumna.
In 2017, Cyril and she received grants The Sundance Institute and from Tribeca Film Institute /MacArthur Foundation to make a VR experience based on Queerskins. This premiered with a commissioned interactive installation at The Tribeca Film Festival in April 2018. Another VR experience, Atomic Vacation , a post-apocalyptic narrative game about a little robot girl, the lone occupant of a rocket ship carrying an archive of all human knowledge, is in production and is expected 2019.
CV Illya Szilak