To start with could you give us a brief description of your work?
At the moment I’m interested in boredom and repetition. This is linked to my interest in meditation, which from the outside can look pretty boring but personally this is not so. I have been using stencils to reproduce images of helicopters and hotels. The hotels I’ve used have come from boring postcards, so I’ve being making repetitive images out of these.
Where did the helicopters come from, why use them?
Well they came from a photograph that I came across of a bleak village being flown over by four helicopters in perfect formation. The precise positioning of the helicopters gives the image a paradoxically static quality, and because of the short shutter speed of the camera the blades look perfectly still.
I’m interested in stillness, the paintings by Thomas Jones and photographs by the Bechers seem to have a meditative quality.
As well as the obvious political/philosophical threads in your work there seems to be an air of humor?
Well with the postcards they are such uninspired photographs and badly reproduced too; old and tired. The hotels are basically featureless slabs but it’s quite funny that they have pretensions to being some kind of wonderful paradise, when quite obviously the building is just dull if not actually ugly. I think its strange how we’re lead to conduct our lives as human beings in structures such as this. Then of course there is the ironic story of the village that I’ve just mentioned. I think the boring can be funny in this way, ironic but with a certain innocence. On the whole I have a completely silly sense of humour.
What do you want the viewer to gain form the work?
Always a hard question to answer, but something about things which look boring at first and turn out to have subtle interest in the variations which happen in ostensibly identical things.
You say meditation only looks boring on the outside, explain?
Meditation seems to be a boring practice from the outside, but that’s because the ego is like a child – it constantly wants to be doing, to be in control, and meditation is a way of stilling the ego. Bad things seem to come from self-absorption: at one extreme the mind becomes completely solipsistic as in Ellis’s American Psycho, the ego just wants more and more. Well I haven’t actually read the book, I’ve been getting all overexcited about A Philosophy of Boredom by Svendsen. At the other end of the spectrum from the all encompassing ego which has lost any ability to relate to anything outside itself there is the transcended ego which is sought through meditation.
You see I’m gathering evidence for this ‘Unified Theory of Everything’, or perhaps Human Mind, I’m working on.
Ego can be seen as the conscious self in western tradition so are you saying our culture is childish?
Really I’m not using the term in exactly that Freudian way, but I think modern western society is in a way becoming more childish, or at least adults seem to be getting increasingly infantilised. The cult of celebrity and all that is really a cult of instant gratification and that is clearly an infantile trait. Adults are meant to be able to anticipate the advantages of delayed gratification when presented with the option, but ‘I want it NOW’ is what we seem increasingly to be encouraged to aim for. Then again we have this common feeling of being victimised; being more and more unwilling to take responsibility for what happens to us. There seems to be a common feeling of – ‘Not my fault, I was but and innocent bystander, I must have recompense’. The compensation culture.
But we are social beings and social intelligence (theory of mind) may have evolved enable us to function in groups. Social intelligence is also referred to as Machiavellian.
That is obviously the Cheat’s Charter – as long as only a few cheat they will prosper. You see the same in some animal social groups. We aren’t that different from other animals when it comes to social politics.
But we see ourselves as having free will and self awareness, and lots of us pay lip service to all sorts of high minded ideals about the Good of Humanity and such. Things would undoubtedly go much smother and easier if we could be less engrossed in ourselves, because we know from history that we only work as a species together – we are social beings.
What are your future plans?
Future plans… I’ve had a great time these last few months and the summer holidays represent a huge hiatus in trying to develop a sustainable practice. I’m hoping to be involved in a community based art project over the summer and will have another go at painting on canvas, then it’s into the third year… and beyond; the world. I think the big emphasis being put, in our course, on presenting oneself as a practicing artist is really excellent and should stand us in good stead.
Longer term, I may think about a part -time MA as I suspect I could suffer real withdrawal symptoms from the absence of all the workshops: ceramics, metal, wood, and from the need for serious reading and thought which I have found so exciting.
Clearly these are things a person could do on their own, but so much easier when there is a compulsion and advisers to help! (here speaketh the true me; fundamentally, deep down where it really counts – completely lazy).