Statements & Interviews

.Beneath the Unraveling Horizon 2010

Throughout life, individually and communally, beliefs we once held true are often reveled to be contrary to our original understanding. This series explores this phenomenon as pertaining to nostalgia of an aging dream for future national and personal prosperity in America. As the destructive nature of global colonization becomes more apparent, the difference between America’s role as a purveyor freedom or as a reckless tyrant is becoming progressively ambiguous.

In these works, layers of paper with printed imagery of idealized Americana rip from the center outward from shattered frames. Almost as if exploding, the layers of paper flower from the center, with each ripped image revealing the other behind. The center most layers project furthest away from the piece as if caught in the current wake of time awaiting the next layer to be revealed. This continuous pattern of revelation, mirrors the perpetually altering perspective on America’s global identity and role.

Cinemallage Series 2008-2009:

Cinemallage: pieces that are simultaneously the set and viewing platform for stop animation movies.

Housed within each collage is a video player displaying chapters of an imaginative tale of a young mans journey through a future utopian fantasy world where he learns how the power of imagination can make a change in the world around him. This story employs the naïve language of fairytale as a vehicle to engage several real issues in today’s society evoking hope and community in a trying time of uncertain future.

Following the protagonist through this future utopian world we come across many characters who discuss various concerns we face today such as recession, credit and mortgage crisis, global warming, social inequality, and modern food production. The characters give insight into how they overcame such challenges and offer the power of imagination as a means for hope for a better future.

Living Exercises Project 2009-10:

An on going performance project based on a series of instructions to be done sometimes privately or publicly aimed to broaden ones perspective personally and socially.  Recorded in the form of an instructional handmade book of exercises to be done alone, with friends, family and strangers, the series facilitates introspective, cathartic and enlightening experiences. Included with the handmade books are DVDs documenting several recent performances described within the book.

Artist in Bathroom Residency, A Month-Long “Live” Performance Installation 2009:

Spectators were presented with the illusion that the artist has confined himself inside the gallery’s bathroom with a month’s rationing of food and water. Viewers can watch him via a “live” video and audio feed routed from the bathroom. In an array of emotionally charged performances the solitary artist critiques the art world in a fanatical and existential whirlwind of crazed romanticism, tragedy and humor.

SELECT INTERVIEWS:

“Ready Made” blog
Reflection: Windows to Your Own Adventure

Caitlin Thornton

How did you manifest the idea for Exponential Reflections of a Finite Forest?

I suppose the idea stemmed from the “Living Exercises” body of work I’ve been doing lately. It’s a mix of public performance and street art. The most basic premise behind this work is to interrupt someone’s day to interject a moment of introspection. Depending on the project, this could be a personal or social experience.

What would you like to accomplish with the installation? (What would you like others to get out of it)?

When I saw how massive the windows were I realized how great an opportunity it was to reach out to the public with something interactive. Not just to throw some art up to be seen but to make something that could really engage those passing by.

The installation ended up being a mix between a psychological survey about personality types and a flow chart / labyrinth.  The public is invited to answer varying survey type questions on metaphysics, social norms, morals, love, prosperity, optimism, etc. that are proposed in the form of visual riddles. Depending on the viewers answer, they follow a dotted line that directs them to a new question. In the end, this process filters the audience across the windows into 6 different conclusions that are supposedly revealing of each individual’s personality type.  In truth, it’s the questions themselves that are intended to advance the viewer into a mode of self-reflection. The questions are purposefully opened-ended and often ambiguous because it’s the individual’s subjectivity that is most revealing about them. Furthermore, because it is in a public forum people can compare their own unique notions on each riddle as well as the conclusions.

Was the idea to put your work on display in the Donnell Library windows purposeful? If so, how?

Well, when Daniel and I were brainstorming we entertained a few ideas that were site specific but we didn’t think the current owners of the building would be fond of them. One idea was to cover the windows with brown paper as if there was remodeling going on inside the library and then hang signs in the windows that read Books a Million coming soon – a fun play on commercialization but one I’m sure many wouldn’t appreciate!

How did you and your collaborator, Daniel Cassidy, work together on this project? Do you commonly collaborate?

Daniels a bit of a rascal, very smart, and knowledgeable but he’s got a bit of a pessimistic outlook which could be arguably a realist point of few. But this works out as I’m generally optimistic, which could also be argued as a naïve point of view. Never the less, this gives us a good balance when we approach collaborating on ideas. We’re both perfectionists and workaholics which you kind of have to be to take on a project this big. I think we’ll definitely collaborate in the future but I think we could both use a break for a little while.

It appears that you’re a big multi-media guy. Do you have a favorite medium to work with, or do you like to experiment? Why?

It’s 2010, why stick to just one medium when you have so many at your whim? To answer this question I will say, I’m a big fan of craft but if the idea isn’t about craft then I use whatever medium best facilitates the idea.

Even if your mediums vary, are your works cohesive as a collection (the message, for example)?

I think it would be very hard for me to separate my personality and interests from my art. So, most definitely there is a cohesive perspective behind the varying bodies of work I’m involved in.  For me art is just another way of engaging and interpreting the world around myself. For me it’s not about expressing myself but rather searching for meaning and purpose in such a magical, mysterious and tragic world. It would be nice if I could just interject a prepackaged artist statement here, but we are dynamic and organic people and to lump oneself into a self-confining manifesto can be just as restricting as liberating.  All in all metaphysics, personally and socially is what interests me and I’m still finding that to be pretty challenging to break down into one overall statement!

Tell us about one of the most interesting or challenging projects you’ve worked on thus far.

The performance part of the “Living Exercises” series I find the most physiologically challenging. And that’s exactly what they are designed to do. Part of this body of work comes in the form of a book that is full of various performance pieces one could do by themselves, friends, family and even strangers. Each one is completely different but they all are intended to broaden your perspective about various things in life. For example one performance instructs you to go to the city and ask a stranger walking down the block even you can hold their hand for only one block and at the end of that block you are supposed to ask if they want to continue for another block. You’re supposed to keep asking them at the end of every block until they decline. I got some friends together last summer and we hit the streets of Manhattan, and sure enough we were able to get people to hold our hands! The experience made you feel so alive – your only common bond between you and this stranger holding your hand was humanity and that is an incredible feeling!

Another challenging and rewarding performance I did recently with some friends was Lost and Find Yourself Flyer. The instructions are: Take a photo of yourself and make a lost persons flyer. With flyer ask strangers on the street if they have seen the person on the flyer and if they recognize that it is you, ask them if they can help you find yourself. If you can believe it many people here in New York really opened up and we had a great many very deep and rewarding conversations. In all actuality the project was mostly about interviewing people about their perspectives on how to go about living life and less about you finding yourself.

From your site, it seems that you’re “in a constant state of creating.” When did you start making things? How has the passion developed?

Ha, that’s not my quote. I think that’s on NNEN page. Well, it’s true but no one really ever wants to hear about how creative you were as a child! But, I will say that my parents have two big boxes full of hundreds of cards I made them; not just for birthdays but also for random occasions even sometimes made up ones. Also, there are several VHS tapes filled of theatrical home movies my brother and I made at my parent’s house! I’d have to say that passion has developed into an obsession healthy or otherwise…

I read about the No New Enemies Network from the site.  How did you become a part of it and how has it changed your experience as an artist? What does this membership mean to you?

In truth I’m still figuring that out! I’m new to the site but so far I see it as a great platform for networking internationally. A great curator and now good friend of mine Lori Zimmer invited me to the network and has helped me make many new connections through the site and otherwise.

“London Street Art Design” 2010
Deborah Charles

How did you come across the idea for the boom box installation?

Hmmm, several years back I randomly started collecting vintage Boom Box radios and one day I found myself decorating them or as one might say customizing them.  Then about two years ago I lived in Chicago with two DJ’s. We started hitting the streets with these beautiful monster boxes and the response from strangers on the street was incredible. Wherever we would go in downtown Chicago all kinds of people would pause life for a few moments and start dancing it up with us! It was so inspiring to see how such an iconic device representing such a pivotal musical movement in American history would bring people together. Yeah, to be cheesy it was magic but it really struck a chord with me. I realized this genre, Hip Hop is something that many Americans not only relate too but also are proud of. Because Hip Hop formed in the US I feel it’s something that unites us and can span many divides. These thoughts were the initial spark behind the Bling Box series and it’s this unifying contagious spirit that I wanted to capture and celebrate.

Can you explain the process in designing your installation?

The idea to combine 8 Boom Boxes in a surround sound experience initially was to highlight that the growth of the Hip Hop movement as a very inclusive and organic movement; for it was born in a party scene with turntables and microphones. It was this festive nature and the simplicity of the technology used, that made it accessible to super broad range of people enabling different fractions and styles to pop up almost over night even as Hip Hop was just taking form. With the surround sound installation I was able to emphasize this notion by separating geographic styles in a 3-D environment. A Boom Box on one side of the installtion will be playing a beat from a east coast artist while the one the opposite side a west coast artist.

On top of this, often times these artists will be sampling from the same source song thus I can match the tempos of these songs and play them together on beat in a sound collage or as the technical term has it a “Mash Up”. I constructed this (rather abridged) 30minute audio tour in this collaged manner to accentuate Hip Hop’s communal nature of sampling.

I Love the concept of never can say goodbye records and taking an empty space specifically one that has such a value emotionally in the community as Tower records,how did this relate to your connection with the actual store?

Being that I moved to NY in late 2008 I never had a chance to go to the Tower Records store while it was open but of course I did have my local music store growing up where we’d congregate to talk music and check out the latest releases. Being involved in the show one could not deny the overwhelming sense of nostalgia for the sacred music meeting place. I heard much talk glorifying these times gone by which was often subtlety underlined with mild contempt for how new music technology is responsible for the death of this scene. I would argue though, that sure the days of the mega store, which used to be home of these interactions are gone, but a new platform of music dialogue and exchange has been born. Music chartrooms and blogs are a plenty on the Internet; offering a new space for the age-old scene of music dialogue and swapping. It may not be a physical space but it is very much real.

What’s next for you?

Next for me, I just Had a Solo Show with Jackie Paper at the Scope Art Fair in early March. As for up coming, I have a solo show at the National Arts Club here at Gramercy park in NY, Opening on April 30th, then for the Miami Basel I will be showing once again with Jackie Paper and I’m currently talking with Real Art Ways in Hartford Connecticut about doing a 3 month Solo Exhibition starting in December this year.