The Gallery and the Video Game
We got a chance to sit down with the artist, to discuss all things digital, while he was setting up his spine-tingling installation. CYLCES opens at Lucas Lucas Friday, April 6th. PS for a next-level look at the work— see the show's centerpiece here. Zoom in, or out— and feel free to share your screenshot.
Do you feel your fascination and focus on mass media and the effects of advertising is derived from the fear of this phenomenon or an appreciation?
Well it’s absolutely both because one, I think as a conscious artist it’s impossible not to be aware of the constant battle for your interest and soul, even, passing through the world where advertisements are constantly around you. I start by saying that it’s a smart thing to have an appreciation of things you fear, because then you can be scared of them smartly. So with the question do I feel my fascination with mass media, what does it derive from, it’s more the awareness that it’s maybe the most important facet of the majority people’s lives, consciously or unconsciously, for even me who is conscious of it I’m someone who’s possessed by it. Seeing an advertisement is a way to see how someone sees society, so that in itself is scary to see happening. In the same vein you can look at how someone like Andy Warhol came directly out of the advertising world, who definitely understood how appreciation and fear mix together in art, I think at the time his art was scary for people, was scary for the art world, and in many ways contemporary art often doesn’t sit well with people. Where I’m coming from is the conscious appreciation and fear of modern art and modern advertising.
What drew you to incorporate psychoanalysis in this project?
It’s not that I’m actively trying to make work based around psychoanalysis, but every image carries that weight of the potential to psychoanalyze the individual looking at it through their interpretation of it, because that’s what we’re almost programmed to do: to connect these things personally to ourselves whenever we see something with a minute resemblance to something familiar. I’m trying to depart from what I think should be seen, I don’t try and work as an artist to present something necessarily concrete, I’m moving through this work, I look at my work and I can see the flow, rather than a rigid structure of meaning. I’m a big Rauschenburg fan, and he said that meaning was an economical way to feel — that’s something I carry with me in my work. In the sense that psychoanalysis is attempting to tell you the meaning of something, I am very directly trying to, for lack of better word, rebel against that, to counteract that kind of pressure that we feel as people in society by giving out a work and an image that is able to be freely entered into without the anxiety that you’re participating in something you don’t understand, which is often what psychoanalysis is.
Has the process of producing this work altered your personal perspective and/or mentality either positively or negatively?
Well, I think anyone is able to make this kind of work. It’s just finding images you like and cutting them out on PhotoShop and putting them together. It’s also who I am and who I’ve grown up as, especially as an individual so connected to the internet and its culture, I think that is what would’ve altered my mentality either positively or negatively — just having participated in the internet since I was like, 14 years old, and all the amazing and awful things that exposes you to. I think that’s why I try to make this overwhelming work, because there’s an overwhelming amount of stuff to interact with that can be interpreted in both a negative and positive way. But to answer the question more directly, I’d say it’s definitely a positive thing for me mentally as someone who deals with anxiety for some reasons that I’m not fully able to articulate this is a very therapeutic experience just going through and making these works, as I said it’s not particularly skilled, anyone can do it, but putting my thoughts on my previous questions I’m able to get something positive out of both the positive and the negatives that I’ve experienced as a citizen on the ground and on the internet.
What do you want observers of this show to take away?
I would like them to remember a specific part of the piece, I think in its display it’s awesome that everyone can take a picture next to their favorite part of it and I think just in having that mental, personal screenshot it gives that individual a chance to think about an image or collection of images that has not been manifested to entice something particular in them, that they can have solace in the fact that they like this image because of who they are, not because of something that’s being triggered by the circus of psychoanalysis in advertising. So maybe a more transcendent experience with images rather than something as direct as advertising. I want everyone in the world to be able to interact with the work — I uploaded the main image to a site and you can zoom in on a specific part and screenshot that and I’ve been posting those screenshots online as a collection and advertisement for the show in itself.
Where do see your work lies on a spectrum of art as an aesthetic to art as activism?
I’m often deflective of the idea of my work as participatory in on-the-grounds activism right now because I think if your work isn’t in conflict with something then you’re not making something worth discussing and having shown, honestly, but that’s just how I feel about art. That, in itself, I think places my work on a level of activism where I’m directly working against something I feel is prevalent in society, but I think when you say “activism” it’s seen as a directly political thing where political activism right now I feel is very black and white, with figureheads that you can easily point to and terms that you can easily say, and I’m not critiquing that kind of movement, it’s just not what I’ve dedicated myself and my thought to be against intelligently. What I do feel I can speak on intelligently is the larger scope of psychoanalysis in advertising, like we’ve been saying, and if we can bring it down from that initial conversation of the larger scope into how that plays out in politics, I’m more than happy to talk about that — but I don't entertain pigeonholing of the work, saying this is standing for something. It’s standing for a much larger breadth of understanding that I wish more people were able to apply to themselves and the larger world, so that’s what I am in conflict with and an activist for.
What is your choice way consuming media? Do you think Instagram in particular is positive for creativity and culture?
I love video games. I’m going to continue to put that out there, I think there are amazing steps being taken for it to be a media experience that should be experienced by a human because it’s a testament to where we are as a species, because basically the leaps and bounds of these studios, small and large, to create experiences, in the same way that advertising is used in a much more sneaky and sudden and finite way to pluck at your heartstrings, at your desires and wants. But in games recently I felt like you are given a choice how to have those strings plucked, and it’s less of a funnel you’re being pushed through and it goes back to that breadth of experience. Right now it’s a niche thing, but that’s definitely how I like to consume my media: in an interactive, direct and hi-resolution way. Then we can move on from just having a PC that can run those things, you can watch movies in hi-definition — I’m really into hi-definition, take a look at my work, it like sticks your face in it. So Instagram, I love Instagram… I think. No social media should be taken too seriously, if you’re trying to put yourself out there you’re going to run into some like Greek tragedy loop of like, 'what does it mean to be me.' I don’t think you should do that, I think you should be okay with the fact that you’re someone else online, as much as that person is similar to the person on the ground, separate the two. So for art, I think many artists are not themselves when they make art, in a good way, if you were the artist as yourself I don’t think many people would be able to put up with you all the time, so I think it’s a great way to show the world their work without having to be social all the time, it’s a great way of interacting with people without being in a room full of people, which can often put me off about it. I love instagram, I think technology is amazing, as long as we can keep a grip of it as far as the sharing of information, we should feel comfortable combining ourselves with it as much as we can.
What do you want to have done as an artist by the end of your life / career?
To have left a body of work that resonates with people that I might not necessarily understand as someone that’s died a few generations ago. I want to be making work that’s on this large breadth of understanding, that people who wouldn’t even connect with me as a person… I’m stumbling here because it’s a very large question, but I think the important thing is having work that transcends the moment, and I want that to be what people feel, Friday the 6th, after my death one hundred years from now, possibly, and have people able to gain something in that moment as well. Maybe I’ll be able to feel it in the ether, but if that’s happening I’ll feel a moment of peace as an artist; to have accomplished a level of success that can’t be measured monetarily. But on top of that I would absolutely love that kind of success to be able to transition my art into something that’s public, rather than something that has to be experienced through the art world, I think this can be for everybody, maybe it has something for people who don’t feel initiated into the world of art, which is definitely a thing.
What was your favorite movie or tv show as a child?
Cartoons definitely, Angry Beavers, Rocko’s Modern Life, Acqu Teen Hunger Force and Adult Swim, but I’d have to say the shows that really formed me, like my humor, my person, would be Adult Swim, Tim and Eric, those guys are still hitting on levels of comedy and society that not everyone is appreciative of, and therefore they can laugh at the Old Spice commercials they’ve come up with, I love they’ve been injected into every form of pop culture in a sneaky way, and I would love to do the same thing.
What is your favorite and least favorite advertisement?
Well I remember the video, the ad for some salmon company and it’s a guy fighting a bear who just caught a salmon out of the river and the bear starts boxing, but that was from me seeing it on the internet, which is funny since people can see out their funniest advertisements, and experience the ad for their own entertainment. I hate every kind of car commercial, I don’t get why they’re being produced, I find it so weird when they’re like, “the Easter special sales event,” or every kind of fucking holiday, and it’s the same man or woman in this condescending tone, just like, you don’t have this car?, you’re one of these people in the advertisement that’s just sad, and bald, and look at how much hair these people have and how happy they are, and it brings us back to how this psychoanalysis in advertising originally started which was selling women these huge Cadillacs to give them a penis — in the same way that Edward Bernays gave women a penis through a cigarette, go look it up!, the Thanksgiving Day Parade how women began smoking cigarettes in society because it was deemed unladylike, but the cigarette companies were like, oh that’s 50% of possible revenue, like we have to stop this, so they changed the way people thought about cigarettes, and made it this empowering, penile projection and boom, here we are, everyone is smoking, it’s that simple. It’s happening a lot more, but it started with cars and it remains with cars. Fuck car commercials.