Who are you?
Where are you?
What are you researching/interested in?
As a contemporary artist/researcher, and general human being, I’m really interested in the networked world. In particular, what results from a collective online conscious through questioning notions of what is considered the ‘self’ in a world where multiple versions of such exist, in many different places at once. So, in short, I’m exploring how as individuals we are more omnipresent now than we ever have been, historically speaking. To do this, I’ve been theoretically researching ‘spam’ for the last two years – the kind you receive through the net. I’m interested in the way that this dark space of the internet is a byproduct of contemporaneity; how it exists as more than an artifice or a collection of online misconduct, but that it’s more deeply rooted than that surface judgement – it brings forward this whole eco system of needs and desires relative to human psychological experience. For example, I’ve referred time and time again to Spam’s relation to Abraham Maslow’s Hierachy of Needs, and the idea of ‘self actualisation’. Through my own encounters with spam, primarily through my inbox, I have formed a sort of archive for the work I produce; it is always the source of the starting point to any project. My own relationship with the internet is so important, as it’s at once my own but also collectively shared. It’s been a really eye opening experience by having such a specific research topic because it’s brought so many different forms of research forward from so many different avenues. It’s really made me realise spam can be considered present within everything, making it a endlessly prosperous topic. I have so much further to go, but how far that will be, I’m unsure!
What is your work (specific or general) trying to say?
I’m trying to practically focus my concerns on this fraught relationship between materiality and immateriality, where the offline and the online meet and exist in a linear fashion. I feel like spam is really the key for me to be able to do that within a studio setting. Personally, I think it can quite seem cliche to focus on the internet as somebody dealing in the contemporary. As an artist, when I go to exhibitions and I see other work which tries to confront the networked world, it all generally shares quite a similar aesthetic and value; a lot of what has been done, has been overdone. It’s not really a surprise because it’s such a huge part of our global socio- cultural climate, but I just feel like there is a real lack of momentum to really push the internet to corners that remain in the dark – to confront the fragility and vulnerability of the medium. In my work I utilise the digital, but I do think I avoid ‘net aesthetics’ because I’ve tried to distance my pieces from the net in order for each one to act as a placeholder for discussion and debate. What does each individual component in my work mean? What narrative informs the dialogue here? What does this megaphone mean in relation to this small pile of sand? Each work is communicating a different aspect of my research. It’s difficult though, this year has really been testing for me because in previous years I’ve strained to make a lot of visual material. I think I’ve realised that each piece or component doesn’t have to necessarily communicate an individual meaning, but just inform a conversation that takes place outside of the internet; and that has been really freeing. It’s kind of stepping away from the internet in order to formulate an alternate understanding of it.
Who is your artwork for?
My work is for me, but everybody says that… It satisfies my curiosities, but I also think on a broader scale my work is for anybody engaged with the world through the canon of the net. I feel like my research offers a new perspective or abstraction, for anybody who has an interest or has an experience in what I’m trying to realise. My research project and process are kind of behind closed doors in a way. I consolidate a lot of research in order to make my own understanding of what i’m trying to say but as an audience member you never see that side of the project. You just see these kind of visual manifestations of the research as a sculptural installation. You don’t really have an awareness that this project is really about spam, you can make these links which can be quite obvious at times, but as said previously, a lot of it is based on formulating conversation about the qualities of spam rather than it as an actual thing. In my recent work I’ve talked about ideas of love, money, intimacy, success and combined them in these thematic pieces. Especially when I do crits and things like that, I’ve always drawn on themes and elaborated on them without actually stating that they’re linked to spam at all.
Can you explain a pivotal artwork of yours?
I think a pivotal artwork of mine would have to be one that I don’t really consider my work at all. Its a disc that I got through my letter box last summer in 2017 titled ‘Jesus Christ, Our Lord, God, Holy Spirit, Hallelujah’.
I was kind of made aware once I’d posted it online that it had been circulated around the entire local area. This was my first encounter with a physical piece of spam since I had started the whole project. The way I saw it was the tagline on spam emails; I only had the front of this disc to guide my interpretation of it’s content. I actually didn’t look at the disc until just before Easter this year, so I hadn’t seen it for half a year nearly. It triggered this trail of thought where I tried to work out how I could objectify spam through my own practice and what it means to objectify something through that
immaterial-material relationship. I derived from theproject that the spammable object can only exist as an image. For example, the quality of the image of something is what is ‘’spammable’,not the actual physical thing itself. I think that was really key to me understanding my own practice and where it sits. It was the source of alot of writings, crits, discussions and workshops.
Having these objects, both physical and image based, to bring into crits has really opened eyes to how other people have interpreted the material. I created a workshop out of the disc and had people discuss and respond to it, a lot of people gendered the disc as male and referred to the person behind the disc as ‘he’ and ‘him’ and ‘his’ intentions. I thought this was really interesting as it says a lot about how people interpret misconduct on the internet and who’s behind these kind of things; that it’s a very gendered experience almost. Although a subject I find challenging on a personal level, I’m interested in why these kinds of spam messages ‘work’ in the contemporary age and what that reveals about society. Although channeled through gender roles, I think spam’s inherent reasoning is applicable to everyone.
Can you give one piece of advice?
I feel as though it can be considered a bit of a cop-out for an artist to consider their main body of work their research practice. Its almost as if everything that you do as an artist, or every step that you take has to have some sort of visual realisation. I just don’t think that viewpoint in a contemporary context is actually relevant at all and I would say, one piece of advice would be refine your research and be as thorough as you can. Push yourself to know and feel more in relation to what your interested in, use your visual practice as a tool and mode of experimentation and allow it to form the time for you to follow your intuition and play with your abilities as an artist.
think its her first exhibition in the UK ever, which is insane because she’s just incredible. The whole show is formulated on her forming commentary, not necessarily critiquing, the ways inwhich diaspora are represented within network technology. She references ideas of the post- internet and the oppositional gaze, which is a term coined by Bell Hooks. She doesn’t avoid net aesthetics, but she abstracts and subverts it in such a way you can’t recognise the narrative any longer. It really takes time to kind of contemplate what the work is actually about; it took me like two or three visits to the show for me to fully understand where she was coming from. She really sent me on this weird trip, thinking I was really ignorant or missing the point or if this work was really convoluted. It was a long experience trying to write a review about this exhibition. It was just really well done, a unique take on the internet, identity and how its represented through network technology.
So I have my degree show and graduation. I’m staying in London so I’m here for the foreseeable future pretty much. I’ve been talking to a couple of people about trying to find a graphic designer to collaborate with. I’m really interested in having this multi-disciplinary approach to my practice, incorporating my work with graphic design. I think it goes hand-in-hand, but a lot of people don’t like the relationship between the two. In terms of the internet they can really inform each other in an important way, so I’m on the lookout!