Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Simon Denny

I did an interview with Simon Denny last year that was never really used full and it was great. With his kind permission, I felt it would be nice to share it in its full form here:

What do you find interesting about exploring ideas around technology in a less obviously tech sculptural form?

As a friend recently said to me, you can't define a term using that term. Effects of the digital are not always best explored using those selfsame mechanics of the digital.

What attracts you about screens and TV in particular?

Over the last say 10 years TV, both as a system and an object has undergone many major structural and contextual changes. It is no longer considered to be the dominant popular medium and is increasingly less of a distinct system unto itself – the digitalization of broadcast and introduction of HD makes it more flexible and it is increasingly more integrated with the internet. The type of television being produced has also changed to favor more epic, ”quality” HBO-style productions and MTV-style “reality” shows. as a result of this many people seem to no longer see the medium as inherently trashy. This has all occurred at the same time as TV monitors themselves have changed drastically in form and technology. Also screens, which have been a part of our lives increasingly over the past century, have reached a certain point where one basically does nothing without encountering them. As an artist I find it important to process our relationship to the built environment. And as an exhibition maker I need to be very aware of how screens read within exhibitions. The TV set used to be read as an icon of a trashy media-giant dominant bully, leading society astray. Now it means something else to us – and exploring what that is is part of what I’m interested in.

What do you like about playing with perception in your work? (Rather than 2d or 3d maybe you should be 2 1/2 dimensional?)

2.5 dimensional… ha ha. I recently made a 3D video of a walk through a factory in a small German town that chromes metal products for major international cruise ships – including the gigantic and complex funpark/boats made for the company that is known for making a little animated mouse very famous in the movies. Re-introducing 3D is one of the attempts of the consumer electronics/entertainment industry to create new must-see experiences that mean you have to go to the movies or buy a new kind of TV to experience them – you can’t just watch pirated versions for nothing on the internet. So the return of 3D is a stark economic attempt to save certain key streams of revenue in those industries. The relationship between 2D and 3D also happens to be a very important problem in the history of modernist art. So the intersection of the concerns of the contemporary entertainment industry’s economically-motivated format evolution and pictorial issues from art of the last 130 odd years is a pretty alluring thing to look at.

There is an interesting tension between the stable and unstable in your work - objects seem to be nailed in place. Or at the other end of the spectrum slipping somehow. What do you like about those states?

These properties are part of a grammar of sculpture that I first encountered with Arte Povera, which I was a big fan of when I started making exhibitions. They continue to be helpful when describing something like obsolescence cycles.

Some of your titles make reference to screen and video yet they are made with different materials, not straight videos. What draws you to that contrast?

I think we are living in a moment when we often don’t know what it is that we are looking at. When we look at an object, a lot of information that enables us to make sense of that object is just simply not available. This is even more the case when we experience things through screens – so much information is missing. By making things that claim to be videos but are only echoes of some formal qualities that surround the experience of viewing a video (kind of object ghosts of the viewing experience) I hope to communicate some of that feeling.

Some of your materials are overtly prosaic, domestic or functional. What do you find interesting about the readymade?

As I say, I am often totally baffled by the experience of objects, so being able to determine how much information one has access to around an object and how one receives this info is really engaging for me. It can be even more challenging to play with these dynamics around objects we are used to living closely with, because we think we know what they’re about. Using found objects in an exhibition is also different for me than the readymade, which carries this more specific history.

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