>> The Sound Projector #11
- Feature Interview
Jesse is not exclusively a sound-artist or a musician, although he has worked
in those areas - trained in Fine Art and graphic design in his home town
of Colorado, he moved to Seattle some ten years ago and has since made something
of a name for himself in the city's art galleries and installation areas
with, amongst many other works, his 'Secret Records'. These nifty colourful
art-objects are remoulds of old vinyl discs cast in resin mixed with foreign
bodies and exhibited with old record players; they were something of a instant
'hit' with diverse audiences. For more on the Secret Records story, see
Twins' interview; I was impressed enough myself to write a breathless
review in issue 7, and to name-drop Jesse's work in a review of Philip Jeck's
music, assuming that everyone had heard of him. When friends Rob Millis and
Jeff Taylor sponsored him for materials and helped him to release a recording
of the Secret Records, the multi-media tie-in added to the minor buzz and
propelled Jesse into a position above the herd of ambitious art students.
Modestly dismissing all this as so much Seattle-based 'hype' and figuring
he simply got lucky, Jesse has constantly striven to move on from that position
and not allow a 'gimmick' to become an albatross for him and his fertile
In any case, the Secret Records kind of grew out of what Jesse finds around
him (his downtown apartment is packed with a rich organic growth of pickings
and trash that Robert Rauschenberg would delight in). Picking up cheap LPs
at garage sales, flea markets and house clearances, he sometimes strikes
lucky and finds a rarity fit for auction on e-bay. Mostly, he discovers a
mosaic of discarded popular culture that - when you hear enough of it - amounts
to a quilt-like image of the underbelly of America's psyche. A double-CDR
of his delvings into the world of one-dollar discs was one of my treasured
parting gifts, a bizarre mix of surf music, polka tunes, sentimental organ
music, patriotic songs, sound effects LPs...and you know the sort of thing.
Now tentatively reaching into the world of sound art, working with Pro Tools
to manipulate environmental recordings, Jesse is realising one of his strengths
in creating simple systems-based works - be they installations, group
collaborations, or mixed media events, where the art is generated out of
a set of rules, producing simple self-generating patterns of coincidence,
or chaos. But far from being a rigid conceptualist, Miller is a resolutely
eccentric thinker, trusting in his intuition and daydreaming approach to
steer him to a better sea. Steadfastly refusing to commit himself to a single
set of interpretations, or indeed a single working method, Miller continues
to restlessly explore the strange world inside his head. I think the interview
below - riddled with fascinating contradictions, sidetracks and meanderings
- will give some flavour of what it's like in there.
Date: 25 April 2002
Location: A coffee house in downtown Seattle
Present: EP and JPM
IT'S NO SECRET...MAKING THE SECRET RECORDS
EP Why did you come to Seattle?
JPM I came here because of music! I had friends here and I visited
and a lot of music was happening here. It was in 1992, Nirvana and all that
stuff. At that time the whole grunge thing brought a lot of young people.
I think Seattle overall was just getting a lot of hype at that time. When
I arrived here I realised that Seattle has a much more diverse music scene
than just the rock and roll. And I just fell in love with it, I was mystified
by it. There were a lot of creative people. Just the creative aspect of the
city, and it's a more liberal city, it's West Coast, more liberal than Colorado.
People are a little more respectful of diversity here - they're not gonna
get in your face about their opinions or something. All those factors came
together and I ended up here. Spent a couple of years here just working and
not really knowing the right people. Finding the right people was really
great! Scott Colburn,
Rob Millis, Jeff Taylor, the guys in
Sun City Girls,
Matt Shoemaker, we're all like a family. Friends of mine who are artists,
or artist-musicians. That's another thing I love about Seattle - it seems
like everybody here plays music and does art! I think there's a healthy scene
EP When did you start making the Secret Records?
JPM It was part of living in the house with Scott Colburn, and having
Rob and Jeff come by - they're both really encouraging towards me and my
work. I took this record, I had this idea...I wonder if I could make a [record
cast], what would it sound like? So I took a Jonah Jones record, and I cast
some resin...I just saw the grooves and I knew that resin, in the medical
industry, you can cast very microscopic [details]. I've seen photographs,
people can cast cells in resin. So I knew it was sensitive. Poured it in.
Of course, it works! I put it on the turntable and it played, and it was
all beautiful. Wow, look at this! I run downstairs and Rob Millis - they
were down there recording in the basement of the house. So then Rob, he was
encouraging and he said 'you should make more of these'. So I did. You know
I think a lot of my art is...having those guys around me inspired me at the
time. They're real important.
EP When was this?
JPM Oh, it was 1996-1997. I was also doing tapes. I made a little
fake tape-trading label...and I was doing all the covers. It wasn't really
a label, I was just interested in the idea of a label. I made a little catalogue.
And that's actually how I met Rob and Jeff, was they sent me a cassette,
the timing was perfect, that was the first thing that they'd done. [It was
called] Skin Records. Yeah, I remember I even made funny like fake stickers!
It was sort of my own private little art project.
EP And there was no music, was it just a [conceptual] label?
JPM No, there was [music]....there were other groups. Like my friend
and I John, we did a sound collage called Algae. Chris Blue, who of all things
is in The Presidents of the United States of America, he did some brilliant
pop stuff, he had something that he gave me by a local artist. It was just
this odd mix of noise and underground pop tapes...it was just who I had run
into and met through the years I'd lived in Seattle. And asked 'em, do you
wanna just list it [in my catalogue]? And if somebody wants it, mail it to
em. It was just a trading project. And it wasn't really about me making business,
it was about seeing what it was about by experiencing it. Nobody cared that
EP Didn't Rob and Jeff give you the money to get the resin for the
JPM Yeah, they funded me a couple of times. I would make the records
in different batches and they gave me some money. I bought 70 dollars of
the resin, and I made a handful of records. When the single was released,
we did a limited edition of 375 copies. I made 25 Fire Breathing Turtle Secret
Record 7-inchers, and they went in packages with the singles. We had a record
release party at Wall of Sound, and they all [sold] that night! At the same
time, Trevor Fairbrother who was curator for the Seattle Art Museum, had
just called me and seen my records up at Wall of Sound. He said, 'do you
wanna show these at the Seattle Art Musuem?' So the whole project just [took
off]...there was a lotta hype around it! In Seattle, there's a lotta hype.
Seattle's sort of a hype-sensitive kind of town. I've had a number of
exhibitions. I started with one a little gallery called Bubba Mavis, and
Wall of Sound Records. Then Project 416 was another, another big alternative
EP At this time you were putting foreign objects into the resin.
JPM For me the [records] were this great meeting-point. I grew up
playing music and doing artwork, I was encouraged to do both. And I realised
I'm not a musician, and I can apply art in doing graphic design. But for
me the records were the perfect meeting of the two. I'm really interested
in doing collage and painting and I like to do sculpture. You know, the
sound...the object...the idea of casting...the idea that I could draw on
something or paint on something and then drop it into this object that then
made sound out of the layers. That really appealed to me. It said everything
I wanted to say, all at once.
EP Any significance to the original record you choose, to make the
original casting of?
JPM I always tried to find records that people didn't want! It ties
in with my interest in finding records on as a collector - crummy records,
90-cent records, trash records. I ended up finding that they were fascinating,
how they revealed this underbelly of American culture. But when I used one
as a mould for a Secret Record, I always wanted to make the record not readily
recognisable - a brand-name pop artist, or the artist that created the music.
I was interested in specific records, like bad organ records, whale records,
children's records. They hold these sounds that people don't usually hear,
that are really fascinating. They're a time capsule of an era. A sector of
culture. I think some of the most surreal records are children's records!
EP It would be so easy for a lot of artists to treat the source material
with absolute contempt, and just say 'this is some piece of trash'. Jeff
Koons...Mike Kelley, for example, I think is ever-so-faintly sneering at
the [popular origins] of his sources. You're kind of embracing it, in a way.
JPM Yeah, I'm embracing it, but I'm also destroying the records in
the process of casting. The record can survive the casting process, but usually
they don't. That's maybe the sacrifice that they make. But I think it's
EP When did you start exhibiting them with turntables?
JPM Right from the start, I was preparing them with turntables. I
had a show at Project 416 and I was putting them on turntables, and the people
coming to the gallery could pick them up and just handle 'em and discover
for themselves the sounds. I liked the whole idea of the person being in
the situation. The breakdown between the art and the viewer, the viewer being
able to interact and not be afraid of the artwork. I'm interested in those
bigger issues of art and hierarchies. High art, low art. Why do you have
to have an education to understand art? The money aspects of art. Those issues
sort of tie in to some of the situations that I've worked with. I think it's
who I am, it's in my personality.
JPM The environmental recordings I've been gathering for years. I'm
treating them like a collage. This one piece I've been working on with a
laser machine. Instead of dropping objects into this resin, with the new
technology like ProTools and my Imac - I'm able to record the sounds from
these places that I go and combine them in collage form. I like the visual
aspect of ProTools and the layering that one can do. I don't really consider
it music. It can reference music, and there are some parts of it that are
like music. Then I make a CD. Again, this ties in with my interest in foraging.
I go to thrift stores a lot. I found a laser machine that was made in the
80s, that projects a laser when you play a sound from a stereo. The laser
makes a pattern that corresponds to the sounds, so you can see the sounds,
much like any laser show. So I've made this multi-part piece, with the sounds
playing through this laser. I have a frosted acrylic box, it hangs on the
wall. It has a laser mounted in the back. The laser plays on the front and
the insides, and it has headphones. Again, it's the access of hearing, between
the seen and the heard. The person can watch this laser dance around and
hear this collage of sounds. A lot of what I do is collage in some way. I
guess it's layered - a lot of layers, a lot of fragmentary elements that
I put together that are a lot of times, disparate. That reference other things.
That reference other references! And I put them together in these small systems,
that may or may not make sense to people, but I like to turn that around.
Turn peoples' references around, turn technology around. Try and cause people
to think twice about things that they take for real in the world.
EP You seem a very hands-on kind of artist. All the stuff I've seen
- your drawings, castings, sculptures. Your approach to ProTools as well.
That's a programme that requires some awareness of technology I suppose,
but you seem very intuitive the way that you manipulate the blocks [of sound]
around. I think this is good, you're more like an old-fashioned craftsman.
JPM Yeah, I believe in that. I had a teacher who taught me...I was
already intuitive, and he encouraged me. He said being intuitive is very
important. I believe that. Whether it's dated or not, you can use new technology
or old technology. [But] intuition - there's certain aspects of human behaviour,
your soul or whatnot, that are universal. I'm interested in maintaining that
old-fashioned universal approach to creating. I think there's art about
technology which is [transient] - technology comes and goes, but if there's
nothing about the human spirit in the art...I like the layers of history
that one can present in a package, or a sculpture. I'm into that idea of
the future and the past, and looking back at our times...I think about that,
what are people gonna make of what people do now? Will anything come through
that they can understand, or even care about? I also like making tons of
historical references, and layering those as well as the materials. I just
set up systems and situations and let other people decide. That's what I
like, just taking all these technologies and putting them together, and not
trying to control it all the time, letting things be. Our whole world is
so quantified in science. I definitely believe that there's a lot more out
there than what we see as the framework of our minds, and what's set up.
And why not? Be a little absurd, or show those things to people, and twist
what's natural for them a little bit, and cause them to wonder a bit. Wonder
about what else is there. I like to create multi-part pieces that draw on
a lot of different media and materials that can't necessarily be put into
one kind of box. I'm always trying to cobble little bits of this and that
together. I envision my life's work as this giant machine, that has all these
little parts. Slowly building it, piece by piece. It has about seven thousand
and 79 parts, and someday I'll get it right and I'll drive it down the street!
It may take me 30 years or so.
EP So in a way you're saying that each little project is part of the
same thing, part of one big machine.
JPM I think so, yeah. At this point in my life at least, I find I
have been saying the same thing over and over with different methods.
EP You've done one or two performance based things, like when you
project films in a live situation?
JPM I did one piece for an April Fool's day show, where I rented and
wore a Cookie Monster suit...it was kind of playing around with the whole
notion of authenticity...well, I'll just leave it at that! I rented a Cookie
Monster suit, just the body, but it was called Cookie Muncher, it wasn't
Cookie Monster! And Twerpy-Bird's head! It wasn't Tweetie-Bird. I made myself
into a mutant! I was a living cartoon. Then I did a performance where I had
an amplified guitar, I cut it in half with a saw, in the suit, while it was
amplified. I remounted it on the wall and restrung it, so then people could
play it. Again, it doesn't illustrate one specific point, it's a lot of things
that I'm interested in, and it's a moment of action. It was in 1998. I think
even that [performance] is sort of a collage - it's a time based collage,
a performance or situation-based collage. I love surrealism, I love humour
and cartoons, I love drawing from your childhood. That was what was around
me, the media, when I was a child.
EP What about the film projections with the Climax Golden Twins
JPM Oh, my wife [Linda Peschong] and I, we call ourselves Lepus Labs,
and we've been doing live film collages for Climax Golden Twins, and we've
done about 25 different shows. All we do is set up two projectors. I'll prepare
film loops, I've also made straight films through editing [old films] - I
inherited a bunch of films from my uncle, so I use those as sources. A lot
of stock photography or stock films. So I cut and paste, and manipulate these
films and make loops, and we have two projectors. Linda has made slides -
she runs the slide projector, and she makes slides and puts natural materials
into them, drawings, bits of magazines, gels and whatnot. I've done shows
where I'll draw [directly] on the film loop live, with a pencil. Yeah, it's
fun. Every show is different. When [the band] begin, we start a living collage
EP Apparently I hear that audiences are amazed, because occasionally
you get a wonderful coincidence of music which matches the image. It fits
together perfectly and you could never repeat it in a million years.
JPM Yes, I think the human mind has a need for order. People always
say that and it just cracks me up. 'It went so perfectly! How did you guys
do that?' It's like phasing or something. We are concerned about it, we are
aware, and there are moments when we will start and end something [so that
it synchronises], but within that [space] - let's say a timed film loop -
it's randomness. So [it lies] somewhere between the utterly random and the
utterly controlled. Sometimes they work amazingly well, sometimes they don't
make any sense!
IN THE ART GALLERIES
EP What other art shows have you been in, that you've enjoyed?
JPM The Tornado show...that was in Chicago in February 2002. That
was a collaboration with a lot of artists. Paul Davies, Greg Miller, Leslie
Clay, Tyler Caffery. We did a big jam session essentially. Brought a lot
of our different skills to this show. It was a three-dimensional architectural
representation of wood flying around that was pulled up by a tornado. With
the imagery from tornadoes - there was video that was manipulated, outputs
of tornadoes, in a sequence. I took over a thousand samples of fragments
and real tornado sounds from off of the Internet. Again, it was another system
that I devised. Put them on nine CDs and they went to different speakers
which were inside these boxes, hidden within this structure. As one went
to the centre of the structure, it set off triggers which would turn on and
off these different sounds. So it was always changing. There was a musical
EP You're finding it slightly ironic, that there's artists coming
up now who look up to you as somebody who's made it?
JPM I've done what I did. I just do my thing and I made the art and
I displayed it. I had enthusiasm for what I did. I think a lot of it was
beautiful timing and I got some local recognition which put me in another
place in other people's minds, because I was seen by a much larger audience.
So I went through this process. I'm 34 years old and an artist who's going
to Washington may be 27. They may be a peer or a friend of mine. They come
up to me, they've seen something that I do. It's that whole blow-up effect
of the media writing about me and making me into this art god that I'm not!
I'm just somebody who's making art. And again, it's the hype in Seattle thing.
It's not New York here - there aren't 10,000 artists at each other's necks.
When one person gets recognition, it's like a blow-up for that one person...it's
the big fish in the small pond. But it's really nice to have that success.
To have worked and do my own thing for five years and not achieve some
recognition, that would have been frustrating...but I don't think [recognition]
is necessary. What is important in making art? Is it the fame aspect, or
is it what you say, or is it doing it? I don't have any choice, I'm hard-wired!
I'd be doing it anyway, I'm a creative nutcase! You could just put me out
in a field with some worms and sticks and some soil and I'll probably collaborate
with it and we'll get something together! Nothing's gonna stop me from doing
EP Do you think sound art has the potential to be an interesting area?
JPM Sound art - it's all terminology. Sometimes I wonder if I'm even
an artist. I just explore in my life. So for me a lot of that [terminology]
is invalid. I'm not so concerned about knowing what the race is, and being
in it, and knowing what the new thing is. It's nice to see sound-art being
considered as artwork. Ever since someone started pursuing it, there have
been good things to be said about it. Apparently - I've heard it's trendy
right now in the art world. I know there are amazing artists. I've seen a
number of things that blow me away, made by artists 30 years ago. I'm more
influenced by contemporary composers than sound art, I have a bigger knowledge
of them than I do of sound art. There's some crossover...John Cage is huge
for me...he's all-encompassing. I really like Xenakis. I was just in Chicago.
They teach sound as part of their arts curriculum. There was a guy showing
me the drivers that David Tudor used to make amplified walls.
EP With John Cage, have you studied his ideas, read his books?
JPM I know the fundamentals about him. I don't have a deep knowledge
of Cage and all his theories, but I love his idea of bringing Zen to the
Western world. Why did all of a sudden someone get the stamp of bringing
the ideas of Zen to the west? I think the only reason he is well-known is
because the [cultural history] machine decided that Americans are ready for
Zen, or for mysticism. There's a whole movement in the 1950s - the abstract
expressionists, John Cage, and here in Seattle the North-West mystics - Morris
Graves. Cage had an amazing mind, and there's so much that he has done. Some
of the situations that he set up. That's what I like about John Cage, that
he did continue to explore and push systems and ideas and materials. And
his treatment of the piano; the physical aspects of dealing with sound, changing
sound with an object.
EP What excites you about art generally?
JPM I like artwork that is big and grand, something that reaches physical
extremes at certain points. I like art that pushes the viewer to a certain
point. You can tell that the making of the artwork also [reveals] the limits
of the maker, the artist. When one gets the combination of the really great
mind, and the great resources - sometimes that can pile into a grand impression
that I really enjoy. But I also love inventiveness. When I was in New York,
somebody had done this piece where it looked as if they had completely carved
out the wall. The wall was made of marshmallows and the inside was beautiful
coloured oil paint! It was the transference, from the physical hardness of
that wall, to the real softness and suppleness...I found it amazing. Nice
piece, just spattered on the floor. Accessible and simple.
EP What's an example of art that takes the viewer to an extreme place?
JPM Damien Hirst. Charles Wray. Charles Wray pushes the viewer, only
if you are willing to dive into the pool that he's made. His work has so
many deep layers of meaning that one can delve into. I like his work, and
what he writes or says about his work. It's not exactly about what people
get out of his work. He's revealing his mind. Survival Research Laboratories
was always one that I was impressed by. I remember seeing them and their
work in San Francisco, a ground-breaking ceremony...I guess they'd emptied
all the buildings, because of the life-threatening aspects of the sound.
There's also a group called Semen which is post-SRL. I saw them at this festival
called Burning Man. The environment was much more edgy! They were pointing
this giant flame-throwing cannon right at the audience! It would blow flames,
and there would be another robot and it would crumple something and pick
it up. It's exciting, just the notion that you're in the hands of the person
that's running this machine! It's terrifying, it's a pretty heavy-duty statement.
But there's also excitement to that. There were moments of Burning Man where
I had that extreme art experience - and not even out of the art world. They
have a parade of these art cars, completely dangerous. One was this truck
with a claw, holding another truck, and the thing was about to topple over
and there was a big dragster blowing fire, and they're all making this loud
noise and - I mean, my knees were shaking standing next to them! Watching
them go by. Because of the whole implied danger of the situation.
ART IN SOCIETY - DON'T GET A JOB
JPM There are social statements I'd like to make. I'd like to make
art about people being stuck in the system and having no hope. Whenever you're
in an institution...that's a view I have of art, it may be or may not be
informed by the institution, but it exists in the real world. It doesn't
exist in the institution. Maybe it dives into the outer system, the world
system, but it affects real people. I feel really strongly that art should
not be an internalised thing for a certain group of people, that everybody
should understand it and appreciate it, and have knowledge of it. Unfortunately,
in America the public school system tends to castrate people's aesthetics.
It teaches them to be good workers, but it also teaches 'we don't want you
to be sensitive. We don't want you to understand this other side.' I had
this idea once about setting up a situation...it's not that hard-edged, but
there's a display window down the street called Seattle Rental Sales gallery.
I wanted to call this [situation] '40-hour week' and hire a temporary worker
to sit in that window as a piece. I was also thinking it might be myself
sitting in that window! They would take these old label-dots and put 'em
on rows of paper, all day long. 8 hours a day for 40 hours. The piece is
obviously the document and the dots on the paper. But I've ended up doing
that kind of thing for 8 hours [in real life], doing temp work! It's an honest
reflection of what I've gone through in my life, a version of what I know
is really going on. It's the industrial revolution, all over [again]!
EP What troubles you about the work situation, particularly?
JM Well, there's no hope in it. You have to be [mindless]. If you think about
anything, in that situation, you go mad. There's also another beautiful side
to it, which I've had. There's almost like a Zen state you can get into doing
this repetitive or simple [task]...'take these pieces of paper and staple
them together, put 'em in this sack'. The mindlessness of it. The way the
whole system is. Unless you're a certain kind of person with a certain
personality with a certain set of values, it's hard to enter it and do what
you really want to do. You end up accepting the work.
EP Did you take any action during the World Trade Organisation
JPM Not so much. I was more of an observer. I was there for it all,
and I recorded it. I made audio recordings of the event and I watched it.
I was a little bit more detached, but I was definitely into what the speakers
had to say. That changed my views. That was a crazy thing. It wasn't linear
at all, there were different groups of people flowing against each other.
These kids with Nikes on, tearing down the Nike sign. Other kids, just there
to create havoc. Breaking windows for no reason. And then activists saying
'don't do that. We have a cause!' It was very fragmented, the whole thing.
Anarchists in their gas masks, doing this whole other thing. There were big
marches. I just didn't know where I really stood on it, I think. It was
definitely putting me on the spot, and made me think 'Ok, this is it, this
is the real thing'. In a way, I chickened out. It was definitely that moment
to stand up for what you believe in.
JPM I went to the Colorado State University. I got a Bachelors in
Fine Art and graphic design, but I also took an interest in sociology. I
feel I have a wider variety of modus operandi for my work, and for my life,
than somebody who just went to an art school. It was a good situation, it
was in the 80s, we had our group of people and we all did anything we wanted.
At one point I booked a show, we took everyone on this one block that were
friends of mine, and the whole audience got up on stage, and everybody played
every instrument. The club shut us down and kicked us all out because it
upended the notion of a 'band' and all that. I painted, I made these sound
collages with my friend John...it was nice to be in a small town and not
have to worry about [imitating others]: you can't do this because that guy's
done it. There's this game that you have to play. That guy's beaten you to
it, beaten you to that achievement! I guess there was also a lot of post-punk
[feeling], a big part of my life. There was also a friend of mine Lance Barber
[doing] Radio Zero, a midnight radio show. He really informed me about all
underground music. He got every underground music-scene record and played
all night! I still have tapes...Throbbing Gristle, Killdozer, Minutemen,
Husker Du, all sorts of stuff. I've always been thirsty for learning about
music. It's funny, but a lot of the time I don't have the same thirst for
art. I think I'm almost better informed about music than art! A lot of it
[underground music] is prophetic...if you listen to the Minutemen today,
a lot of it holds up. What they have to say is still a warning, stop before
it's too late. If we're not careful we're gonna ruin everything. That's what
I get out of it. I think that's my generation. Now there's another younger
group of people that are coming in and it's become so [banal], there's none
of this critical voice that is in music any more. Very cryptic to me, with
the Internet, music is like it's all internalised, self-referential, inside
jokes...people have these little weird scenes online. The rave culture is
a very internalised culture...none of it has social critique, there's no
social critique, which I thought was very healthy. One side of my family's
from San Francisco - I was instilled with a lot of that, like you must question
the system around you, especially in America. It's a great country, but you
always have to fight for what you want here, because if you don't somebody
else will take it away from you. It's natural evolution in a way. So I think
social critique in music and in art is healthy, even if somebody's statement
is full of holes, even the fact that they make the statement is good, because
Americans- we're all hypocrites. I want to be good for the environment, and
I can do things I want to do like not buy MacDonalds, or not support this
brand of clothing. Then again of course I'm still a hypocrite - by not
essentially dropping out and being at one with the natural system one to
one. I'm still purchasing goods, but at least I'm doing one part of it, and
I apply that to what I see, the social critique.
EP The important thing is to at least ask the questions.
JPM Yes, always question what's around you. Part of my life I think
- my mission statement is - even if they're absurd questions, just to set
up a situation where people ask questions. That's a huge part of my art.
It's very simple. It's sort of general and sweeping and broad in some way,
but it's simple and I think it's universal. Question what's around you, don't
be afraid to be critical of things. It's a healthy thing to do.
I LIKE THE CRYPTIC
EP You said before that you kind of like this cryptic element to the
work you do...the art doesn't reveal itself immediately to the viewer, and
I think that's good thing to follow up.
JPM Yeah, I do like the cryptic...I like the whole process of discovery
in seeing art, and I think a lot of my process in making it is that I like
to make it accessible to people. The act of discovery, the simple thrill
of discovery. Y'know, I'm not trying to change the world, I'm just interested
in presenting that spirit of excitement. Putting an object out there, or
a situation that maybe you can find some inspiration in. Maybe turn a leaf
over and see something. I love nature, I love living in the North-West because
I get to go out in nature and to me, nothing beats it for teaching you lessons
in some way. There's definitely that influence in my life and in my art.
Whether it comes through or not, that's the cryptic thing - it's what's in
somebody's head. Sometimes I think I'm just showing pictures of my mind!
Come into my head! It's kind of a strange place...a little bit lop-sided,
you know! I think a lot of people's heads are like that! Everything that
I do, the art and life thing...your life is a sculptural entity, and the
objects or the things that you do are markers in this larger flow. I'm not
saying my life is a giant art piece, but I do drag so much of what's around
me in my life into my work, so that it becomes blurred. Getting caught up
in the tide-pool and the stream of thoughts. I like jumping and pointing
from one reference to the other. People have canned [thoughts], boxed references
that have been built up around them. [Ideas] that have been given to them,
taught to them, and that they take as very solid. Really, I think references
are all subjective. A person with thought and exploration can create all
sorts of amazing pathways and conceptual structures, by understanding and
knowing references, or by not knowing references. I think a lot of what I'm
doing is multiple parts, these multiple references that are strung together,
and I randomly leap from one to the next. I can see it in my mind. It's a
more holistic approach, and not a hierarchical approach. I don't believe
in a lot of the hierarchies - that people, because they have money or they
have success or power, that they're better than somebody else. I don't believe
in that. Even though it doesn't come out in my art, as a human being I think
it does inform how I make work.
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