"Honestly, I don't understand how this guy hasn't blown up" - Britton Bertran
My degree from SAIC was in Fiber and Materials Studies actually - so basically what I was doing then was making clothes that ended up in performance videos. The second one of those I ever made, which was called "Master of the Immortal Arts", necessitated some special effects, like for example doing it against a blue screen and then keying it in Final Cut Pro, and some editing, like for example cutting it up and making it into an effective loop. I began to get more and obsessed with the post production side of it, and by the time I graduated, most of the work was almost entirely made out of post production tricks, like special effects and collaging together source materials. The way I was thinking about it then was that the performance metaphor was moving from me as "star" to me as "producer / director", and more importantly it seemed like sitting in front of the computer and just going down the tunnel with it, was a more authentic analog to the experience a viewer would have sitting in front of a piece and going down the tunnel with it on that side. I think I was also feeling like all the planning and equipment and so on that had to go into pieces like that was also kind of inauthentic to the above, and was always pulling me out of the making part of it, although I feel like these days the whole thing is much more integrated and organic so I'm not really sweating it so much anymore.
This would maybe relate to the answer to the next question, but work comes out of work...
I'm trying to make my practice more like a painter's practice actually - when I was at school, I had kind of a project based method, where I would fully conceive of a piece, figure out how to execute it, make it happen, and then move on to the next one, etc., and right now I feel like I've successfully transitioned back into something that's a little bit more natural feeling (for me) where its more about just going in day after day and making jazzy moves in and around one central, but evolving and living continuum of an idea of what my work is. They do take a really long time for the most part, and it involves watching them over and over again, but as the loops get tighter and more entrancing, staying inside it becomes less of a chore, and more of a deepening and seductive tunnel.
The drawings you might be thinking of were responses to source images that would also end up in collages - basically excuses for just going off on a source image, which is not that different from what the collages were about now that I think about it. The drawings I'm working on now are sort of similar but entirely abstract - more about the going off part and not really in relation to a source image.
Psychedelic art was a huge pushing off point for me, although I'm hoping history will show these cultural references as bits of evidence being deployed in a much larger argument. In a broader sense, my big project is about ways in which an image can get over on and manipulate its beholder - in both the making and the viewing of a piece. The reverse is an image that grants permission, or seems to address a viewer as an equal, or as a partner in the process of generating the meaning of the piece. I guess these are also political ideas, in the sense that they are about how an artwork, through these modes of address, generates and determines the nature of a social space inhabited by artist - piece - viewer(s), and I think it gets at what we want out of an image in the first place. Drug culture, rock culture, art culture, political culture, and etc., are all metaphors I've used in the past, to act inside of, with the aim of theatricalizing these larger themes of the overbearing image, the permissive image, the fascist image, the leftist image, etc.
I've been telling people that I sometimes feel like Jack Nicholson in The Shining when Danny comes in to grab his toy truck from their room, and JN is sitting the bed looking out the window in a trance. Danny asks "Dad - do you like it here?" and JN, obviously from behind a mental wall of ice, without even looking down at him says "...I love it..." and that's precisely when you know he's completely fallen off at the lowest level of his soul. I also tell people L.A. is a living dream, and there are times when the west side makes me feel like I'm on pills to be honest... although I will say that one really serious way its changed my work is that I think a lot of us who are not from here start out with having a somewhat sardonic stance toward pop culture, Hollywood, TV, etc., and I think living here makes all of that stuff instantly NOT funny - I think it was really healthy for my art practice actually.
Right now I'm going through kind of an orthodox return to the more lo fi costume based videos from back in the day, so I'm looking forward to more sewing, more video editing, and a lot more drawings...
When I'm working on a piece that involves excessive repetition or mindless labor, like all of them for example, I usually have a movie going in the background, so here are some faves from recent months, although this is definitely not my top ten of all time list or something like that...
1) John Huston - The Bible
2) William Klein - Mode en France
3) Powell and Pressburger - The Red Shoes
4) King Vidor - The Fountainhead
5) Robert Altman - The Long Goodbye
6) Chris Hegedus and DA Pennebaker - The War Room
7) Bob Fosse - All That Jazz
8) Bennett Miller - The Cruise
9) David Cronenberg - The Fly
10) William Friedkin - Cruising
My parents are super supportive lefty types and have always been extremely cool about everything I've done no matter how boring, ugly, tasteless, etc. Both my dad's parents were painters of a Modernist bent, so thats always been the background to my idea of being an artist.
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