Art, design, technology and culture are rapidly converging,
mixing and generating new hybrids. How have you been a part of this scene
and what are your new projects?
I think it depends on how you define "scene". If it's a scene
where you might find like minded people hanging out regularly, I don't
think I've had much input, but if it's a more loosely defined scene in
which social interaction is not necesarry, I may have had some recognition
for my work. Having work on the internet, i can bypass trappings of more
traditional media for artwork like galleries and television and get to
the audience individualy. I think it is much less sort of public as well.
A viewer can have a more personal relation to the work without having
to deal with whether the work is consistent with viewer's peers tastes.
I think my work in particular works well via the internet because it's
sort of the work some people like, but not everyone, so if those who like
it want to share it with others they can, but if they want to keep it
to themselves, they can. What I hear from them often and it's irelevant
in the big scheme of things, but they tell me that they have seen a lot
of web animation and other things made with flash and they've had enough
of it and didn't want to see any more until they ran into my work. This
is not my opinion, I think there's lots of great things made with flash
out there, but I think it is good that I may have been able to help some
people stay open mided about the media. I have been working a lot with
music related projects: music animation, album art and VJ. The VJ-ing
in particular is a lot of fun, to do something live in front of the audience.
With the help of my friend Karl, we've come up with a way to take pictures
of people there and embed their faces into the projected animation. We
want to take this even further and make it into an interactive installation
in the future.
Your work with Flash is definitely unique. What interests
me about it is the way that it seems to be "Flash for Flash's sake."
Once you have seen enough Flash, you get to know what to expect from the
effect. You seem to be speaking to those people who know the effects of
Flash like a language, but you aren't using it to say anything in particular,
except "This is Flash." You are mumbling in Flash.
I am not sure if I make Flash for Flash's sake really. It just happned
to be the medium that seems most compatible with what I want to do. I
guess I am mostly known for my Flash work, but I don't really have much
of a status in the Flash community as far as I know. There are some Flash
events which I've made some efforts to be part of, but came up empty.
That's OK though. I never set out to please just that community, but it's
nice to hear stuff like a friend who has a daughter who is very picky
about what she watches, but she likes my stuff. I can't pretend that I
have something important to say because I don't think I have anything
to say that hasn't been said already, but I don't want to think my work
is purely just aesthetics. I did actually do a MFA program, so I should
be on top of it and have my artist statement ready, but I found that thinking
too hard about what I'm making kind of bogged me down to the point where
I wasn't making anything at all. It took me a while to get going again.
People say different things about my work and one thing I hear sometimes
is that it's sort of sinister in some ways. That's not something I consciously
set out to make, but I think I am sort of going about a very round about
way to find out things. Who knows maybe in 10 years time, I'd be making
very direct and clear cut sort of work.
The dolls you make are sort of connected to a sense of
craft and the human touch. Are you now interested in performing with digital
media(the VJ work)? Is this also a sort of human touch?
I like making the dolls. It helps me to take a break from computerland.
I don't know if it's that different though from using Flash. I find drawing
in Flash a sort of an intuitive process. Flash does help to make it more
precise, but you're still pretty much dragging the mouse around and clicking
it too, so the result may seem devoid of himan touch, but the process
is still a matter of eye hand coordination. The VJ thing, I don't know
if it's that much more human(?), but it's a lot more social and more imediately
gratifying maybe. I don't know how other VJ's do it, but the way I have
it set up, I have an interface that calls up flash movie clips and they
can be changed or layered in real time, so it's sort of chaotic and somtimes
you get some unpredictable combinations of things. I have been interested
in doing interactive sorts of things for sometime whether it's digital
or not. I did plan a gallery show one time in which the audience was sort
forced into interaction, but I never got the gallery space, so I didn't
get to play out the idea. I haven't had such precise ideas about interactivity
since then, but it would be great to explore that some more. One of my
intial influences for wanting to going to compuetr graphics was this Japanese
children's tv show called Ugo Ugo Lhuga. It was the most entertaining
and cutting-edge show. It had some great interactive segements for example,
there was this virtual sumo in which characters that kids drew would battle
each other from home by screaming into microphones. The louder the scream,
the stronger your character was and you could push the opponent's character
off the stage.
My interpretation of the work is that with the choice and
mix of imagery and movement, the works are playfully non-narrative...and
that lack of narrative makes me focus on the effect of the medium. To
me they say, "This is Flash...with all the knobs turned to level
10." So to me, they are about Flash and I can just sit back and watch.
I am attracted to works such as this, that either augment the intended
use or normative role of media(most use Flash with a very predictable
narrative intent) or use the guise of narrative through imagery or a more
sophisticated apparatus (such as in the Stan Douglas piece, "Win,
Place, Show") to strip the media down to it's effect or bare apparatus,
however sophisticated and subtle it may be to perceive. Either strategy
is about understanding the inherent narrative already within media.
Well, I think I never had any intentions of doing any narrative work
since I sort of started with just still images and Flash was a way to
make the image move. I may have visual ideas about some movements, but
nothing tht is realted to a storyline. My first love of the arts was literature
actually and I read voraciously as a child, so naturally I tried to write
my own stories and realised pretty quickly that I was no good at it. So,
I tend to stay way from anything that has me writing up a storyline for
it first. I would love to collaborate with writers if I can find people
who can write material that would work for me.
What other experiences, such as the TV show you mentioned,
have you recognized as influencing your current direction?
Well, I am not good at keeping track of when and where I have been inspired,
but there are a couple of things I can think of off my head. Whenever
I look at any stuff by Archigram, it's such a great mix of graphics and
environment, I am very inspired to want to make something that combines
graphics and the world at large. Also the music video work by Michel Gondry
is very inspiring to me. He has a knack for being able to mix together
different elements perfect choreographed. I don't think I could ever make
anything like him until I have been able to learn some other media as
well, but I am inspired none the less to want to try experimental kinds
Yeah, I really like that Chemical Brothers piece that Michel
Gondry did...very slick editing but pretty low-tech in the way that the
scenes are simple and the actor's moves are simple, but within this other
sort of sophistication.
I agree. I have been thinking about how I could combine Flash and video
for a while. I don't know anything about filmmaking, so I don't think
it'd be wise for me to do anything very planned out like Gondry's work.
I think instead I think I'd shoot random footage, edit it down and bring
in flash here and there.
Have you sold alot of stuff through the mumbleboy collection?
Do you have a following in that area?
I've sold a lot of dolls over the years. I've started numbering them
a few years ago and the number is up in the 400's. I've made just as many
or maybe even more before that, so I think the totall is probably somewhere
around a thousand. I'm not sure if I have a following, but it seems like
when somebody gets one, their friend or family does the same a lot of
the times. They are only available in a few stores, but i think if they
were in more stores, they'd be more popular. I don't think I want to make
any more than I already do though. It's pretty time-consuming. I've been
trying to push the mumbleboy adoption program, but of the hundreds of
dolls out there, only about 20 or so people have sent in info and pics.
I guess it's hard to get people to do all that. Myabe I'll have to make
it easier with forms to fill out or something.
I've used the real-time video editing software called Imag/ine
to experiment with the VJ thing...this program lets you use a live video
feed and any saved quicktime movies you have on your desktop. Maybe this
would work somehow with Flash pieces saved out as quicktime clips. What
is your set-up like when you VJ?
I use a Flash interface which was originally made by Michiko
Swiggs of the Seattle band IQU. They used it on their tour for visuals.
I had my friend Karl revise the interface to be able to show more stuff
and in separate layers and also do the picture import thing that I think
I mentioned before. I haven't heard of Imag/ine, but it sounds a lot like
this program called Image Dive which I found recently. It's specifically
made for VJ-ing and supports differnt formats, so with it, I'll be able
to show quicktime along with flash. It's only available in Japanese versaion
and I haven't able to get a copy here yet, but it should open up a whole
new aspect to VJ-ing. It has a lot of samples which look like your typical
rave VJ stuff and also various kind of wipes, so anyone can become an
instant VJ with it, but i'll see if I can use it in a more interesting