Thursday, January 31, 2013

Artist Statement

Lately I’ve been giving some thoughts to developing an artist’s statement that would unite my various artistic endeavours.  Given my seemingly disparate output, I thought this would be a lot harder to do, but the statement wrote itself…  I rapidly discovered an underlying theme in (almost) all my artistic interests and it just fit and felt right.  I really believe this is what I’ve been doing all these years, but, for the first time, I’ve now described it with words.

What I’ve realised is that, in my art, I explore the distinction between the symbol (word, image or sound) and the object it represents.  By scrambling this distinction, the symbol can become artistic building blocks and objects can acquire meaning.  My approach draws inspiration from the works of Magritte and Gödel's theorem on the incompleteness of mathematics.

In Les deux mystères, Magritte depicts a painting of a tobacco pipe on an easel. Below the pipe we can read the phrase: “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” (this is not a pipe).  Besides the painting, there is another pipe (the presumed model for the painting).  In this painting, Magritte brings our attention to the distinction between the symbol (the pipe on the easel) and the object it represents (the “real” pipe besides the easel).  However, this last pipe is no more an object than the pipe from the painting on the easel.  They’re both images of pipes…  With this realisation in mind, we can read once again the phrase on the painting and become aware that, just like these pipes are not really pipes, the words are not words.  Rather, they’ve become coloured shapes on the canvas.  The symbol is objectified and manipulated to create art.

In his famous theorem, Gödel shatters the distinction between the discourse about numbers and the numbers themselves by producing an equation that talks about itself.  This equation tells us that it is part of the mathematical domain, but that it cannot be demonstrated.  The object of mathematical discourse participates in the discussion… the object is elevated to symbol and acquires meaning.

In my artistic practice, I explore this movement from object to symbol and from symbol to object.  I do this by producing self-referential films, images (films and comic books) by manipulating other images or words, music from language, music where the notes are both musical material and control signal to change parameters and computer assisted poetry.  Recently, I’ve also created a game that sends control messages to change musical parameters based on what’s happening in the game.