Hi Jack. As an introduction to yourself and your work, tell us how you would describe your artistic practice. Who or what has inspired or informed your work?
Recently I’ve been interested in how humans in western civilisation are comfortable with completely alien situations because of our exposure to Hollywood movies, comic books and video games. I’ve recently been making movie-prop-like meteorites of precious elements from the Marvel comic book universe. I find it interesting that these fictional ‘things’ have their own vast Wikipedia articles and periodic tables.
You were selected for the Phoenix Interact Labs bursary scheme in 2014. How has the scheme helped you develop as an artist?
It gave me the chance to take some time off work (at the Phoenix Café Bar) to develop my practice and be part of a ‘mini collective’. We went to Berlin for the annual Transmediale symposium in February, a week-long series of seminars and lectures that draws out connections between art, culture and technology. I took a lot from that week. It gave me more of an insight into where art currently sits in western society and it influenced, albeit indirectly, the final outcome of an exhibition I later curated at Phoenix.
It’s also helped me develop ideas and kept me thinking; it’s resulted in my learning how to use 3D modelling software, something I never thought I’d have the time or confidence to learn. It’s essentially provided me with a new tool to use in the future.
Many people will recognise your name from the exhibition you curated alongside Dave Briggs at Phoenix earlier this year. What was your vision for ‘The Fading Afterglow of Creation’, and what went into achieving it?
Dave and I share similar attitudes regarding aesthetics and our artistic values – as well as what’s fun and weird. The exhibition title comes from Arthur C. Clarke’s ‘The Sentinel’, the short story that inspired Kubrick’s ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’, in which an archaeologist discovers an ancient pyramid on the moon. We liked the idea of turning the Phoenix Cube Gallery into a cosmic archaeological excavation site.
I had made these precious-looking CGI objects, supposedly unearthed along with Dave’s obsolete technologies from an imagined future. We covered the floor with green carpet underlay and lit the walls with fluorescent lamps along with a surreal cinematic soundtrack of a slowed down, reversed Mongolian Tuvan throat song.
Overall I think we were successful in creating a space that was quite bizarre and, interestingly, that people felt comfortable staying in. I think it’s important that it could be enjoyed as a space. Art has to be enjoyed or else there’s no point in making it.
Has the bursary scheme connected you with a wider community of artists and makers in the city?
The scheme has introduced me to technologists like Sean Clark and the people at Creative Manifesto, who have given me guidance when using 3D printers and different 3D modelling programs and the chance to discuss digital art with other artists.
I’ve been a committee member and studio holder at Two Queens since 2011, and studied with fellow bursary-selected artists Heather Forknell and Khush Nubian at De Montfort University, so I’ve always been connected with Leicester’s Art community in that sense. Also, whilst working at Phoenix’s Café Bar I’ve had the chance to meet many individuals involved in projects around the city that I wouldn’t necessarily have met elsewhere.
So, what’s next for you?
I’m currently in discussion with the artist Alex Wallis on a collaborative body of work involving sculpture, performance and video. He’s super motivated and confident in his practice, meaning an exhibition is almost certainly on the cards. I think it’s important for me to have a deadline to work towards, to keep making and to develop the necessary skills needed to make what I want.
Interested in making and creating? Check out the Phoenix Interact Labs bursary scheme, open now.
Our digital art programme features regular new exhibitions – find out what’s showing.