Wednesday, 9 March 2011

pop isn't a dirty word

Pop is a lot to do with my artwork. The idea that pop can simultaneously be knowingly aloof and shallow, yet also be dense with imagery and more meaningful notions, is key in understanding my practice. My work is tongue-in-cheek and has no set definition, but I'm also very emotionally invested in it and like to think it carries some message about me, my ego or how I perceive myself.

On the broadest level possible, I think pop is the art of the thrill, and it's intrinsic in all branches of creative human endeavour. My artwork is visceral and always designed to be pleasing to the eye on some level - I have an enjoyment of line and colour that I think can be pretty universally appreciated. I think the small emotional thrill that people may get when viewing my work is, ultimately, the same kind of thrill that some people get when they watch a film, or maybe a music video, or hear a piece of music they find affecting. I don't like to view any experience of this nature as more worthy than another. My notion of pop is that if someone gets an emotional rush out an experience, we shouldn't feel the need to quantify its worth because of the means its creator has happened to use.

My work is, generally then, an arrangement of symbols. I think it's enough that a symbol or motiff can exist in an artwork without needing to be explicitly explained. Individual elements such as shading, the figures or text are what my drawings consists of, but they're mostly just my way of manipulating the tone of the piece. I have ideas about what a particular image may mean, but I don't think my view is definitive, as I can never totally understand how other people will perceive the work. I've always preferred to learn about the work through how it's received more than I've ever felt any desire to state its intention. Complete understanding of an artwork requires complete understanding of the self, which I personally think is impossible. We can approximate the process of stepping outside the self and self-scrutinising, but ultimately, it can only ever amount to an intellectualised facsimile. We're still the same mind; the same amalgam of memories and emotional triggers. I believe then that the breadth of an artists understanding of their own work can never be truly comprehensive.

Although I have no set-in-stone notion about the meaning of my artworks, I don't believe the images are created "automatically," because the idea of the "automatic" creation of artwork completely contradicts the works intention. Creating the artworks is a very involved, reactionary process of balance. I rarely have a set agenda for a piece, but I may have an idea for an element I wish to employ that then takes on a completely new meaning in the context of the piece as I create it. If the work is going too far in one direction, I'll often counterbalance it with an element that may contradict, or even undermine, the nature of the "message" so far. Doubt or scrutiny of the self is still a fundamental theme, and I feel any message I could put across that's too earnest or absolute would be, if anything, a bit dishonest.

The idea then of artists having any kind of authoritative voice, to me, is false. Artworks are, effectively, an experience, and often the true nature of the experience can become a bit muddied or diluted in its retelling. I think memory is often what we want it to be more than what it actually was, because to have and state an opinion is, by its very nature, an indulgence of the ego. We make statements about artworks because we're willing to be perceived as making those statements, and maybe sometimes we aren't truly honest, even with ourselves, with our feelings about an an artwork. I prefer not to state meanings because I think it tarnishes the overall potential of the work. Artwork functions as an invitation to a personal, subjective experience. In this sense then, I would definitely consider myself a "pop" artist, because whether the piece has worth depends entirely on the viewer. I don't like people to feel they don't understand a work because they don't understand my viewpoint - theirs is just as worthy as mine, ultimately. Pop is fundamentally a base attempt at emotionally moving an individual which is, I think, the best thing that could be expected of an artwork.

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