Your piece Enchanted Loom is described on your flickr as a self-portrait and shares an aesthetic that seems to be captured by many of your recent tableaux of being a sort of digital cabinet of curiosities, with an obsessive arrangement of openings and secret compartments. How do you see it functioning as a portrait?
I like to think of a lot of my work as portraiture in the sense that making a portrait means exploring the essence of an entity by representing it in an alternate form. I play with the idea that reality is a trippy entity that I can learn more about by making poetic models of it. I take long walks every day and try to focus completely on the textures of the sidewalks and plants and the arrangements and sequences of all the sensory elements that i encounter. Then I use my computer programs to craft textures and shapes that correspond with those observations. Obviously I approach the whole thing really playfully, which opens me up to recieving all kinds of wacky imagery through my inter-dimensional-entity-radar.
Your physical installations do an extraordinary job of capturing the feeling of your digital images - or perhaps vice versa? How do your installations and digital compositions inform one another, and is there anything you hope to find in one that is absent in the other?
Working in a variety of mediums is really important to me. My digital collages, physical installations, videos, websites, sounds and my collaborative performance projects are all completely intertwined. Each mode of working has a special structure to it that resonates my mind with its unique frequency. Regularly working in multiple mediums crosses those frequencies and expands the complexity of my mental framework! For instance, if I’m working on recording sound, my brain molds itself ...
So Wet (2011), installation shot at Preteen Gallery
Nearly every video piece of yours seems to have the distinct aesthetic of webcam footage, from the fluttery movements to the unusual compression artifacts and use built-in filters and effects. Is there something in these particular 'defaults' that you're drawn to?
i like webcam bcause the vid files are a small size and i can make many tests because most of my outtakes are stupid. they arent filling up the harddrive and slowing down the computer. also it renders faster. and its not high def so its not a magnifying glass its a veil. also the effects on the webcam softwares are very beautiful and fun to work with. also i can see myself and i dont need any help to film the webcam video, i can see myself an what i am doing so then i can see what is failing / working.
A great deal of your video work is posted on Youtube, often practically right alongside the videos that seem to inspire some of your performances (from random vloggers to the ubiquitous home videos of people dancing and lip-syncing). Do you think it's important that your work is presented in the same environment? Do you consider the 'baggage' of youtube (aggressive commenters, a somewhat intrusive user interface) when making the work?
i just use youtube as a tool, i cant say i am like "philosophically" into it. its convenient. but i have to say though that the comments are a special gift. always a highlight to get them because they are really real. also they are very funny. theyre all over the board, its more much intersting and more reflective of the internet and what its about and its more constructive and useful. and entertaining.
In an interview ...
Map, public installation (2006-2010)
Turning a digital object into a physical one is often part of your practice. Dead Drops and the 2004 version of de_dust blurs the boundaries between the physical environment and digital worlds. Do you think that there is a place anymore where one world 'ends' and the other begins? Can we ever stop playing Counter-Strike?
In 1995, I had to walk over to the Technical University TU-Berlin campus to get my first email address. I was permitted there to use the UNIX computer pool while studying Architecture at the UdK (Art School Berlin). I only had one friend in Hamburg I knew who had an email address I could write to. Back in the day a lot of people were like “Yes that is cool, but what really do you need the Internet for!?”. Today it is more like “You are not on Facebook, why?!?” being asked from more or less the same people. Obviously there was a rapid development over the last 2 decades in terms of Internet and Computers. The digital space grew bigger and bigger and takes over big parts of our life today. It becomes more and more the extension of ourselves, like McLuhan put it. And yes, you are right: One can’t tell anymore today where one space ends and the other one starts. The classic distinction of digital-analog, real-virtual and online-offline doesn’t work anymore. Those worlds mix up and leap into each other and we are in the center of it. Everything I do every day is my reality.
While studying Architecture in the 90s my focus was bound to the early web, computers and games. Working in these worlds was much more attractive with all ...
Screenshot from Carbon (2010.) Interactive Virtual Enviroment (download.)
There are pieces available on the web that are no longer on your own website, something that is fairly common with artists whose maintenance of an online presence is part of their work. Having developed your work in the public sphere do you hope that the pages and links with your own work are maintained? Would you be bothered (or would you prefer) if some of them fade away?
Yes, I think it is great that some of my work that I am not currently linking to via my website is still available for the dedicated viewer to find somewhere out on the web. I will frequently remove a link to a piece that I am tired of only to find that I feel differently 6 months later and put the link back up.
Many pieces on your site, such as Mansion, Explosions and Tidepool each isolate certain 'special effects' from various media (video games, action films and the psychedelic respectively to these three works) and push them to their logical, almost transcendental extreme. Do you see these works as an expression of the failure of the original media to live up to their promises of transcendence and ultimate entertainment?
I don’t see it as failure, just a buffer. I truly believe in the transformative potential of technology but I am also trying to be a realist. As eagerly as I await the singularity I also think it is ridiculous to hope for a techno-god to save us. There are 2 feelings I frequently find that reflected in my work that express this attitude. One is a complete, hopeful, teary-eyed love of the glittering special effects and commercial aesthetics ...
AM I EVIL?? (2011)
Back in November you posted a compilation of highlights from 'Armin Only' to your blog. It reminded me of a recent documentary about Anselm Kiefer's 'installation' in an abandoned French silk factory entitled Grass Will Grow Over Your Cities where his now clearly much less limited resources allowed him to expand his practice to an architectural scale and create what reviewers were calling a 'gesamtkunstwerk' ('complete artwork' more or less). With unlimited resources, time, space, and manpower what would be your 'complete artwork' piece at this point in time? Would that sort of thing interest you?
I think there are always constrictions and limitations on any and every project--even projects executed by the most wealthy performers with the most insane budgets, when resources may seem "unlimited". Lil Wayne still has to deal with TV executives who bleep out his curse words on TV. U really think Tyler from Odd Future can do whatever he wants?? Everyone is "just doing their job"--sadly there is no Dr. Evil/Andy Warhol with the ability to manipulate everything absolutely--no one is in charge/we are all in charge, in our own way. What makes things compelling is the complexity involved in all the compromises. If you can show some of that chaos/complexity to your audience in a way that they can understand, perhaps you are getting somewhere . . . I like to imagine all the people involved in that Armin performance with their various agendas struggling together to make this crazy important thing, all these different people expressing and negotiating with one another's desires . . . but it's not a "Complete Artwork", not sure there ever has or ever will be one . . . doesn't everything just feel like a work in progress?? The first and only gesamtkunstwerk will be ...