Artist Profile: Korakrit Arunanondchai

Installation "2012-2555"

Can you talk a little bit about the relationship between designing products like clothing and creating immersive installation environments, both of which rely on the element of "social participation," which you've described as essential to your work?

An idea I have been throwing around for a while now is "any surface can be a painting?" That said, I left my clothing line behind in 2010 because I realize that it was not doing what I wanted it to do. The original idea for the clothing was that the audience wearing the clothes with my patterns on it would blend in with the immersive black-light installation. These installations usually have a live-musical component to it and the audience's movement to the music would create an active surface to the installation. I quite like this harmonious audio-visual experience when it does happen.

The idea of social participation is still really important in my work, although currently I am holding back and reconfiguring my strategies towards social participation. 

I was really fortunate to spend quite a bit of time with Rirkrit Tiravanija over the past year and see him in action. He is a master at opening up a space in his work for the audience to experience and discover things for themselves and I am trying to incorporate some of that quality in my future pieces. 

Much of your work concentrates on the depiction of movement for its own sake, divorced from the representation of objects in space. The affect is achieved using dense layers and bold colors. What influences these instances of abstraction?

If the world we see is a painting and everything is made from the same substance, then all you essentially see are different colors and shapes vibrating at different speed. I wanted my abstract paintings to be able to represent this view of the world. I think earlier on I noticed in Japanese Manga, the use of a certain kind of abstracted shapes to represent speed and movement and that was what started me drawing my own abstracted shapes too. It seems really obvious to say but I like to look at nature and turn a particular spot into a moment. Those moments are what fuel my abstractions.

One of your paintings is a kind of remix of Hieronymus Bosch's Garden of Earthly Delights. What drew you to Bosch's work as something you wanted to toy with?

The Garden of Earthly Delights is my favorite painting of all time. The idea of making a complete work of art through painting fascinates me. There are so many aspects to learn from the painting that I constantly am using it as a counterpoint to my work. A good example is my recent video "2012-2555" (viewable on my website) where the first scene starts of with a video of my looking at my recreation of The Garden of Earthly Delights.

You have described printmaking as a form of programming. What's appealing about collapsing the distinction between hardware and software when it comes to programming, a term that now refers almost exclusively to writing code? Do you think of your work, layered with allusions and symbols, as somewhat coded?

Collapsing hardware and software is a good description to what printmaking is. I work a lot with screen printing and I think there is a solid connection between screen printing and the way that you operate in photoshop. I like the idea where working with painting through the analogy of programming can allow for a choreographed surprise to arrive. Just like working with screen printing you are in control of the paint but there is a part that happens through the compression of paint through the screen that is pretty much it's own thing. 

I wouldn't go as far as to say my paintings are coded. If it was a code that it would probably be very simple html that is repeated over over and over. At some point the action of repeating the code overcomes what the code actually is. I think they are generative abstractions that open up to possibilities of seeing and creative mis-interpretation.





New York, Bangkok

How long have you been working creatively with technology? How did you start?

My first experience with technology for art's sake was using Microsoft Paint when I was in fourth grade. Paint was expensive and inaccessible at that point in time so using MS paint allowed me to create an image using the immaterial and my mistakes without wasting any resource. I also allowed me to copy and paste as many time as I liked which I still love to do now.

Describe your experience with the tools you use. How did you start using them?

This is a hard question. I use all kinds of tools now. Whatever gets the job done.  

Where did you go to school? What did you study?

I went to Rhode Island School of Design for my undergrad and I recently just finished my MFA at Columbia University. 

What traditional media do you use, if any? Do you think your work with traditional media relates to your work with technology?

I guess if you consider paint a traditional media, and video a technology, then I use both. I think any processes, materially or technologically, have relationships and it is the job of the artist to figure that out. In my case, the main difference between painting and video is the variable of linear time.

Are you involved in other creative or social activities (i.e. music, writing, activism, community organizing)?

I used to rap and now I'm trying to re-incoperate that back into my art practice. Once in a while I get to take part in organizing parties and that's always fun. The last one was at Santos party house with Spencer Sweeney, where I did an installation. As for writing I've just started contributing to San Francisco Arts Quarterly.

What do you do for a living or what occupations have you held previously? Do you think this work relates to your art practice in a significant way?

I used to run a small clothing line and did some freelance surface design. The skill-set involved in those work were very similar to what I do in my art practice. The difference is the impetus in creating the work.

Who are your key artistic influences?

There are so many, but to name a few: Rirkrit Tiravanija, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Brock Enright, Daniel Bozhkov

Have you collaborated with anyone in the art community on a project? With whom, and on what?

I work a lot with my friends, usually musicians and performers. In the past year I did two projects, "2011(open studio)" and "2012-2555", both of which started of as a loose idea of a musical. The performers involved were Michael Quattlebaum jr, Jamie Krasner, Jaki Doyka, Saba Ahmed, Gabriel Sugrue, DJ Nire and Jason Bartell from the band Fang Island. All of them are great artists that are doing a ton of stuff right now.

Do you actively study art history?

Yes, I study the past and the present, along with the Art History of my home, Thailand as well.

Do you read art criticism, philosophy, or critical theory? If so, which authors inspire you?

I am reading "We Have Never Been Modern" by Bruno Latour right now. Someone I really enjoyed listening to is Zizek because he is so good at performing his knowledge in such an entertaining way.

Are there any issues around the production of, or the display/exhibition of new media art that you are concerned about?

Wow this is a big question. I think my concerns with new media art are archivability and the methods in which these art forms get recorded to the archive of history. I also think New Media is too much of an over-arching term to describe that gets in the way of the work itself.