Alice interviews Hunter

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Alice Interviews Hunter - edited version

[something about the work up front please-- S.]


A: So Hunter you are from California ?

H: I was born in Oakland, which is right next to San Francisco. I also spent some of my youth growing up in the mountains, about three hours east from San Francisco. But about a year and a half ago I decided to move to Germany. I really wanted to just change my approach and get a whole new outlook.

A: And now you are based at the Piet Zwart Institute in Rotterdam?

H: Yeah, I’m in school. And my current context brings me a focus, a dedicated space, and tools that I didn't have access to before.

A: and how is your current location affecting your practice?

H: Well, I've been inspired by using new tools and materials. Also, before if I was working a job, either construction or art installing, my workflow would be quite broken up into month long periods. So I would basically brainstorm this idea and then execute it. And what’s happening now is that the brainstorming is happening at the same time that I am physically using the materials.

A: So let’s talk about rocks. What do rocks mean to you?

H: I'm interested in memory, and I'm interested in slow geological time versus our really sort or quick real time, as in the time we are in right now. And rocks store memory and information that you can access through touching, or looking at them.

A: And you also seem to be drawing relationships between rocks and mobile phones ?

H: Well it stems from a sort of joke with a friend, if that what about in the future we just used rocks as a form of communication instead of phones. Like rocks are the cell phones of the future, because of the way that they also contain information like a modern interface.

A: Let’s first talk about an older piece of yours, “The Rosetta Stone”. Could you describe it briefly?

H: It uses the stone, or the Rosetta stone as its subject. You would come in to the space and see a computer generated rock pivoting on a screen. However there was no animation, the rock was a real model spinning behind the screen. The crux for me was making a fake 3D animation, with a real 3D object that only appears to be an animation, but using the language of computer generated technology.

A: And what are you working on for the current show.

H: Well I wanted to experiment with ceramics, and I still had these rock forms in mind. But then I was also looking at some of the earliest hard drives, and the first hard drive is a ceramic disc that is painted with magnetic paint. So I am making these fake ceramic rocks, and painting them with magnetic paint. Using these earthy materials, that are sort of appropriated from technology, and then turning them back in to earthy materials. But still recognizing that it is an art object, that has a certain craft to it too. I mean by this way I am really going to learn to make a mold - to get my hands dirty.

A: And your second piece that you are showing are the LED interface motifs, which will be displayed in the café?

H: Yeah, they are these Perspex sheets, standing upright with rocks and other motifs lit up inside them. They poke around at decoration when they are sitting on a table. And also they relate to menus or some sort of interface that you can touch and activate.

A: Displaying them in the café, drawing a relationship to them and menus, there is obvious humor in the work.

H: Well I want to be humorous because I think it's an important way to digest..reality or life..But I think it's a challenge in art because I think humor can really fall short or be nullified in the gallery space. So the café is a more apt location in that sense.

A: You’ve mentioned that currently you’ve been inspired by all these new tools at your fingertips. But what were your early inspirations?

H: Well..really early on, I think what got me looking at the everyday world in a different way was actually skateboarding. I mean I would just look at stairs in a different way, they had this alternate function as a physical form for my board to traverse. I think art is really about showing that something you really trusted as one thing, could actually have a different meaning or different function.

A: And lastly, you are known for often working collaboratively, like your recent piece with Christian Hansen at the Venice Biennale. Why collaborate?

H: Sometimes working on my own is slower and I'm less confident. I think its pretty clear that mutually if you can arrive at an idea together then it is more justified. Not that I need pre- justification. On the other hand if you have an inkling of an idea, and then you speak about it with another person then it will totally become something else, and it will end in a result that you couldn't have expected.










A: So Hunter you are from California ?

H: I was born in Oakland, which is right next to San Francisco. I also spent some of my youth growing up in the mountains, about 3 hours east from SF

A: There's definitely this west coast vibe about you - and now you're in Rotterdam. What are the locational differences between here, and California, and how has that affected your practice ?

H: Since I finished undergrad, I had basically been quite steadily focused on making art work, and was involved in the local art scene. But also, working a variety of different 9-5 jobs. And there was this definitely this momentum going on. But about a year and a half ago I decided to move to Germany. I really wanted to just change my approach and get a whole new outlook. And that definitely happened to some extent, but it also threw a wrench in to my production flow. And now, in Rotterdam, I think I'm in a space of gathering those recollections, and trying to experiment with new mediums and tools, and go in new directions. In general my work is becoming more sculptural.

And now I'm in School. With that context brings me a focus, a dedicated space, and tools that I didn't have access to before.

A: Could you sum up your practice briefly ?

H: In broad terms….It definitely has a lot to do with looking at other art. However there are tons of other outside sources that inspire me. When it comes to making the physical pieces, currently I've been inspired by using new tools and materials. For example I had never used a laser cutter before, so I was thinking "what could I do with that?", and then usually what happens is outside sources, and aesthetic sources, work themselves into this process of experimentation. And then I'll end up with some kind of result that will be a bit like a finished piece.

A: When I was looking at your work, what I found interesting was how process driven it was, in that one piece led on to another piece. A group of sketches, become templates for sculptures..and so fourth. Would you agree with that concept, and the statement "work makes work". ?

H: Yeah, especially now, more than before. Then, if I was working a job, either construction or art installing, my work flow would be quite broken up into month long periods. So I would basically brainstorm this idea and then execute it. And whats happening now is that the brainstorming is happening at the same time that I am physically using the materials. You know I'll be like "I want to do some experimenting with mould making, and then it's like maybe I can do something with these rocks. And then how does that relate back to the technology influences?"

A: Key word mentioned here. "Rocks" There are a lot of rocks going on. What is it about rocks that fascinate you ?

H: It's kind of a recent fascination. I mean the Rosetta Stone piece in the show, was a collaboration with a friend. It uses the stone, or the Rosetta stone as its subject, but really the crux for me was making a fake 3D animation, with a real 3D object that only appears to be an animation, but using the language of computer generated technology. So just that visual language.

And that work really informed the newer works that I am going to show. Which come from sort of a joke with a friend, if that what about in the future we just used rocks as a form of communication instead of phones. Like rocks are cell phones in the future (we both chuckle).

A: Relating rocks to phones, because of rocks innate geological information that they store and can communicate with. And theres definitely this humor in finding a parallel between these different types of communication. Who is this humor aimed at? The viewer? Yourself? The art world?

R: Well I want to be humorous because I think it's an important way to digest..reality or life..But I think it's a challenge in art because I think humor can really fall short or be nullified in the gallery space. Thats the biggest challenge with humor, and I think that totally happens in my work. When the pieces are shown in the right space they become serious. And there ARE serious elements in my work. I'm interested in memory, and I'm interested in slow geological time versus our really sort or quick real time, as in the time we are in right now. Or just the time of this conversation. And I think those are really sort of bigger questions. And how can you turn that into sort of a joke, or communicate it in a humorous way - so that people can look at it and have a laugh about how the world is.

And thats why I've chosen to show these LED interface motifs, in the cafe as opposed to the gallery.

A: I guess what you're saying is that they have much more of a context in the cafe as opposed to the gallery ?

H: Yeah and I think they kind of poke around at decoration, when they are sitting on a table, but also maybe they would work as a menu" or, "maybe they are some sort of interface that you can touch and activate something"

A: Theres almost another level of humor being added on, because I've noticed especially here in Rotterdam, in the asian sushi style restaurants, they have these interactive menus that light up on the table. Maybe there is this play going on with superficial technology. I mean why do we need a light up menu ?

H: Yeah and I had been thinking about (that work) as this possible mediation between us, and the food, and the server. I mean there is always these layers between these different things, but now it's just more technological. And I thought it would be super funny if what if a rock was an interface, and it sort of is in a way, we have to read them in a really tactile way to get information from it, or to use it to build something, whatever that might be. And rocks do store memory and information that you can access through touching it or looking at it.

A: Maybe this is off topic but it reminded me of the Wire, where the kids (petty drug dealers) use this code, where they page each other with a coded number, that means a different undetectable-from-the-police number, which is the actual number to call. But this code is all to do with symbols and characters, that you can physically remember if you have an innate knowledge of the mobile phone interface. Reducing the phone to an object that we are so used to, how present the signs and symbols of it are that we don't even notice them.

A: The next thing I was going to ask about were what were your early inspirations? And what inspires you now? Not necessarily artists, but what are the things that make you want to make work ?

H: Well..really early on, I think what got me looking at the everyday world in a different way was actually skateboarding. I mean I would just look at stairs different way, they had a different function, or an alternate function. And I think art is really about showing that something you really trusted as one thing, could actually have a different meaning or different function.

A: That's interesting because your work is all about translation. And going back to those stairs, thinking about how you can physically move your skateboard on them as opposed to their structural function.

H: Yeah, and I used to be really in to painting actually, and I had a fascination in solving images graphically. Or making a picture. And in terms of content there was always this relationship between humans, and the things we create, and what else is there. In a way an interface,but also wanting to note that we're not actually separate from the rest of the world, or nature, or whatever was there before us, we're so woven in to it and it's one and the same. But, but trying to make distinctions, we are able to prove that humans are somehow separate, and I'm trying to blur those connections a little bit. And when I look back at early drawings, that fascination was always there.

A: And what do you think is inspiring you at the moment ?

H: I think actually the materials are inspiring me so, for instance I wanted to try out ceramics, and I still had these rock forms in mind, but then I was also looking at some of the earliest hard drives, and the first hard drive is a ceramic disc that is painted with magnetic paint. So now I want to make these fake ceramic rocks, and paint them with magnetic paint. And so use these earthy materials, that are sort of appropriated from technology, and then turn them back in to earthy materials. But still recognizing that it is an art object, that has a certain craft to it too. I mean by this way I am really going to learn to make a mould - to get my hands dirty.

A: This is presumably what you are showing at the up coming show.

H: Yeah

A: So just going back to that film piece. The moving Rosetta Stone. Correct me if I'm wrong, you are interested in reducing artifacts to signs and codes ? Would you say this runs through your whole practice ? An interest in some sort of language?

H: I don't know, in that piece it was almost more about expanding than reducing, because I thought we were expanding the idea of the original Rosetta Stone, to encompass the language that we use now, which, if we are talking about a visual language, which is if you see it on a screen it is no longer a physical rock but an image of a rock. And if you see a 3D rendering of it, than it looks 3 Dimensional but its still a code, essentially a string of bits, or numbers, ones and zeroes. The joke in a way was to take, to re-make the physical stone, and how we could get that to look like a 3D animation in the same space. So it is essentially translating it from a 3D object and turning it into what looks like a computer generation, a computer generated version. And so it's quite literally going through these different processes. The image is being captured, it's turned into a signal, that is then displayed on the flat screen. And so when you come in to the space, you first see that video version, and you just go "ok yeah this is a form", you might recognize it as the Rosetta Stone or not. And then when you walk around the backside you actually see that it's this spinning model, this grey stone hanging in front of studio lights, and so everything has been totally staged to look like the "visual language" that we wanted it to convey.

A: And so lastly to ask, you do work in collaboration at times. Could you briefly speak about this.

H: I think it's great. Sometimes working on my own is slower and I'm less confident. I think its pretty clear that mutually if you can arrive at an idea together then it is more justified. Not that I need pre- justification. On the other hand if you have an inkling of an idea, and then you speak about it with another person then it will totally become something else, and it will end in a result that you couldn't have expected.

I try to achieve that these days in my personal work, but when you work with somebody else that happens much more quickly. That arrival at something you didn't expect to. I think it can be quite rewarding in that way because the result is…(he chuckles)

A: Well that rounds us up. Thanks Hunter ! :)