Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Art Space Talk: John Daniel Walsh

John Daniel Walsh studied at Alfred University and the Milton Avery School of the Arts at Bard College. He is a video and multimedia artist. His work has been reviewed in Sculpture Magazine, Creative Loafing, Art Papers Magazine, New Art Examiner and several other publications. JD is currently represented by Solomon Projects in Atlanta.

Weekend (Reprise), 2006, LCD montiors, site specific installation

Brian Sherwin: JD, you studied at Alfred University and at Bard College. Can you tell our readers about your academic years? For example, did you have any influential instructors? Also, do you have any advice for current students?

John Daniel Walsh: Both experiences were good in different ways. Alfred in the 90's was a great place with a lot of exciting stuff happening, especially in the electronic art and 2-d departments, which is funny because most people think of Alfred as a ceramics school. To this day I remain extremely close with many people that I first met there. Peer Bode and Andrew Deutsch were instructors that had a profound effect on the way I thought about making art.

Bard was chosen largely because it takes place in the summer - at the time I was living in Atlanta, teaching at the Atlanta College of Art (now SCAD), and I didn't want to give up teaching, so the summer schedule worked out great for me. Bard is a funny place - you don't get so much done in terms of art production because of the short schedule, so what really matters is the feedback, connections, and philosophical aspects of your work. So after the summer you have all year to unpack it. I also got to meet a lot of great people there, many of whom are doing great things now.

I'm not sure what advice I can give students, except that they should try as many different things as they want - if you're early in your career, you have plenty of time to focus, and don't underestimate the value of experimentation.

Manual Blues (Times Spread Time-love Bare), 2008, Video Projector, Wood, Metronome, DVD Player

BS: JD, tell us about a few of your works… 'Manual Blues' for example. Also, tell us about the thoughts behind your work in general…

JDW: Well a lot of my work comes from experiments with chance. Not all, but a lot of it. "Manual Blues" was one of these pieces. I wrote a simple computer program that would take two texts that I would select, and it would weave them together into one. In the end, it's hard to tell what word comes from which source. For "Manual Blues", one text comes from old Blues lyrics, and the other comes from a technical document about gardening.
The words read much like poetry, and I suppose it owes a lot to William Burroughs and Brion Gysin's "cut up" techniques. Anyway, the words are put together by the program and projected onto a sculpture. They are displayed in a certain rhythm, and this rhythm corresponds to a metronome that is attached to the sculpture. I think of it as a deconstructed song. Many of the elements are there - lyrical content, rhythm, syncopation, etc.

Though I've worked a lot with video and new media, not all of my works are electronic. The series "Slow Fade" mostly consist of static objects made from wood, and are painted and silkscreened. Many of these pieces are appropriated, enlarged objects that are literally crashing into other appropriated, enlarged objects. I see these as a physical manifestation of the cinematic fade between scenes, where two things are visible at once, along with all of the baggage and history that's associated with these.

BS: Can you discuss the social implications of your work? Do you strive to examine any specific aspects of popular culture?

JDW: That's a tough one, because I do use a lot of appropriate images from popular culture. But it's not so much a critique on these objects or capitalism, etc. Instead, I often use recognizable images to critique and call attention to the way meaning is constructed. And it's easier to achieve this if I use very recognizable images.
For example, everyone can recognize a pack of Dentyne chewing gum, or Domino sugar, so by using them people can bring their own associations to the work. So really it's more about what happens when associations and expectations become convoluted and mutated, and the objects are vehicles for this experimentation.
Fade 1 (Book and Gum), 2006, Silkscreen on wood and birch pedestal, 22 x 24 x 13 inches

BS: What about other influences? Are you influenced by any specific artist, movement, or event?

JDW: I love all sorts of art and music - John Cage, Duchamp, Eno - anyone experimenting with chance, non-determinate art. Some younger or contemporary artists I'm into lately are Peter Coffin, Aida Ruilova, Wade Guyton, Urs Fischer, Rachel Harrison, just to name a few.

sub Sensory (with Scott Silvey), The hollow forms of domestic sets are scattered throughout the room. There is a kitchen, a bedroom, and a bathroom scene. On large video screens, ghostly figures inhabit these spaces and go about their daily routines. In the gallery are tiny video surveillance cameras that capture the image of the gallery audience, and transports these images into the video space shared with the domestic ghosts
BS: I noticed that you are friends with Scott Silvey. As you may know, I interviewed Scott several months back. Have you ever thought about collaborating with Scott or another artist? Have you worked on any collaborations?

JDW: Yes! As a matter of fact, Scott and I collaborated on a piece called "subSensory" in 2001. This exhibition was the result of a grant from the City of Atlanta. It was a fun show, and a true collaboration from the beginning. We made these bare-bones "sets" of domestic rooms - a kitchen, bedroom, bathroom - and set up cameras that would capture the images of people in the audience. Then the people in the gallery would see themselves mixed up with images of people that weren't there - these kinds of domestic "ghosts" lurking around the gallery.
Scott's sculptures were fantastic. I love collaboration. I'm in a band too, which in some ways is the ultimate manifestation of that - I wish I could bring more of that sort of process into my visual work.
Slow Fade 2 (Pop), 2006, Silkscreen on wood and birch pedestal, 22 x 19 x 9 inches

BS: My understanding is that you are represented by Solomon Projects. You have had two solo exhibitions at Solomon Projects that I'm aware of. Do you foresee a third?

JDW: I certainly hope so! Solomon Projects is a great gallery, and Nancy Solomon has always been so great and supportive. She was one of the first people in Atlanta to really embrace video art, which is not an easy thing to do in a small market. It's hard to believe that the first piece I showed there was almost 10 years ago!

BS: Finally, will you be involved with any other exhibits in the near future?

JDW: Yes, I'm working on a bunch of projects now - I'll be in an exhibition at the University of Virginia in January 2009, a show about landscape, I'm also working on a new video, a group of audio recordings, and a possible audio installation. There may also be a few group shows in the New York area as well.

You can learn more about John Daniel Walsh by visiting his website-- More information can be found at the Solomon Projects website-- You can read more of my interviews by visiting the following page--
Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very shorts, simple and easy to understand, bet some more comments from your side would be great