Enter Facing Audience
Interface: the distinguishable point where you meet experience or the connective moment when you discern input, and you begin learning something.
Everything you perceive relies on interface. The five senses are simply a shorthand for distinguishing our interface with the world. Touch, smell, sight, taste, and hearing are all vehicles for us to acquire new knowledge and experience which leads to opinion and emotion, which then leads to our own individual definitions of life. We build our lives on experience, our interface with everything else is the conduit to knowing life, and experiencing the passage of time. Building stronger, more dynamic, or more brilliant interfaces between individuals and my art and/or individuals and their communities’ remains a primary tenet of my creative practice. I work to enhance every interface.
In contemporary American culture we take for granted various mundane interfaces that should be remarkable or are remarkable to people unfamiliar with our society. The touching of a mouse attached to a computer, the remote control of an arrow on a backlit LCD screen is vibrantly alien to millions of souls who have never experienced it. Think of the quick swipe or dip of a debit card a dozen times a day, which gives permission for groceries or a parking permit. The very strange act of reaching into your bag and producing a plastic card of identification or permission, as if doing this in front of a water buffalo would keep you from getting trampled. We build our culture on permission and interface, which only we have faith in. We understand transaction as a way of interaction, we express our culture through rules of exchange and permission. Waiting in lines for anything, our turn at the counter or our turn at the toll booth, we wait for service or a haircut, but we wait in line to give ourselves order, when did a line become a natural human process or system. This is interface, how do you interface with a bank, through the line, permission card at the teller and a check of the id and a pin number and then money you put there already is given back to you, money being its own permission slip. How we store our money the shape of the objects, wallets, money clips, purses, we respond to the object with design. We make choices of fashion and culture based on the interface we wish to have with our very valuable permission slips.
We scale our experience, we have entire institutions built around access to interface. One of the most successful cultural movements we have that is not replicated elsewhere is the ADA, Americans with Disabilities Act. The idea that interface must be leveled, not that every interface will be the same but that every one of us has the chance to interface with a library, a school, a hotel, or a theme park. Every situation of your modern day revolves around your interface with the world around you. The way in which you move about this life, and in which you use the tools of your day to day. From the knotted laces in your shoe to the belt around your waist, these are tools and objects of interface, they exist to you for use and function but also for choice. You are free to tie any knot in your laces you like, even if you decide to tie a knot which comes undone frequently so that you have the joy of squatting and retying it all day. That is your interface with your feet.
This is a vast field prime for harvest, much contemporary art relies on a viewer interfacing the work visually, looking and being a viewer. I cherish when my audience addresses my work from multiple angles of experience, even the handing over of a portion of the authorship inside a piece. Much of my most recent work exists to be touched and experienced, often the experience is paramount and the objects plays a supporting role. I often work with collaborators and I take great pleasure in learning from them more than they learn from me.
The crossover from audience to collaborator should be seamless and quick. In many of the projects I have been involved in, my collaborators and I are concerned most with giving our audience an access point from the start, in which they can begin to develop ownership over their experience and consequentially the piece itself. The idea is always to provide a journey for the participants, giving them a vehicle to traverse the project. The audience must engage the space, the objects, the present artists, and the other members of the audience. Mixing together until the combination and participation of everything becomes the piece.
We as a people simply feel better when we physically engage an experience. Remote mediation through technology may extend our abstract knowledge of a subject, like traveling to the bottom of the sea in a submersible via a film. But our greatest joys come from physical presence and encounter with life which is moving forward impervious to our control. We cannot rewind or fast-forward our everyday interactions with people and places, and that constant forward motion allows us to feel risk and excitement and ultimately joy in success when we make it through any given situation. We like life coming right at us, and my art is placing itself in the very real world, creating a memory for the people who choose to participate. I place objects and people and ideas in motion and my audience comes together with my work to make it into something I couldn’t fully predict. Because at the end of the day I want to be surprised by life as much as my audience and I can only start a conversation, but I must have someone else to carry on with, otherwise I am just talking to myself.