Artwork’s Title: Conniveo (2020) 1. To blink, turn a blind eye or overlook
Materials/Method/Technique Used: Virtual Reality Environment using Unreal Engine and a Physical Installation: Projectors, Reclaimed TV screens, Scaffolding, Fish netting, Soundscape
Studio Based: Birmingham, UK
Can you tell us about the process of making your work?
It always begins with an idea that seems impossible to create in the ‘real’ world so I then consider how it can be created virtually in order for me to provide the viewer a window into my head. Once my idea is fixed I tend to run with it and don’t allow myself to change too often – this helps me explore one idea to it’s full potential.
How would you define your work in a few words (ideally in 3 words)?
Immersive, speculative and sustainable.
Would you use another three different words to describe ‘Conniveo’?
Submerged, explorative, conscience.
How did you come up with this digital art project? What’s the idea or the story behind it?
I pitched the idea for the New Creatives scheme with BBC Arts and Arts Council and was lucky enough to be chosen for a commission. I believe that VR can be used to fully immerse someone within a new narrative and speculative future, forcing them to face a variety of environmental issues that our planet currently faces. The plastic pollution crisis is very real however the majority of people do not, and will not, experience the impact of this first-hand. VR allows me to take them to this place in a way which is individual to them and provides them a solitary experience to think about their future actions.
Beyond the sphere of the gaming industry, do you believe people have started to engage more and more with the idea of VR works in the contemporary arts?
VR is becoming increasingly accessible to the general public and more artists are beginning to use it as a tool though it is clearly something that is used most still within the gaming industry. I believe VR in the future will be viewed as an essential part to many different industries, forcing people to engage.
What would be the best way to exhibit your work?
For me, presenting my VR works within a headset isn’t enough, so I choose to stage them within larger physical installations which show small windows into the virtual environments as well as immersing the viewer as soon as they enter the exhibition room.
Can you mention any artists you, lately or generally, take inspiration from?
There are many different artists I have taken inspiration from in the past – currently I am interested in artists who use different techniques especially technology to display different environments. These include Olafur Eliasson, Jakob Kudsk Steensen, Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg, Pipilotti Rist, Heto Steryl, Sarah Sze and Tan Zi Xi.
How do you know when this digital work was finished?
It isn’t finished yet so I will have to let you know…!
What about the place where you work? What’s your studio space look like?
I mainly work at the Birmingham School of Art where I am studying my Masters in Fine Art alongside my professional work.
Is there any particular message that you wish your viewers can take from this work?
Try your hardest to REDUCE your plastic consumption. I am not expecting people to give up entirely as that is almost impossible but if people could just choose to use a reusable water bottle, canvas tote bag for shopping or reusable coffee cup – that is enough for me.
What does your mum think about your art?
She’s very proud of me (I hope!)
Which exhibition did you visit last?
Jakob Kudsk Steensen: Catharsis at The Serpentine
What are your plans for the near future?
I will be touring around different places with Conniveo for the rest of this year which is very exciting so I’m just seeing how they go.
© All images are courtesy of the artist